I received the following email from the marketing company. This shows once again the power of social media to amplify our voices and how much stronger we are when we stand together.

On behalf of our whole firm, we wanted to reach out to say how deeply apologetic
we are for using language in the cover note emailed to you regarding 
BRA (Breast Reconstruction Awareness) Day that appeared to minimize the seriousness 
of the issues at hand. We are so sorry for any offense that 
this has caused you or any woman affected by breast cancer. 
We will not be proceeding with the campaign.


My hands are actually shaking I am so angry as I type these words. I was just settling down to write about my incredible experience at the Stanford Medicine X conference, but before doing so I checked my email.

This is what greeted me.

Dear Marie,

Boobs are so much more than just “the girls” or “melons.” They’re fabulous. They make us feel sexy, whether we’re in our best outfit, lounging around in our favorite flannel PJs, or just bare butt naked. This fall, we want to spread this sensation of beauty and breast empowerment to breast cancer patients and survivors, as well as women nationwide.

 Many women who undergo mastectomies aren’t adequately informed about breast reconstruction options and reimbursement.  In order to help raise awareness of these available options, we’re celebrating National BRA Day 2014 (October 15), in affiliation with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, with a grassroots social media campaign using the hashtag #WHATSUNDERHERE.

Each participant receives a t-shirt with the #WHATSUNDERHERE hashtag on the front. In addition to the t-shirt, each kit comes with a set of cards with fun and thought-provoking sayings, such as: “Is Cancer Free,” “Looks Great Naked,” “Will Not Take Cancer Lying Down,” among others.

There’s more to this, but I cannot bring myself to share anymore with you. If you are a blogger who is part of the usual email/spam list from marketing companies you will no doubt receive your own “personalized” version of this email.

I don’t even know where to begin in listing what is wrong with this approach; it’s everything from the first mention of “boobs” to the suggestion that you can only be “sexy” and “empowered” if you have perfectly reconstructed “melons”. And don’t get me started on the #whatsunderhere t-shirt slogan!

This email originated from a healthcare marketing company who pride themselves on creating “original communications programs that build upon your situation and direction”. Well whatever they are building this campaign on – it’s not on the sensitivity of women who have had mastectomies that’s for sure!

Maybe I’m just over-reacting because I’ve returned from Medicine X where I listened to such articulate and impassioned stories by patients, that the language and sentiment of this email really pushed my buttons. So please help me out here.. am I missing something? As always this is not a judgment on whether someone decides on a reconstruction or not – that’s our own choice and it’s not always an easy one –  but I am offended at the implication that we can only be sexy with breasts and once again a serious life-threatening illness is turned into a social media “awareness-raising” game.