Weekly Round Up: Pinktober Is Here

girl_with_lassoTime for this week’s round-up of the best of the blog posts which I’ve read over the past week. These are the posts that have moved me, taught me something, inspired me, and which I’ve wanted to share with you. Don’t forget if you have written a post which you would like readers to see, just leave a comment below.

And so here we are once again in Pinktober – the annual pinkification fest that surrounds breast cancer each October, or as Yvonne puts it the month we are booby-trapped by awareness campaigns.

Here’s how Audrey so accurately describes it:

It’s insidious at first; some articles appear in women’s magazines. Stories of survival abound. The ones who don’t are less spoken of this month it seems. There are the others too of course, who wouldn’t describe themselves as survivors, living with metastatic cancer who can feel  in the shadow of the pink hued October time. But for many of them their daily life has become survival, their personal marathons to live with pain, fatigue and more. Somehow that pink ribbon just doesn’t really seem cut it for them.

Sara writes scathingly of the comodification of breast cancer:

BCA is a bonanza for companies that seek increased profits by branding themselves as do-gooders.   They’ll slap a pink ribbon on their package and/or say they will donate x number of pennies to charity to raise money for “the cure” and “awareness.”  Much of the “awareness” is on the theme that “early detection saves lives.”  This is misinformation as “early detection,” i.e. getting an annual mammogram, simply does not detect a lot of breast cancers.   Moreover, many early detected and early treated breast cancers will recur and metastasize in later years, even after the passage of the arbitrary five-year milestone.

It feels wearisome to be witnessing the same glorification of pink at the expense of the other side of breast cancer – the reality of metastases – every year the same. As Tami sees it: “For many of us with metastatic breast cancer, October is like a party we weren’t invited to join”.

And what of the resentment we face from those with other cancers? They took are sick of having breast cancer pushed in their faces each fall. This is the focus of the latest blog by the Cancer Curmudgeon, who refers to “one painful post from a patient with a gynecological cancer proclaimed October to be the time of year in which every day is devoted to telling the world only one kind of cancer matters”.

Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues, and an early and vocal voice in this space, has written about how she started on this journey and how far we have come.

Dr Elaine Schattner, while writing of the jaded, out dated feel of breast cancer awareness month, also acknowledges that for some it is a time of camaraderie. She calls instead for for another more all-encompassing kind of awareness at this time – a point echoed by Lisa in her excellent post too.

Anne Marie writes of how “the word awareness is like nails on a chalkboard.  Even in areas of the world, or communities in this country that are not in this pink stranglehold, I submit that what we need is **education** not awareness.”

Stacey wants us to move from awareness to action and encourages readers to sign up for Dr Susan Love’s Army Of Women , Renn urges us to sign up for the HOW (Health of Women) study, and Debbie wants us us to get on board the Think Before You Pink campaign.

Many of the fund-raising efforts around this time focus on coffee mornings, cake sales, etc., and Jo’s point that we should be focusing more on healthier alternatives, is a great point.

So much has been happening in Jen’s world this past week – first she was on the TODAY show, then, she wasn’t, then she was again – best to read for yourself all about her whirlwind week which culminated in Jen finally having her voice on metastatic breast cancer being heard.

For more Pinktober related posts, read Luna Tech Chick, Woman In The Hat, Telling Knots, Dglassme’s Blog, Dancing With Cancer, Living With Mets, The New Normal, Young Survival Coalition, Team SLeft Boob Gone Rogue, Searching For EMWAAuthentically Bold: Rebeccaand Women With Cancer. 

Elizabeth had a scan this week and naturally it was an anxiety-filled time leading up to it. All was well with her scan, but that doesn’t mean the anxiety goes away:

For me as a cancer survivor, it is surreal at times to realize that I can’t trust my own sense of my body. I can’t gauge my own health. My body can lie to me.

When is it time to stop treatment? Dr Don Dizon grapples with that question in his latest ASCO blog:

When I sit with someone who might be nearing the end of life, I grapple with so much uncertainty that it makes me anxious. I am not divine and cannot predict with any degree of certainty how much time one might have left. I cannot guarantee that a treatment will or will not work, even for the patient treated with multiple lines of therapy. I have seen the exceptional responders and continue to care for some of them, mostly by thinking “outside of the box.”

Why me? We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t sometimes find ourselves asking the question, why did this happen to me?  And it’s a question that my friend Tom ponders on his blog this week. Alternatively many of us, when we hear of another friend who is facing a cancer recurrence, now ask why them, and not me? Chelsey asks just this question in her latest post and survivor guilt is also under the spotlight at A Fresh Chapter.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere…

A gorgeous post by Beth on embracing our humanness.

Andrea has written a terrific piece on BRCA testing.

The life-long losses of infertility on the Ever Upward blog.

Great advice from Helen on how to protect yourself after lymph node removal.

Melissa shares information on triple negative breast cancer.

Catherine shares the secrets of her success with crowdfunding support for her first novel Claire Never Ending.

Advice from Gai on getting yourself out of a rut.

Katy’s post in response to Ezekiel Emanuel’s recent article in The Atlantic on why he hopes to die at 75 is a stunningly beautiful read.

Jackie lists ten things she did because of cancer.

An appointment and some art on the Pink Underbelly blog.

Rachel writes about her experience of being a previvor.

Nancy features two terrific guest posts by previvor, Ally Durlestor, and her Mom, Nicki, a cancer survivor and author of The Pink Moon Lovelies.

Both Sarah and Darryle pay tribute to Barbie Ritzco, part of David Jay’s Scar Project, who died at age 39, cutting short a remarkable life.

Philippa is reflecting on her fifth cancerversary and expressing gratitude for the support she has found online.

Improving teenage cancer support in Chris’s Cancer Community.

An unbearably moving and poignant account of what cancer stole from Erin when it took her beautiful little girl.

Great post from Dionne on why she chooses Samuel Beckett over positive thinking.

Finally this week, some healing posts from Yvonne who shares a useful breathing technique, Nicole, 50 affirmations for breast cancer, and Stacey Fuller some tips on mindfulness.

Until next week.

Yours with love

Marie xxx