How About a “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day”?

I wasn’t going to write about No Bra Day, because 1) so many other blogs I read have said most of what needs to be said, 2) why should I give it more exposure and attention, and 3) I wrote an overly long, overly wordy piece this summer already, back when there was this other No Bra Day (how many are there?!). The earlier piece, I Don’t Want to See It, is mostly crap I wish I had not written, only the final 5 or so paragraphs are worth reading, and some of the sentiment of those will be repeated here.

I changed my mind because as I started mentally ranting I realized that ignoring it won’t make it go away any more than giving it more attention will (more on this theory, keep reading). It deserves all the outrage that can be had.

Who the hell organizes these No Bra Days? There is no organizational name on that graphic (everyone has seen it I’m sure), so I guess it is just some idea someone passed around on Facebook (sorry, I still cannot have a FB page for personal, non-cancer related reasons, so I’m dim on Facebook things). How the hell does it benefit anyone? Don’t bullshit me and say it raises awareness, especially when the top line of the graphic reads “support breast cancer”. Sounds like the purpose of the day is to increase the incidence of breast cancer—the graphic doesn’t even bother to discuss support for patients in any way.  It’s just another excuse to sexualize a disease, and to be childish and talk about boobies. Again.

What I am saying is divisive and angry; I know and do not care. I am so fond of the quote “just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right,” (Ricky Gervais) and I know that just because this event and the participants offend me, I’m not right. Lots of folks, including breast cancer patients, think all this is just fine, so it is doubtful that this event will cease to exist. But I AM offended and right or wrong, I’m going to gripe about it.

Setting healthy ta-tas “free” doesn’t support this breast cancer patient, again, not that this event even bothers to pretend to support any patients, it is supporting breast cancer, remember? It just reminds me of what cancer did to my breasts, and to other breasts. The scars, the ugliness, the pain and surgery. Need I go on? While I can begrudgingly accept that people who donate or participate in Pink have good hearts even if I hate Pink, I have NO appreciation for anyone involved in No Bra Day. Do NOT expect any gratitude or applause for the participation from me. I’m glad that these women are still healthy, still have breasts unmarred by cancer, but I really do not want to be reminded of what I lost. To those who organized this No Bra Day, I consider you insensitive, thoughtless jerks.

I know this day, the participants, and whoever organized it will get praise from many corners—but a quick scan on Google and other blogs gives evidence of some criticism about this event. I wish there more outrage about it. While I have no hope these days of the Pink machine slowing down, I yearn for more concrete ways to express my extreme dissatisfaction. This No Bra Day is one of the most egregious examples of how a disease has become the plaything of an adolescent, boobies obsessed culture.  If I were rich, I’d buy a million very covering and very supportive bras and throw them—well, somewhere, since there is no physical headquarters for this idiotic nonsense. Maybe I’d just scatter them about a big city street, to stop traffic and get everyone to see how at least this one breast cancer patient really feels. Sure, that would just be me throwing a childish tantrum—but the organizers have proven that they are not emotionally or intellectually adult enough to understand the lengthy, smart essays criticizing the event.

Source: etsy
Source: etsy

Why doesn’t someone come up with a “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day”, gathering and presenting all the pictures of so many bloggers (myself included, I would do this) in various stages of lumpectomy/mastectomy, reconstruction or no reconstruction? There are certainly plenty of said pictures on the internet. I get why established groups or projects cannot do this—with establishment comes the need to “play nice”.  Being a socially awkward, complaining Curmudgeon—in real life and in the blogosphere—means I seem unable to play nice.

I’m sure many would find a “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day” objectionable and offensive (see this is where I can use the Gervais quote to my advantage). But here’s the thing: not wearing bras, or even those “tasteful” Pink ads featuring topless, strategically covered, healthy-breasted models for that matter, do nothing to make anyone understand the reality of breast cancer—other than show off what to those who objectify boobies will be “missing” should cancer afflict any of these women. The current socially acceptable image of breast cancer is the bald-headed woman in a pink t-shirt at a run or walk, smiling and being strong. To me it’s like a sick before and after scenario: women before cancer can be sexy and flaunt naked breasts for cancer awareness, women after breast cancer surgery need to keep covered, need to become unsexy soldiers to admire for bravery, but not to be desired.

Seeing what breast cancer is capable of, and what women who’ve had scarring surgery are capable of, seems more logical and helpful to me. On a personal level, it certainly would’ve helped me when I was recovering from surgery and follow-up radiation, wondering what to do. Instead I saw bikini clad women in ta-ta breast cancer ads, and felt horrible, my emotional wound constantly re-opened.

I loathe the battle language in cancer, as I’ve mentioned often enough throughout my posts. What I hate most is that it is used mainly to blame “soldiers” who’ve “lost their battle with cancer” because they “didn’t fight hard enough.” I rarely see war talk applied in terms of a grand battle plan. Why isn’t it applied here? A good general goes into battle prepared, knowing as much about the enemy as possible—their weapons, strategies, the size and the location of the enemy, and what the enemy does to prisoners. Would it not make sense to show what the “enemy”, breast cancer, does to these “soldier” women? How can this proverbial “battle” be fought if everyone is refusing to acknowledge the “battle scars”? Oh right, we’re not supposed to be victims or prisoners, cancer happens to us, but there should be no lasting mental effects, and no one wants to see the scars (as the summertime fracas with Facebook and the surrounding conversations proved)—we either win or lose, and it’s all on us, even if the weapons (medicine) fail the soldiers, no matter how hard we fight. Yes I’m being sarcastic.

This mass delusion of only showing healthy breasts in regards to breast cancer has got to stop. Yes, it is good to think positive, to dream, and to champion the bright side of life—even if a Cancer Curmudgeon just won’t do that. But to completely ignore the reality, to not face the ugliness or pain cancer brings, I assure everyone, it doesn’t make the ugliness or pain cease to exist. Furthermore, wouldn’t seeing pictures of women ALIVE after scarring surgery be, I don’t know, positive? I remember being told on HuffPo this summer that these scars should not be shown. Hope she never has to go through it, hope she never has to see that ugliness in the mirror, hope she never needs to see my example of one who turned an ugly scar into a triumph.

I prefer to know what I’m up against and I’m tired of a socially acceptable conversation about cancer in which everyone covers their eyes and ears, singing “la la la”, like nothing bad ever happens.  Sometimes, ignoring the bad stuff only results in a sucker punch later.

Only three types of people tell the truth: kids, drunk people, and anyone who is pissed the fuck off.” –Richard Pryor

Sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed. –Nietzsche

Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

27 thoughts on “How About a “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day”?”

  1. Curmudgeon, I have been thinking about you all day, while watching football with my husband, and everyone wearing pink, and I said to him why the f-ck is everyone wearing pink? Since when is breast cancer THE cancer so much so that it takes over everything!! Everywhere I look there is pink and everyone is wearing pink – it IS sickening to me, and I’m not only a thyroid cancer survivor but a 9 year breast cancer survivor. It’s actually at the point of being riduculous, and it’s only half way thru the month…


    1. What Kimberly said! First time visitor, first time commenter — but I’ll be here regularly from now on! One question: so there was a fracas on FB this summer over cancer scar photos? What was that about? I can’t stand FB, even when I go on fictitiously, so I’m terribly ill informed.


      1. Hmm, I’m probably not the best to explain it, because I’m not on FB and my memory is fuzzy already, but it had to do with the SCAR project. Type in To the Offended into the search bar on the right; it is a short post I did about it, and in the first paragraph there is a link to a post by a blogger named Scorchy who writes about it and met with FB about it. Sorry to send you to so many links but since she was directly involved–it is the best source of info. The incident gained attention on Huffington Post too, read the comments section in my post To the Offended, a conversation I had with Cancer in My Thirties tells a little of the interesting attitudes over on HuffPo too.
        Other related posts–I Succeeded In Redefining Beautiful Breasts, For Myself, which has links to my pictures and the long winding tale of how I made that choice. I think I stuck a few bits of info here and there in those posts that talk about these strange attitudes about pictures of women and their cancer scars.
        Anyway, I’m glad that you found me and that you’re reading, and commenting. I’m glad to hear from folks.


      2. Curmudgeon, thanks for directing me to the SCAR Project and what the FB brouhaha was about. Bet it was those jerks with the “motorboating” video who were offended…how dare any woman post photos of her less-than-perfect breasts, anyway?! Looks like Scorchy did yeoman’s (yeowoman’s) work for breast cancerkind.

        And…great tattoo!


  2. I think your idea of “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day” is right on the mark. A nice dose of reality would be refreshing about now wouldn’t it? And even if some people don’t want to hear the truth, we still must each keep telling our own. Thanks for the passionate post!


  3. Possibly my favorite line:
    “If I were rich, I’d buy a million very covering and very supportive bras and throw them—well, somewhere, since there is no physical headquarters for this idiotic nonsense.”
    Though it was really hard to choose because I liked them all!


  4. I just can’t even handle this shit today. Seeing all the hyper sexualized perky boob shots with the #NoBraDay hashtag just makes me STABBY. It’s like rubbing cancer and mastectomy and all the scars in all the while pretending it’s good for women with cancer. And it just never ends. This pink cult and save the tatas and awareness through jiggling is like a fucking avalanche you can’t out run.


    1. I started tweeting pictures of my scar right at some of these ijits for what is worth–probably not much! But I just thought, why not really show them you know? But the worst thing is, I think people, even those angry about it, I just picking up on an old image. I don’t think it is a real thing this year. But I’m even more annoyed that people and media think this is a new thing. Like, do your research–this has been popping up for years now. We’ve suffered this exploitation for long enough.


  5. I cannot believe this is showing up again this year. And being designated for the same day as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day just multiplies the insult. Along with “What Cancer Really Does to Breasts Day,” evidently we also need an adjunct title for MBC Awareness Day, like “How Breast Cancer Causes Death Day.” And it’s only September…


    1. I can’t believe it either. Wish I knew who started it and who is picking it up this year–because I’m sure it’s a few different pages/groups. Grrr. The original no bra day was in June or something–not sure whose idea was to replicate on 10/13–but the cluelessness of it all should not even surprise–doubt they even know mets exists, much less that there’s a day for it!


  6. The ‘No Bra Day’ is just another marketing ploy of the fraudulent cancer awareness cult, which is part of the criminal mainstream cancer business.

    Few people question, or have questioned, what’s really behind the war on cancer and the endless calls for ‘cancer awareness.’ Most people would be much smarter and better informed if they had awareness of what this movement or the war on cancer don’t raise awareness about.

    Knowing that the most prominent cancer charities are large self-serving businesses instead of “charities” or that these groups suppress critical information on cancer, such as the known causes of cancer or that many “breast cancer survivors” are victims of harm instead of receivers of benefit, or that they’ve been intentionally misleading the ignorant public with deceptive cancer survival statistics, or that government health bodies such as the NIH are merely a pawns for corporate medicine, etc is a good start to get to the real truth (read the well referenced scholarly afterword of this article on the war on cancer: do a search engine query for “A Mammogram Letter The British Medical Journal Censored” and scroll down to the afterword).

    The recognition that breast cancer awareness was started by these business interests is another piece of the real awareness about the pink ribbon cult and the traditional war on cancer. Or that the orthodox cancer business has been denouncing many good inexpensive alternative therapies (instead they sold you the lie that only their highly profitable/expensive, toxic conventional cancer treatments are relevant).

    So, raising “awareness” about cancer or funds for the war on cancer have hardly any other function than to drive more unsuspecting people into getting more expensive and unnecessary tests (think mammography) and then, often, cancer treatments (chemo and radiation therapy).

    The reality is that the war on cancer has been and still is, by and large, a complete failure (read Guy Faguet’s ‘War on cancer” or Sam Epstein’s work).

    The history of the pink ribbon movement and the alleged war on cancer is fraught by corruption, propaganda, and the hoodwinking of the unsuspecting public. The entire war on cancer is a disinformation campaign. The real war is on the unsuspecting public.

    Politics and self-serving interests of the conventional medical cartel, and their allied corporate media, keep the real truth far away from the public at large.


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