Complaining doesn’t change anything, only actions make change. Be the change you want to see in the world.
I see these types of phrases tossed around a bit in Pinktober. Last year seemed to me particularly harsh in terms of those folks who embrace Pink (breast cancer patients, relatives, and patients with other cancers who resent the attention breast cancer gets) harshly reacting to any criticism of Pink. We should just be grateful, or “do something” to change this Pink nonsense if we don’t like it, I often read.
I surprise no one by saying that many folks find change difficult. Even those who say they like it, often don’t actively change as much as they could (yours truly falls in that category more often than I’d like). Cultural change is especially hard, even harder when most of society thinks everything is hunky dory.
I confess when I began this blog nearly four years ago I was all fired up—I was so excited to see other blogs criticizing the dominant Pink narrative, I added my voice and I thought surely, SURELY, the general public would HEAR US and begin to SEE. Ah, so young at age 40, wasn’t I?
OK fine, at least I found others who understood, even if the world ignored us and kept right on pouring Pink all over everything. So this blog mostly became a place for me to complain, and I hoped a place for like-minded patients to read my thoughts and feel a bit less alone, and to say so. Complaining and commiserating, that’s the ticket.
That said, I’ve often taken it a bit personally when I’ve read blogs or essays or even comments critical of the backlash to Pink—a backlash to the backlash I guess I’d call such pieces. Hell, I’ve even actually been called out once or twice, challenged to stop complaining and “do something”, though that “something” has never been specified.
I’ve said here and in other places that I do not consider myself an advocate. I am wary of that word. There are many leaders in the breast cancer community doing “real” work—going to health or cancer symposiums and the like. Still others know influential people and politicians and work hard to challenge and change laws. I would not be any good at either. My grasp on the science and medical knowledge to attend cancer seminars is tenuous at best. My patience and diplomatic skills are slim to none. And my primary interest in all of this anyway is the sociology of it all—why the hell society behaves this way, accepts Pink each year.
But how does one change culture? What can I possibly do? Nothing, I’ve told myself. Cultural change is too tricky and there are no measurable outcomes that make a big, earth-shaking impact. No new laws passed; no new treatment discovered, no change in medical protocols. So why bother? Do I like ramming my head into a wall?
But a challenge I heard recently and keep coming back to is this: how will people know why this Pink crap makes us crazy if we don’t tell them? Yes, there is a part of me that still is resistant here—after all, not long ago I wrote a post about how I refuse to provide a list of “cancer patient approved things that are OK to say to cancer patients”. I still hold that point of view (hint, because if people listen—they will KNOW what to say to their individual patient, and most importantly, what is OK to say to one of us will be horrible for another of us).
This year I just cannot bear another round of “Awareness”. This year, I will explain to anyone who will listen that Pinktober has become stagnant, we need to evolve from mere awareness to education, to full understanding of the even less-than-rah-rah-cheerful facts of breast cancer.
I start today, October 1, with our #BreastCancerRealityCheck✅ campaign. When asked, if you don’t like something, why don’t you change it, I have an answer. I AM trying to change it. Things are not hunky dory with the same tired old Pinktober. I will tell you all about it. I hope others do too. My question now to those call those of us who criticize Pink “complainers” is: Will you listen? Will you let us convince you?
Join us in this change won’t you? Use #BreastCancerRealityCheck✅ when you tell it like it is today (now until Midnight Pacific Time). Keep it real. Join our Thunderclap. For more details, see my #BreastCancerRealityCheck page. Shout out the TRUTH!