Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. From the NFL to the annual Race for the Cure, pink buckets of KFC to Save Second Base T-shirts, the country is awash in a sea of pink. Yet some experts are questioning whether this awareness campaign is truly helping women with breast cancer.
The stark reality is that in the 26 years since the campaign began, deaths from breast cancer have dropped only slightly–about 2% per year, starting in 1990. According to the National Breast Cancer Coalition in Washington, D.C., 117 women in the U.S. died of breast cancer every day in 1991; today, 26 years and billions of private and public research dollars later, that number is 110. So where has all of the Think Pink gotten us? Where has all of that money gone? Why don’t we have a “cure”?
Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places. Maybe the cure is right under our noses and we have been seduced into thinking that it comes from a drug. Or radiation. Or chemotherapy. Or if that doesn’t work, how about if we just let them cut the ole girls off?
Ours is a predictable Universe. Day follows night. A penny dropped from a 20 story building will fall to the ground. Stick a knife in an electric socket and you will get a shock. Why, then, are we so surprised when we become ill? Do not these same cause and effect Rules of the Universe apply to our bodies? And because we do not understand these rules does not make them any less so. It just makes it more frustrating. And heartbreaking. We are still bound by them. So is it in our ignorance that we blindly mutilate and maim our bodies in an effort to get well when understanding and knowledge and a shift in our paradigm is what is really needed? I know that you understand what I am talking about. I know that you know, deep down inside, that there IS a reason why illness occurs–why breast cancer occurs. And it is our frustration and our sense of loss that makes us gird ourselves up to support each other as we rally together around the pink.
We all know someone who has suffered with breast cancer. Maybe you yourself are a survivor. Yet instead of donning our pink Nikes and walking for a cure to fill the coffers of research institutions and pharmaceutical companies who are no closer to a cure than 26 years ago, maybe our time and resources would be better spent researching breast cancer for ourselves. Maybe we would discover that our diet and our stress and our anger and our lack of exercise and our choice of medicine and our cosmetics all have slowly accumulated over the years until our bodies became so compromised under the weight of it all that breast cancer was the result. We could connect the dots and share and learn from each other instead of turning ourselves over to an experiment of chemical and biological warfare. If we took up the gauntlet of preservation and prevention and reclaiming responsibility with as much intention and verve as we wear the pink ribbons, perhaps we can be the cure…..