As we continue the long uncomfortable slog through Pinktober, where nearly every day brings a new crassly marketed product, we now find ourselves on the 13th, which is the day we dedicate to learning about metastatic breast cancer. For those of you who haven’t been reading my blog for a while, metastatic breast cancer is the kind I have, where the cancer has spread outside your breast area and attached itself to other body parts. In my case, we’re talking bones, but it can attach to all sorts of other places too.
Last week I became a traitor to the breast cancer community by saying I don’t think breast cancer should have its own month. Today I become a traitor to the metastatic breast cancer community by saying that I am really uncomfortable about this whole metastatic awareness thing. Before everyone gets their pitch forks, let me explain.
The Boy was a preemie, and I do a lot of stuff around World Prematurity Day, because there are still waaaaaay too many doctors performing medically unnecessary early inductions and c-sections, and the consequences to babies born early are real. So, it’s important that women become aware of those risks, so they can tell their doctors to go fuck themselves when they suggest a medically unnecessary induction at 38 weeks. (Obviously I am not talking about the ones that ARE medically necessary. I’m talking about “I’ll be on vacation next week, so let’s get that baby out now.” Yes, that stuff still goes on. A lot.) Awareness about prematurity is important because pregnant women actually can make choices that improve health outcomes for their babies.
Metastatic breast cancer, however, is not something you can prevent with more knowledge. Like, there is literally so little we know about metastatic breast cancer still, that there is nothing I can suggest you do to prevent it. I mean, eat healthy, exercise, whatever you do to hopefully reduce your risk of cancer generally? All that is good stuff, but none of it will guarantee you don’t get breast cancer, and none of it guarantees that your cancer won’t become metastatic. Even breast cancers caught early can and do come back years later as metastatic breast cancer. In fact, roughly 1 in 4 women who have early stage breast cancer will later develop metastatic breast cancer. Why? Nobody fucking knows. So, what good is awareness of metastatic breast cancer going to do you if we don’t even know how to prevent it?
Besides, what I, a person with metastatic breast cancer, need is not awareness. What I need is some scientist to figure out a cure, or at least, a way to keep me alive that doesn’t involve nausea, making my hair fall out, or mood swings that terrify everyone around me. Research is fucking expensive, and we know all that the pink shit you see at the store isn’t going to actually fund much research–it’s mostly going to pointless awareness campaigns that do nothing to help people like me. Actually, it’s mostly going to line the pockets of the person selling it, and a tiny portion is going to awareness campaigns that do nothing to help people like me.
So, I’m going to pretend that what today is really about isn’t awareness of my flavor of cancer. It’s awareness of organizations that fund metastatic breast cancer research–so you know where to send your money to make sure it actually helps people with metastatic breast cancer. If you are interested in donating to the cause of breast cancer, please don’t just go out and buy pink crap–it’s too hard to know if your money is going to research or not. Instead, donate to one of the organizations listed below (note: they did not ask me to write about them) or to another organization that funds metastatic breast cancer research. We’re the ones dying–cancer that remains in the breast will not kill you, it’s when it turns metastatic that shit gets real–and our cut of the research pie is smaller than our percentage of people with breast cancer.
First up is the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. They do just what it sounds like–raise money and spend it on breast cancer research, including metastatic breast cancer research. 88% of what they raise goes to research. That’s a shitload more to research than the big breast cancer charity whose name I will not mention for fear of them suing me. Don’t laugh, they seriously sue people for saying “for the cure” without permission. Oh fuck, now I’m going to get sued…oh well, then I guess I might as well mention that they also spend a way smaller portion of their money on research than most people realize. BRCF, on the other hand, funds research.
Next is the Mary Kay Foundation. These guys have two causes: domestic violence prevention, and women’s cancer research. This year alone, they gave to 4, count ’em, FOUR metastatic breast cancer research projects. You can donate directly (and earmark the money for cancer research, although domestic violence prevention is a pretty damn important cause too), or if you really must shop this pinktober, you can talk to your friend who sells Mary Kay stuff about products that have proceeds going to the Mary Kay Foundation.
Now, if you are curious about metastatic breast cancer and just want to know more, even though there is no information that will help you avoid this shitty condition? Well hey, I have a resource for that too. It’s the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, and there’s tons of info on their website. I always find something interesting on their Facebook page, too. Their mission is to advocate for folks with metastatic breast cancer, like me. Your dollars won’t be wasted there either if you wanted to send some their way, but they’ll be spent on advocacy for people with metastatic breast cancer, rather than directly on research.
Just a couple more weeks of pinktober to suffer through. I think I can I think I can…