Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Awareness and being Aware

Every month now is an awareness month, and with so many causes out there to be aware of, they often overlap*, but in the month of October, you can't go into any retail location without seeing a wash of pink everywhere. And, it kind of bugs me. Now, before you call me a sensitive ass for being offended by breast cancer charity let me explain. The lady in the picture to the right is my Nana. She is sadly no longer with us (it is suspected she was reincarnated as my Aunt's cat, but she was Catholic, so I don't know how that works) but she was a three time  survivor of breast cancer. See, back in the day, we didn't know much about breast cancer, because no one we knew was directly affected by it. It happens. We knew about heart disease and lung issues, but not breast cancer. You become aware of a lot in a short period of time. Now all the women in my family get checked yearly when they're of a certain age. My doctor does an exam on me every year too; breast cancer is not a disease that affects only older, post- or parimenipausal women. In fact, when it hits younger women, it is often very aggressive. Early detection is key. So when you have to live through someone you know and love going through radiation, extensive surgeries, lymph node removal and eventual mastectomy, you tend to become very aware, very quickly. And men, you're not immune. Please, always talk to your doctor if you even have a fear that there may be something wrong.

So now you know, I take it personal when people commercialize breast cancer. It's not so much the commercialization and the splashing of pink on everything, it's the legitimacy of the products that is alarming. Big-ticket causes like Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a prime revenue source for scammers setting up fake charities and milking the sympathies and good intentions of people who think their money is going toward research and helping women. This article published on last year has some alarming statistics about breast cancer scams, and even the results of a Yahoo search on "breast cancer charity scam" are frightening, but taking money out of the hands of scammers and back into research and development is fully possible, just through a little more awareness. Look at the labels on products stating they are for breast cancer awareness. Do they say a certain percentage of proceeds go to a certain fund or charity? If so, is it one you've heard of? If not, look it up. Real Simple has an amazing list of approved, legitimate breast cancer charities.

One foundation that is not on the list, and is often over-looked, perhaps due to a lack of awareness, is Planned Parenthood. That's right, the organization the conservatives love to hate provides early detection screenings, mamograms, and education:
Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses teach patients about breast care, connect patients to resources to help them get vital biopsies, ultrasounds, and mammograms, and follow up to make sure patients are cared for with the attention they need and deserve.
Planned Parenthood also works with the Susan G. Komen Foundation to help low-income women get the vital early detection screenings and exams to help save lives.

So "think before you pink" and ensure your money is going to the right place. And if you want to be a geek about it even the WWE is in on the action with their Rise Above Cancer partnership with Susan G. Komen. I happened to see one of the shirts yesterday on a young lady at the fair.

*October is also Rett Syndrome awareness month. Rett Syndrome is a disease that only affects girls, my good friend Ben's daughter Campbell is affected. He has written some amazing blogs over time about it and his struggles as a Rett parent. Until I met him, I had never even heard of it. Go read the two links there. They're humbling.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing! Also, double thanks for linking your friends blog. I hadn't heard of Reet's syndrome. It's good to know about these things, especially when you work with children. But it's especially good to see the human side of disorders.