|Fxck Cancer: Respect the Rays|
Because of my campaign name (“Black is the New Pink”), I was recently asked, “What do you have against breast cancer?” My answer is, “everything…I hate breast cancer.” In fact, I hate all cancers. But what I think the person meant to ask me was, "What do you have against breast cancer AWARENESS?"
Absolutely nothing. Yes, I suffer from pink envy as many others do from different cancer communities, but I hate all cancers, therefore I love all efforts to raise awareness and funds to fight all cancers.
When I was a kid, cancer was something other people got far away. Then a little girl named Emily who lived across the street got brain cancer. She was only a year or two older than me. Because this was my only real exposure to cancer, as a child I thought cancer was strictly a brain disease. And I learned that it killed little girls.
Of course as I grew up, I became aware of other cancers, and fortunately it didn’t touch our family. No, heart disease haunted our family medical history…cancer was for other people.
In 2003 or 2004, that all changed. My mom was diagnosed with lung cancer after a lifetime of smoking. Her prognosis was not good. Around the same time, my brother was initially diagnosed with early-stage melanoma. Half of my original family of four was suddenly stricken with cancer. Mom died in 2005 and later that year my urologist stated that I possibly had prostate cancer. I went through two painful biopsies to determine that I was clear…for the moment. In 2010, my brother’s melanoma had returned and he died within months. Within that same period, I had cousins stricken with other cancers…throat and breast. Now these past few weeks, I’ve learned of breast cancer diagnoses for a distant relative and a colleague.
I hate cancer.
The reason I’ve taken up the fight against melanoma rather than lung, prostate or breast cancer is that melanoma is SO misunderstood. “It’s just skin cancer.” “I’ll get it cut out.” “A base tan is a healthy thing.” No other cancer seems to be surrounded by as much ignorance as melanoma…and this ignorance (and stupidity) can lead to death.
The only other cancer I can think of that has a history of such public ignorance and misinformation is lung cancer with respect to smoking, but that awareness battle has been won. People now know and understand that smoking is bad. Right now, the majority of the population seems to be dangerously unaware of how serious melanoma can be, how easy it can be to get, and how simply it can be fought. I want to be a part of that cultural change.
But make no mistake, I hate all cancers…every single one.
Many thanks to my friend Timna of Respect the Rays for allowing me to use her photo. (If you haven't read her blog or followed her on Facebook yet, do so immediately!) Her Fxck Cancer hat and pose matched my mood perfectly as I was composing this post…I just had to use it. Thank you Yogina Princess.