Inside Out and Upside Down

It will be four years this November since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  Four years, damn.  I can hardly believe it.  The journey has not been easy, lots of swimming without a raft.  But, I swam.  And, I swam, until my arms ached making decisions I did not want to make.  Lumpectomy or a mastectomy?  Radiation or no radiation?  Chemo or not to chemo?  Then there was the decision to take meds I did not want to take.  Taxtere! Carboplatinum!  Herceptin!  Tomaxifin!   And, then the meltdowns that could fill a lake.  Like my four AM crash after reading about a women that had to tape her fingernails on to keep them from falling off.  Or, my drive to my 18th Herceptin treatment, singing along to Adele’s Rolling in the Deep, black tears rolling down my cheeks, while just spilling green goddess juice on my clean white shirt.

It wasn’t all meltdowns.  Sometimes I simply just wanted to throw up.  Like the first time I saw my breast after my mastectomy.  Both miracle and mutilated masterpiece.  I was in complete awe.  Whole and not whole, flesh and not flesh, breast and not breast, molded with silicone gel, sculpted from soft pink areola, secured with cadaver skin and surgically stitched up like a Raggedy Ann Doll.

But, during the process, I learned to take a sucky situation and turn it inside out and upside down.  Like when big clumps of my hair began to fall out after my first round of chemo.  We were at band practice.  I wore a hat hoping to keep my hair in place.  It didn’t help.  Tufts of hair caught in my fingers, rings and guitar.  I just stood there in complete dismay until my girlfriend Debi suggested we take my air outside and let it blow in the wind for the birds to retrieve and make their nests.  Inside out and upside down.

And, then there was the time I watched my hair fall to the ground in a heap while having my head shaved.  I was at an upscale salon in Newport Beach, a glass of wine waiting for me.  The owner, not giving me a chance to change my mind, ran her clippers over my head as if she were mowing the lawn.  She then presented me with my three thousand dollar cranial prosthetic (wig) on a pillow like a ring bearer.  It was beautiful.  But, I hated it.  I felt like I was hiding.  So, the moment I left the building, I ripped the wig off, snapped a picture and sent it to all of you.  That wig ended up sitting on my shelf next to a hot platinum blonde the duration of my chemo.  Again, inside out and upside down.

So, when I see pink ribbons and empowering commercials in honor of women battling cancer or those that lost their battle, I get it.  It can be very powerful.  However, I am disgusted with companies using breast cancer to promote their products, like oil giant Baker Hughes and his pink drill bits for fracking and Five Hour Energy Pink Lemonade Shots highly popular amongst sleep deprived college students; practices and products that actually may play a hand in causing cancer.  This is completely insane!

I am also disappointed in organizations like Susan G. Komen for supporting these companies and for using their survivors to make money.  There was a time in the past that the pink movement was necessary, a time when newspapers would not let you print the word breast.  They referred to breast cancer as “female cancer.”  We have come a long way, thank god.  But I am afraid we have gone too far.  The pink movement has cheapened breast cancer, diminished its deadly power, and devalued it like gold, as if it is less than other cancers.  It is “just breast cancer,” I heard someone say.  This is like saying she is just a woman, as Simone de Beauvoir points out in her book the “The Second Sex.”  There is no such thing as just a woman and there is no such thing as just cancer!

So, please think twice when purchasing these products, supporting these companies and giving to these organizations.  I know that I have supported Komen in the past and I am thankful for all of you that also supported them through me.  I admit, Komen has done some good work, but they have lost their way.  So, no more!  Time to make some changes and move on.  Inside out and upside down, my friends!

One Response to “Inside Out and Upside Down”

  1. cmcque Says:

    I hear ya!! I, personally, know four women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. Two of them are survivors now. One lost her battle after a 15 year fight. And, one lived to a ripe old age. So, I joined my family in supporting the Komen Foundation. The first “Run for the Cure” I participated in, I received free samples of yoplait yogurt. They were delicious and I went dutifully to the store to buy some. However, I paused and read the label: high fructose corn syrup was among the ingredients. I’d learned years earlier from a very reliable source, that HFCS is definitely linked to cancer. I’d already eliminated it from my home. I realized I couldn’t support Yoplait in their Pink Label program. After the Planned Parenthood debacle, I couldn’t bring myself to support Komen any longer. How could they make women’s health issues political? Now I see the Pink label everywhere–and, as you say, the market is saturated. We are aware. What we need now is more research to end this disease. Komen actually supports very little research. That’s a good direction to take now. Let’s look for a cure. Come On, Komen!!! Let’s raise money for research now!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>