why I’m starting to dislike October, by Judy

Note: I wrote this post yesterday then impulsively deleted it. I deleted it simply because someone I used to think of as a friend took issue with it, took issue with how I think and feel about my life.

I think now that I was wrong for pulling it, so I’m re-posting it.

You certainly don’t have to agree with it. Your Mileage May Vary, of course. I understand that. And while at times (like lately), I’ve felt angry at my cancer, I also wake up each day thanking God for the day that I have on this earth.

I don’t have to feel a certain way. I don’t have to take on other peoples’ issues, and I won’t. It’s my life and these are my feelings. As I said, Your Mileage May Vary. I will respect that, unlike the person who did not respect it for me.

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Unless you’re living under the proverbial rock, you must know that it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Which probably begs the question — a breast cancer survivor NOT liking National Breast Cancer Awareness Month? What’s wrong with her?

Ahh, let me count the ways.

1. Pink, pink, pink. I’m honestly pinked out. All around, you see pink this and that, pink ribbons, pink whatever. As someone who lives with this EVERY. FLIPPIN’. DAY. 24/7, I don’t need awareness. Because I’m Stage IV (that’s Very Bad, for those who don’t know), I’m not cured. I’m in remission. In fact, as I so clearly remember my oncologist telling me, “there is no cure” for Stage IV Inflammatory Breast Cancer. I also remember the prognoses (two of them) that I received and maybe if those were better, maybe if they were in double digits of years instead of single digits of years, I’d feel differently about a Pink October. But they’re not so I don’t. As my friend Susan said in response to a previous note, “perhaps if we knew that we’d have many more Octobers, it would be easier to bear being surrounded by the reminders all month.” I couldn’t agree more.

Some may tell me to “think positive;” some may tell me that you never know when your time on earth will be up, that you could be hit by the *&^%(@!! bus tomorrow (why it’s most often a bus, I have no idea). I know these things, I KNOW these things, and I thank you for trying . . . but they just don’t help. When I look at my 8 1/2 year old son and worry about him losing a second mother (after losing his birth mother), they just don’t help. When I think about the possibility of not being able to raise him to adulthood, they don’t help. When I think of leaving him and my husband before I’m ready, they Just. Don’t. Help.

More years would help. Knowing I have more years would help, but I don’t know that. I could spell out the statistics of Inflammatory Breast Cancer survivorship here, but doing so will just make me cry harder . . . . so I don’t want to. If you want to know what they are, you can look them up yourself. Let me just say that when I was first diagnosed with IBC and went home and looked it up, I had the biggest panic attack I’ve ever had and I stayed up All Night crying until 5:00 a.m. when I could finally get a bit of sleep. Basically, I cried for two days straight until I could tell anyone, including — maybe especially — my family.

So for those reasons and many others, I simply don’t like being reminded more than I already am of my disease.

2. Think Before You Pink. Not everything that’s pink or even a pink ribbon has money going back to breast cancer research. Let me say that in another way: companies are making money off of Pink/Pink Ribbons without donating a cent to anything related to breast cancer. Not all of them, but some of them. Don’t just buy something because it’s pink or it’s a pink ribbon designed to “raise awareness” or whatever. We are consumers and yes, we are being manipulated by some companies who want to make more money off of the pinkness of October. Disgusted? So am I. Go to the site, Think Before You Pink and learn about how to evaluate items that indicate that they’re for “National Breast Cancer Month.” Do they designate HOW MUCH of the profit will go to breast cancer research? Is it a percentage? Is it a certain amount, and any amount over that will just go into the company’s coffers? Read. Educate yourself. Don’t just buy blindly.

3. Awareness. Unless someone has been under that proverbial rock, he/she is aware of breast cancer. But I doubt many people — except for those who know me and know of it — are aware of the breast cancer that I have, Inflammatory Breast Cancer, the short straw of breast cancers. Or other breast cancers. Breast cancer is not singular; it’s plural, and until “they” (whoever “they” is) start to make a concerted effort to educate and make aware about all of the breast cancers, the majority of the population is aware of the most common breast cancer and believes that when someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, that’s what she (or he) has.

Let’s face it, I didn’t know what Inflammatory Breast Cancer was until I was diagnosed with it.

Truthfully? I wish I still didn’t know, didn’t have to know.

4. Research and a Cure. All the money in the world to make people aware is not necessarily going to research; hence, it’s not necessarily going towards a cure. I won’t be happy about this month until either a cure is found or I’ve lived out the good long life that I had originally intended.

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I do know how it sounds, and I’d apologize if I thought I had to apologize for being truthful. The fact is, you don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to like what I say. You can think I’m bitter (and you’d probably be right there — at least at times I am). But these are the thoughts of a woman living with metastatic Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

Who is not liking October . . . not at all.
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Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.

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14 Responses to why I’m starting to dislike October, by Judy

  1. Amanda says:

    I love this post!! I just wanted to say that I can completely see why you would hate this month and seeing all the pink. Like you say, sure awareness in one thing, and great for those that need a reminder to get checked or be aware of their body…but what about those that are already living with this and need a cure…NOW!! I don’t buy any of the “pink” things unless I know for sure it’s going to cancer research.
    Good for you for writing this post!!

  2. Michael Agosta says:

    I think I understand what you are saying here and I can see how someone might feel “pinked out.”

    One quibble: I’ve never found you bitter, not ever. Indeed, I find your blog posts incredibly upbeat and life-affirming.

  3. justenjoyhim says:

    Thank you both.

    Michael, if I could, I would hug you right now. 🙂

  4. Stephanie says:

    I also have to agree with you. Some may think of it as an “awareness” month, I could most certainly see how it could be a ‘smack in the face’ each and every day of the month. It would be an awful reminder when you’re trying your best to move past the truth of it and at least have somewhat of a great life for however long you may have left.

    You have IBC as well as other wonderful people in this country and doing so.. you DO have a right to not like October. Who are we to judge when we don’t have the disease.

    If someone is bitter towards you because of your dislike for October it’s most likely because they do care deeply for you and the hate to see that you’re not being as positive as can be. To beat the disease. To beat the statistics. To conquer this battle.

    The thing is, however, there’s probably a good chance that this person hasn’t fought this battle and is unsure how they can help. How to make you feel better. How to make you stop hurting. To save you from the pain and helplessness.

    I don’t know about this situation with you and your friend but I do hope you guys can work things out and your friend does realize that you do have every right in this world to hate your disease and hate the fact that it’s so prevalent in October.

  5. Tati says:

    I am so happy that you decided to repost this. You have every right to feel the way you do and voicing it is good. I’ve been cancer free for a little over a year now, but even though my breast cancer is not the same as yours I can relate to the anger; I was very angry. I still am! I’ve been suffering from lingering side effects from my radiation that I didn’t even need to have but got talked into!

    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I’m happy you decided to repost this. I agree with you and my thoughts are with you!

  6. You have done a great service by posting this. I have been avoiding breast cancer month as I did last year as well and you put words to the thoughts I had also been avoiding. Thank you. There are so many emotions that swirl around the issue but I guarantee, not one single person who has battled this disease, embraces the month of October for so many reasons…for me it’s a mix of over-commercialization, bitterness to those who didn’t have to go through it but can wave a pink flag, survivors guilt over the fact that I am still here and others are not and the feeling that I want ALL Cancers to be addressed as heavily as breast cancer is. I fear that the over-saturation in the market will make people lackadaisical about the people in their lives who are diagnosed…do me a favor never censor your writing for a friend’s sake. If they were a true friend, then they would understand the complexities of dealing with cancer and how important it is to speak your mind.

  7. Diane says:

    This is so fabulous!!! You don’t need to apologize for anything! I am in total agreement with you! I just wish other people would get their heads out of their rears and just see the commercialism that is now involved. Get back to research and find a cure!!

  8. […] Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer […]

  9. Becky says:

    Hi,

    I didn’t read it all, but I agree with the gist. I am a breast cancer survivor Stage IIIB and last year I didn’t even want to go to the store because of all of the reminders. You can’t even buy yogurt without breast cancer being thrown in your face. This year is a bit better and I actually could send a message to friends to get a mammogram. Even though my cancer was missed in two mammos. I am glad you wrote what you did! People mean well with all of the “pinking” and I have to remember that.
    I also have been told to be “positive”. I asked my oncologist, whom I love, if she had “positive” people who didn’t make it and “negative” ones who had. She said “Yes”. The positiveness makes us feel better, but we can’t always feel that way.
    I have a 10 year-old son, so I can relate to the fears. Hang in there sister!! I will keep you in my prayers.

  10. mamadragon says:

    I’d like to know why we don’t colour things brown to show our support for colo-rectal cancer, or put a little logo of a sperm on stuff to show support for prostate cancer research. Why is it only breast cancer that gets this special cutesy treatment?

  11. Jenster says:

    Never make any apologies for how you feel and never try to “protect” others from your feelings. It’s your reality and you have every right to it!

    I totally relate. October used to feel like a month-long slap in the face for every reason you mentioned. I admit it’s gotten a bit better for me, but I completely understand where you’re coming from. And if others don’t? Oh well.

  12. Paula Ford says:

    Thanks, thank, thanks! What a heartfelt, intelligent post.

    I completely agree about the “awareness” stuff. Awareness is not equal to cure. Awareness does not necessarily mean greater understanding of causes of breast cancer. From a public health perspective, we have probably long passed the time in which increasing “awwareness” is an appropriate objective – and it certainly is not changing our life expectancy and other health outcomes.

    Thank you.
    Fellow IBC sister – Paula Ford

  13. Laurie says:

    You don’t need to apologize for a word of this. You have even more right than anyone to hold these opinions on this subject. I think each of us has the right to hold controversial opinions and discuss them openly.
    And I agree with this post. Every word. It’s powerful, beautifully written and just bang-on.

  14. lorri s. says:

    You Go Girl!

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