Monday, October 14, 2013

Trivializing Cancer

It happens every year in October.  Along with the explosion of pink products and inexplicable calls for saving the tatas by going bra-free for a day (how on earth does this raise awareness of anything except for the fact that nipples should not be made available for public viewing?), the Facebook games start.

You've seen them.  Last year it was "I'm eight weeks and craving skittles."  This year it's "I'm going to Rome for 15 months!"

And you know what these women say when their post starts getting flooded with anxious questions ("You're moving??  I need details!!")?  "I'll message you."  Because this is a secret game for women to giggle about behind their keyboards (we can't let the men know what we're up to!).  And because nothing helps raise awareness of breast cancer like NOT SAYING ANYTHING ABOUT BREAST CANCER.

Last year I remember sitting at my computer and shaking my head in disbelief as I read one of those candy-craving posts -- you see, the woman who posted it had been trying to have a baby for years, so you can imagine the shock and surprise her relatives got when she made an "announcement."


Er, no, just trying to "raise awareness" by playing with everyone's emotions.  Sorry.

I don't mean to be harsh, but ladies, where do we get off thinking this kind of thing is okay?  These Facebook games do nothing -- I repeat -- NOTHING to raise awareness of breast cancer.  They just confuse and manipulate and disappoint.  And not only that, they trivialize the seriousness of the disease by turning it into nothing more than a cutesy game.

I'm not sure why it is that, of all cancers, breast cancer is the only one to get this cutesy treatment -- after all, there is no "Save the poopers!" campaign for colon cancer and no calls to "Love your prostate" by being screened for the disease on your birthday -- but pinkifying this awful disease hasn't done us any favors.  Instead it has numbed our sense of its seriousness, thinking that we can play games and joke around and flaunt our boobies, and that somehow this is helping the cause.

Cancer is a terrible disease.  Terrible.  It ravages bodies and steals lives.  And the only treatments for it are hell on earth.  So you want to raise awareness?  Donate money to cancer research.  Support a friend in the fight for her life.  Encourage your sisters to get a mammogram.  Honor cancer survivors in your family and your community. 

But stop with the games.

Because when we trivialize cancer, nobody wins.

1 comment:

Cath said...

I'm so out of it. Haven't seen this kind of "silliness" online - but I'm glad. My Mom just had an MRI that showed growth in her brain tumor and started her first week of chemo. Again. It's been a rough week. I agree. There is nothing cutesy at all about the word cancer. Breast or not. Haven't commented in a long time, but still reading your clever words. Miss you guys!