I thought the film was done well. It was thought provoking, informational, and resourceful for me personally. I took some notes and it got me thinking. (Remember, that piece above where I shared I was intending to relax today? Well, I don't do 'nothing' very well.)
- The "survivor" status. Yes, I think individuals should be celebrating their living through cancer. However, I am uncomfortable with the "survivor" message sent by the breast cancer awareness machines. This is two-fold with the term "battle" as used in this situation. Whether intentional or unintentionally, well-minded people talk about how this person "lost the battle" or "won her battle" with cancer. What does that mean about those who die from cancer? They weren't strong enough? They weren't good enough? Brave enough? I could go on and on.
- Charlotte Haley is a woman who designed cards with salmon-colored ribbon on them to promote and encourage individuals to contact their government officials to request that more money be granted for cancer prevention. Long story short, Mrs. Haley didn't jump on board and the machine chose a different color. I share this because Mrs. Haley was concerned with the commercialism of those involved. And this story leads to one of my concerns and it is discussed in this film. I admit I have purchased "pink" products. I have thought to myself, it's better to purchase the pink item rather than the non-pink item because some money is going towards the cause. That shit ended for me within the last 1-2 years. Why should I buy a $20 water bottle in which only $1 is gifted to a breast cancer group? So "I" can feel good? So, I can show others how supportive of whatever group the piddly $1 went to? Bullshit. I'd rather give the entire $20 to an organization.
- Where does my money go? As a donator and a volunteer for a non-profit, this is important to me. I have made a stand to not donate to organizations who don't support the values and beliefs I have. Okay, maybe 1-2 slip through because I want to support a friend's kid or something a friend is doing. However, there are a few hot button issues I have firmly come to stand for....equal rights for all and a woman's ability to choose. You may not agree with me and that's okay. It's my money and not yours that I am deciding to spend. :) I don't support the Komen Foundation for remarks made by their leadership. And that's okay. I still support breast cancer research and support services, I just do it through a different avenue. I am aware of a large tax exempt organization that has a legal team at it's ready to sue start-up non-profits if their tagline, logo, or whatever is too similar or is possibly infringing on their "copyright." Who the fuck owns the pink ribbon anyway? Who gives a shit? Thanks for spending donor money to be assholes to another cause.
- They discuss in the film about how little money is being aimed at cancer prevention. If we aren't tackling what causes cancer and how to prevent it, how can we 'cure' it? Are there multiple researchers working on the same thing? Is someone doing a project that has already been done? How can I look at all the research for myself and make sense of it?
- Who is sitting on the boards of these large machines? Pharma companies who stand to benefit from treatment drugs? Companies whose products have a correlation to cancer, even possibly causing cancer? How does an organization realistically fund a research project on the effects of pesticides if a board member's company owns a pesticide company?
- Why pink? Pink is supposedly a 'feminine' color. What does our society think pink represents? I personally think of softness, comfort (in particular with the pastel-ly pink) and a "girl power" way for the hot pink, but in a middle school kind-of-way. No color represents the experience of cancer. I get that there has to be a color(s) for a campaign, but the pervasive nature of the pink campaign for breast cancer makes me want to vomit.
- Sometimes the message of positivity is too much. Cancer fucking sucks. Living with cancer, experiencing life with cancer is not easy or pretty. I don't feel that individuals are not given the freedom to be angry. Those affected by cancer are "supposed" to remain optimistic and not think of the worst. How alone an individual may feel at times going through the journey of cancer? Support means supporting people at the times of most desperate need, acknowledging the hurt and the anger, the good and the bad, meeting them where they are at.
I sat there and applied it to my volunteer work and the walk I just coordinated this weekend. How can I change the way I speak about preeclampsia. What message do I send when I ask for support in the fight against preeclampsia. Now, I recognize that preeclampsia and breast cancer are two different health situation. But there were things I felt I could apply. Being sure to honor those who are here after their preeclampsia experience as well as those who are not. I can be better at sharing what research grant $ I fundraise for is actually going for. I want to talk more about personal advocacy as it is something we don't do in our health care system. We are taught to listen to the doctor, to not question, may be given grief or even pressured to not have a second opinion. This weekend I met a woman who I firmly believe would not be here today on earth if she hadn't advocated for herself against a medical team who completely disregarded her, her concerns, and her symptoms. Five years later, she questions them but not to their face. I want to highlight how important support is. Patient support is critical. Support from others is equally as important.
I have put together today that the larger picture of women's health and rights are important to me. Whether it be prenatal care across the glove, sexual education of our young people, breast cancer, domestic violence, or preeclampsia. Each is separate, but yet connected. And there is something I can do. I can continue to write my governmental officials about topics important to me, I can continue to donate to organizations I find worthy, I can discover new organizations I may wish to support, I can change the life of people. Here or across the globe, I am an agent of change.
I learned that I can add a piece to my "about me" life description. I am an activist. For whatever the cause may be, if I believe in it I will do what I can to make a difference, no matter how small.