National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month — OR — Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On

National No Bra Day Breast Cancer Awareness

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***10/9/2013:  I have been completely overwhelmed by the number of visitors this post has received in the past few days (over 130,000 at last count!).  I am not sure who first shared it — or who continues to share it — but I want to THANK YOU all for visiting, reading, and sharing it.  I think the realities of breast cancer are so often trivialized and “pinkified” so I am sincerely grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read or share my blog.  I am sorry to say that my story is just one of many, but with your help, we may just be able to do something to change that.  Please feel free to leave me a comment or to share your own story below — or send an email: cancerinmythirties@yahoo.com.   Thank you all. ***

Peter Griffin / Family Guy “What Grinds My Gears” Episode

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I am not a ranter by any means and I have been pretty quiet about “Pinktober” and what has come to be known as “Pinkwashing” in breast cancer circles, but seeing October 13th advertised as “National No Bra Day” and as a “fun” way to support people with breast cancer has pushed me over the edge.

Are you kidding me?  How on earth could a day where girls and women are encouraged to post and share photos of their braless breasts and to walk around with their nipples poking through their shirts be “supportive” for women who are living with or who have died from breast cancer, or who have managed to ‘complete’ the arduous treatments and disfiguring surgeries required to put them into remission?

I think the answer is simple.  It is not.

Like so many women–and men–who have faced this disease, I have lost my breasts to cancer.  Though I had a terrific surgeon, it was a physically and emotionally disfiguring surgery.

The cancer had gone so deep and was so extensive on my left side that it was at first inoperable.  Even after months of chemo, my surgeon took as much tissue and skin as possible and went deep into my axilla (underarm area).  The cancer had metastasized to my lymph nodes and had invaded them to such a degree that they broke open to allow the cancer cells to go beyond the walls of the nodes.  Because of how invasive the surgery was and of how much nerve damage, etc. resulted, it was not only extremely painful then, but continues to be a source of pain and phantom sensations that affect my entire upper torso even today.

I required over a year of physical therapy just to be able to raise my arms again and I still don’t have full function or range of motion.  And, because of pain, swelling, conspicuous compression sleeves and gloves, I am constantly reminded of the lymphedema that resulted from the surgery and loss of my lymph nodes.  Oh, and the life-threatening infections that forced a couple of hospitalizations and four months of massive doses of antibiotics this summer (almost 2 years after my original surgery), are also a little reminder of some of the things that the bilateral mastectomy and lymph node surgeries have left me with.  And there is so much more…

So the thought of seeing bra-less women flaunting two body parts that I have lost to cancer — more than I already see this on a regular day — does not feel all that supportive.  In fact, it feels quite the opposite.

I think of myself as an open-minded person.  I do my best not to judge others or their beliefs and ideals.  I have a pretty good sense of humor and am usually the first to poke fun at myself.  And I make light of breast cancer and my struggles, treatments and their side effects, lack of breasts, fear of death, etc. fairly frequently.  It is how I cope.  But, given what I have been through, I think I have earned the right to joke and make light of how this terrible disease has affected me.  But if you haven’t been there or taken care of someone who has been there, then you should think twice before you publicize a day that jokes about putting the first body parts we usually lose to this disease “out there” on display even more conspicuously and then labeling it as an activity that helps our ’cause’.

We live in a society that makes a huge hoopla about breast cancer while at the very same time trivializing the seriousness of the disease.  How can we be so contradictory?

While I am beyond thrilled that breast cancer is no longer a taboo issue and that people are talking about it, the commercialism has gotten out of hand.  There is nothing pink and rosy about breast cancer, yet it has been pink-washed to death.  It is a serious disease that kills.

And while I do think we need more awareness and education (about metastatic disease, about how young women CAN develop breast cancer, about how women (young and not so young) DO die from this disease, about the importance of research, etc.), I don’t think we need the kind of awareness that buying a jar of salsa with a pink ribbon on it brings.  While I hardly ever see “awareness” products addressing the topics above, I can’t go anywhere without seeing pink products.  Heck, I just have to look out of my front window to see giant pink garbage totes.  The stores are filled with pink as companies try to make a buck off breast cancer.  If you look carefully at these products, you’ll find that some of them don’t even donate a cent to breast cancer awareness, support, research, etc.  And oftentimes those that do make a very minimal donation — and not always to organizations/programs where the money is well spent. Case in point — during a recent trip to my grocery store’s pink breast cancer section, I found (after reading the small print) that the maximum per item donation to the breast cancer “cause” was $0.35. An abysmal $0.35 for a $25.00 plastic coffee mug!  And, guess what, once that $0.35 reaches “the cause,” a portion of it is lost to overhead, salaries and advertising costs.

One of the most unfortunate issues here is that well-meaning people are willing to buy pink products, even pay a little extra, because they think they are helping to do something to “cure” breast cancer or to provide “hope” to breast cancer patients.  Why is this sad?  Because those dollars spent on pink key chains, pink beer koozies, pink boxes of crackers and pink plastic water bottles could be going to fund research into metastatic disease, better (and less harmful) treatments, the elusive “cure” and, dare I say it, PREVENTION.

My intention is not to offend or to hurt the feelings of anyone who is genuinely trying to help, but I think it is important for you to know the truth.  So please put your bra back on, put down those pink garbage bags (unless you really like pink that much!), that pink “awareness” pepper spray keychain, and that pink breast cancer “awareness” vibrator and dildo (yes, I’m blushing and yes, these are real things that their merchandisers say will “help you raise breast cancer awareness” — though they are shipped discretely in plain, unmarked boxes so no one knows what you purchased) and send a few dollars to an organization that devotes their fundraising dollars to research.  You just have to do a bit of homework or read the labels on those pink items to see where your money is actually going.  [There are pink products out there that do help to fund research, etc. — they seem to be in the vast minority, but they do exist.]

And, if you don’t like homework, here are a few great organizations — there are many others, but these are some of my favorites:

*** Metavivor.org ***:  [A terrific organization…]  From support groups to funding vital research, our programs sustain the power of hope.  Passionately committed patients ourselves, we rally public attention to the urgent needs of the metastatic breast cancer (MBC) community, help patients find strength through support and purpose, and make EVERY dollar count as we work with researchers to regain longevity with quality of life.

*** http://www.standup2cancer.org/ ***:  [Another great one — and it’s not just for breast cancer.  Note that your donation will NOT be BREAST CANCER-specific, but will be directed toward multiple cancers. Since you are reading a breast cancer-specific post I know this may or may not be in line with your philanthropic goals, but if it is, SU2C is an excellent choice.]  “Our mission is to fund collaborative, translational cancer research to bring treatments from the bench to the bedside faster, and save lives now.”  Since Stand Up To Cancer was founded in May 2008, we have granted $161 Million Dollars to ten Dream Teams of scientists and researchers, one international translational research team and 26 high-risk, high-reward Innovative Research Grants.  100% of public funds go directly into research grants. A portion of the funds that are raised from major donations and third-party fundraising go towards administrative expenses and overhead.

Other Important Organizations:

***A number of people diagnosed in my age bracket have emailed or commented about how Young Survival Coalition (YSC) has helped them.  This organization is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. Founded in 1998, YSC’s mission is to serve the roughly 13,000 under 40 (often an under-recognized contingent of the breast cancer population) who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

YSC helps these young women by providing support and health information to see them from diagnosis to long-term survivorship. The nonprofit tackles issues specific to this population, like early menopause, effects on fertility, more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates. From YSC, “compared to older women, young women generally face more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates. More and more evidence tells us that breast cancer before age 40 differs biologically from the cancer faced by older women.”  Thus, the organization also advocates for increased studies on young women with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful.

***If you are interested in making a difference for through an organization specifically targeting Inflammatory Breast Cancer, I recommend http://www.theibcnetwork.org/:  Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC) is a rare and highly fatal form of breast cancer that is not typically discovered by mammogram and often occurs prior to standard breast cancer screening age recommendations. Our all volunteer board is focused on education and funding research for this 200 year old orphaned form of breast cancer. No Lump Still Cancer.

…or consider a group that helps cancer patients and their families cope with their illness.  For example:

CancerIsAJerk.org  — This is a charity my dear friend jme set up to help families touched by cancer.  You can make a financial donation  or  if you’d like to have a tangible something to wear to show your support, you can purchase a “Cancer Is a Jerk” t-shirts with all proceeds going to help actual families touched by cancer.  You can also contact jme through the charity if you’d like to sell shirts as a fundraiser with all proceeds going to benefit cancer family applicants in general OR designate a specific family of your choosing.

And don’t underestimate the value of local organizations.  My local Breast Cancer Coalition is a perfect example.  The Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester‘s mission is to make the eradication of breast cancer a priority through education and advocacy; to empower women and men to participate fully in decisions relating to breast cancer; to provide support to those coping with a breast cancer diagnosis; and to focus research into the causes, prevention, treatment and cure of breast cancer.

Also local for me is The Karen Carson Crane Foundation.  Founded by Karen’s siblings after she died of breast cancer, the mission of the Karen Carson Crane Foundation (“the KCC Foundation”) is to provide support and financial assistance for individuals affected by breast cancer; to encourage breast cancer patients to have the strength, courage and passion to overcome their disease; to support local organizations that assist breast cancer patients; and to donate a portion of its fundraising dollars to organizations that research and promote alternative cancer treatment methods.  

There are many other great organizations and groups out there — these are just a few.

And if you can’t help with a financial donation, consider volunteering your time or talents.  Perhaps to local cancer patients — bringing a meal or knitting a chemo cap or scarf, or sending a cozy blanket are examples of ways to show your support.   I remember when a small box of craft supplies was left on my doorstep when I was first going through chemo — what a gift that was — my kids loved it and it kept them occupied for a little while when I was really ill!  Or consider volunteering (or providing non-financial support) at/for a local cancer center, hospital oncology floor, or for an organization that helps cancer patients and/or their families. [If you need help with finding a place to volunteer, etc in your area, please email me with your town/city name & I will do my best to help…].  There are many ways to show your support that don’t require $$.

And, of course, don’t forget to go for your regular mammograms and to feel your breasts when you can (and report any changes to your doctor) because doing these things IS important.  It — what I can loosely call a self-breast exam (but which was really just washing myself in the shower) — is how I found my own lumps, about 17 years before I was due for my first mammogram (according to the recommended screening age back in 2009).  If I had ignored my lumps and waited for that first screening mammogram, I can safely say I would have been long dead!  So please pay attention to your body and your breasts.  While the vast majority of lumps are benign, I still believe it’s always best to bring your breast changes to the attention of your doctor.  Thanks for reading…

I will leave you with a picture that I believe is my best advertisement for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

Me -- 5 Days post bilateral mastectomy and complete ALND (Axillary Lymph Node Dissection)
Me — 5 Days post bilateral mastectomy and complete ALND (Axillary Lymph Node Dissection)

Side note:  The ACTUAL National No Bra Day is July 9th annually.  Someone had the great idea to do a braless day during October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month — to support “the cause.”  Adding insult to injury, the day they chose — October 13th — is actually the one day out of the whole year designated for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness.  Sadly, I’ve seen far more No Bra Day awareness advertising circulating around the web than I have Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day info.

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And P.S. — because it seems that clarification is needed for some — this post is NOT about a woman’s choice to wear a bra or not wear a bra.  Those comments miss the boat completely.  And I do not need a lecture on the merits of going braless.  Wear a bra.  Don’t wear a bra.  That is your choice.  Just don’t choose to not wear a bra on one specific day and call it an effort to benefit breast cancer patients or to advance breast cancer research.  Raising BREAST AWARENESS you may be, but you are not “supporting BREAST CANCER” by leaving your bra at home.

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 10/10/13:  This post was written a year ago on National No Bra Day.  Please visit my latest Breast Cancer Awareness posts here (National No Bra Day: An Update) and here (Is It Really “All About the Titties” on National No Bra Day (a.k.a. Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day?). And thank you all for your support and amazing comments!

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539 thoughts on “National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month — OR — Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On

  1. Thank you for this. I’ve been complaining about this whole Pinkified thing for years. I’m about to hit my one-year anniversary of diagnosis (followed by successful treatment) and want to say that if anyone thinks there’s anything funny or cute about cancer, they should bend over and look up their butts to see if they can find their heads.

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  3. Thank you for your post. As a 5 year breast cancer survivor, I am appalled that like most things here in the U.S., breast cancer is all about the money. I suspect that chemical manufacturers of flame retardant and pesticide offer pink products to obscure the fact that their products may have caused the cancer.

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    • You are very welcome, Marcia. I just googled pesticide companies and breast cancer awareness to see if your assumption is correct and was shocked to see that Zeneca Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of name brand Tamoxifen, was (or is?) owned by Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), manufacturer of chemicals linked to breast cancer and other cancers. And that for at least 10 years beginning in “1985, Zeneca/ICI was the sole funder of October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM)” and, in return for the funding they provided, they were given control over the information and misinformation disseminated about breast cancer and its causes.
      I’m not sure how old this information is or if this is still going on to some degree, but it was true at one point and is shocking to even me.
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment, Marcia. I’m sorry you’ve also faced this disease and I wish you all the best. Warmest wishes, Leisha

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  4. Thank you for posting. As one who sells a pink item to donate money to cancer research I may change the color. I never really thought of it the way so many have posted here. I will continue to give the money from the sales of item to cancer research but will change the color. I lost my dad to cancer, my 7 yr old niece was just diagnosed with cancer, feeling helpless I wanted to do something more. I agree with the stupidity of the bra’s off for breast cancer awareness. It made absolutely no sense to me.
    Thank you. Courage and prayers to you all.

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    • Joni, speaking as a 2-time survivor, I think efforts like yours are to lauded. If you want to keep the pink, you go ahead. My argument against pink merchandising is the national marketing of brands that profit from breast cancer awareness. If you are not profiting, you have no reason to stop. Thanks for your efforts.

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    • Joni, I agree with Scarlett’s comment and appreciate your donations to cancer research. I understand that sometimes folks would like a tangible “something” and if all of the money you are generating is being donated to a worthy cause, then I also think you deserve my thanks. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad and sorry you are again facing cancer with your niece. Warmest wishes during this difficult time, Leisha

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  5. As a 3-year leukemia survivor, I don’t get to see such crass commercialism presented on my behalf, but I’m with you all on the need for more research not only for surviving but for better quality of life afterwards. For all the ignorance that’s out there, there are more who understand and give help in so many ways.

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  6. Pingback: Breast Cancer Awareness: Why I Will Be Wearing a Bra on October 13 | Mary Tyler Mom

  7. hi I love you already. I hope today you ar just sooo much better and doing well.Thank God I have not had cancer yet but having had openheart surgery I truly can say I feel somewhat can feel your pain and understand hoe the long recovery time is soo stressful God blessyou

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    • Aw, thank you so much, Janet! I’m so sorry to hear about your surgery and sorry you can relate to pain and a long recovery process. I hope you are getting stronger each day. Thanks so much for taking the time to read/share your thoughts. Warmest wishes, Leisha

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  9. God bless you. You are so right. This serious disease which has affected so many women and men has been trivialized through the media. I guess I thought if I bought anything with the pink awareness logo that the money was going to research for breast cancer. Now I know and I will forever be more carefully. We all need these reminders now and again. Susan

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  10. Thank you for saying what I have felt for years. It also bothers me to watch the pro-football games and watch all those players wearing pink … and I wonder how many of those very well paid players have ever donated a dime to breast cancer programs.

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  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I am a 3 year breast cancer survivior. I was diagnosed at age 40. I was going through treatments and had 2 little children… totally stressed out and out of my mind. I was having a particularly bad day and went to the store to try and escape the constant and overwhelming thoughts of my situation. I remember being so Disgusted when I was in the checkout line and saw that the toilet paper I was getting ready to buy had pink ribbons all over it. I just wanted to forget about it for a little bit and there it was the pink ribbon. I so agree that it’s too overdone. I wish you all the best in your journey… I always tried to live my best life, one day at a time!!!!!
    God Bless you!

    Amy

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    • Thank you, Amy! Such wonderful advice, to live your best life, one day at a time! I’m working on this…I don’t know if you agree, but it’s definitely harder than it sounds! I’m sorry for your own experiences with breast cancer and I wish you and your little ones all the best…
      Warmest regards, Leisha

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  13. Thank you for your post! I work in a laboratory that organizes cancer patient materials for clinical trials – I see so many young women come through with breast cancer and IBC….it just boggles my mind! The pink campaigns are wonderful to raise awareness, but I wish people would understand that that’s pretty much all they are doing. I hope your post will help get the message out and that they will maybe send those few bucks to one of the fabulous organizations you mentioned or directly to hospitals in their area that are involved in research – THAT is what will make cancer history! God bless 🙂

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    • Thanks so much for your supportive comment. I appreciate your perspective! It must be difficult seeing so many young women coming through with cancer. I hope that one day you begin seeing less people of all ages in need of cancer treatment. Thank you, Heather! Warmest wishes, Leisha

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  14. Thanks for the fresh insight into a topic I’ve thought about before but not in quite this way. Pinkwashing seems self-evident and I’ve long wished people would be more thoughtful about where they send their hard earned $. Best wishes to you going forward…

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  15. When I read that Janet Alton wrote,”Thank G-d that I have not had cancer yet..” I thought to myself, “I’m not the only one who has that thought of the dreaded “C” hanging over my head”. Breast Cancer has been drummed into us so diligently that I often wonder, will my next mammogram be “THE ONE”? “THE ONE” that puts me into THAT PLACE of enormous FEAR?
    My son’s godmother had two mastectomies a year apart and I was so proud of her that she could reach high up into the cabinet to grab – yep – a can of SOUP! She brought tears to my eyes. While she was going through the treatment, her mother was dying of lung cancer. No one in their home ever smoked!
    The cancer most seen in my family is uterine and cervix. Back in the 1950s my mother’s oldest sister refused to get treatment and she died. Her youngest sister got treatment and is still alive and well today at the wonderful chipper and cantankerous age of 80+(She was cantankerous as a young woman as well!)
    My own daughter at age 34, had cervical cancer 16 years ago and counting. Her daughter was diagnosed with HPV at the age of 24 from her pap smear, 5 years ago. She was devastated at the news and the foreboding that came with it.
    When I was 21 I had an extremely extensive bout of excruciatingly painful to the point of I could not sit or lay down without pain, from ENDOMETRIOSIS. It is a phenomenon where the cells from the uterine lining get loose and attach to all and any areas of the abdominal cavity. They grow and each one creates it’s OWN little uterine lining wherever it sets up to do so. Which meant hemorrhageal menstruation. I always cautioned my daughter and granddaughter about this as it increases a woman’s risk for uterine cancer from the location of any one of those cells.The treatment 46 years ago was scraping the cells away which was extremely involved surgery with a long recovery time and the cells most likely would grow again because new cells continue to flow out of the uterus and attach somewhere. I could have had a hysterectomy but my doctor felt that I was too young and even though I had 2 children already I may decide to have more children later which I did not do so I still have all of my parts. The treatment was decided to be injections every few days of a hormonal something that shrinks the cells. The treatment continued for several weeks after there were no more signs of the stray cells from the ENDOMETRIOSIS. However, the medication in the injections began a weight gain which was impossible to control. I began having JET BLACK MENSIS which the doctor said was “OLD BLOOD” which had remained in the uterus after my monthly menstruation which sounded completely absurd and impossible to me but that was what I was told by 2 doctors so it was the prevailing belief of the time and the mensis was odorous as well!
    I’d gain as much as 30 pounds one month and the next month gain nothing. That is how it was for years. Sometimes it was a gain of only a few pounds. Of course the doctor claimed it had NOTHING to do with the injections but I knew that it did because that is when the weight gain began. The every other month weight gain ceased for a few years but I could not lose even with a supervised diet. Then when menopause came along, the weight gain joined hands with it and now I am told that I cannot lose weight because my body is in a starvation/survival mode from literally eating too few calories for a prolonged period of time. I would have been a GREAT CAVE WOMAN and would have certainly SURVIVED RECURRING FAMINES! All joking aside…The synthetic hormone mixture that was injected into my system every 4 days for more than 6 months wreaked havoc on my endocrine system so I have no idea if one of these days, at 67 years of age with advanced osteo-arthritis I will get THE ONE – the pap or mammo that each of us dreads!
    My percentage of possibility is increased due to factors….so are the chances of my 2 granddaughters- both of whom have had to face the forerunners of Cancer at such a young age, and my daughter also.
    The irony is that we are not a family of sugar eaters. I began growing organic gardens in 1985. The produce was eat off the vine delicious! We have been organic people since the beginning and all of my children and grandchildren are health enthusiasts. Even so, we still have faced these challenges and live under the shadow of “THE ONE” so like Janet my family members and I are in the YET ZONE.
    On the male note, my brother, at 50, in exceptionally good health, was diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer and had the most radical of surgeries with absolutely NO SYMPTOMS OF ANY KIND PRIOR TO THE ROUTINE EXAM.
    Then my children’s father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at about age 66. He was able to successfully beat the cancer with treatment.That raises the possibility of prostate cancer considerably for my son who is approaching 50 and my 3 grandsons because prostate cancer has now appeared in both his mother’s brother and his father, himself.
    Really scary for me. My entire family and dare I say, all of the American people are living in the “YET ZONE”?
    We are a family of cautious eaters and STILL the “C” is in our lineage and the American diet is supposed to be the culprit of the “C” so is it REALLY?
    For myself, I am moving out of the “YET ZONE”. I am going to continue with my preventative exams, as are my daughter, daughter-in-law and my grandchildren -male and female as tests apply. We just cannot allow ourselves to be held captive by the “YET”.
    Granted, gone are the days when I so carefreely waltzed into my gyn’s office for a pap and went on my merry way without that cloud of “YET” following me everywhere.

    Thank-you for giving me the space to express my angst over the “C” word and the “YET ZONE”.
    Fortunately as many of the people posted here, the survival rate is extremely high for these womenly “C”s. Look at Robin Roberts and her courageous battle with the second cancer as a result of her breast cancer treatment. She looks great and is back to her job as well.

    You survivors and family of survivors have a huge banner above you telling the world that IT CAN BE DONE. WE CAN FIGHT THE BIG “C” AND WIN!!!

    May G-d hold each of you courageous fighters and SURVIVORS in the Palm of His Hand!

    No one is DYING of Cancer. Anyone undergoing treatment is learning TO LIVE WITH CANCER while GETTING RID OF IT!
    Shi-Loh.

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    • Shi-Loh – “no one is dying of cancer?” Don’t tell that to my friend who buried her 55 yo husband yesterday who suffered thru 6 years of cancer…We don’t have a cure…yet!

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  16. I commend you for what you went through (I do not know how it feels, but I imagine it is emotional and scary).
    You make a great point, October is a crazy month for “No Bra Day” and not wearing a bra is a weird action to take in order to support Breast Cancer.

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  17. During my average day I see women at all stages of breast health. Breast self exam, clinical breast exam, screening mammography, recall for additional views, Ultrasound, MRI, biopsy surgery,, diagnosis, treatment, survival…I in no way want to trivialize the diagnosis of breast cancer or the journey one must endure after diagnosis but…every breast cancer diagnosis begins with a reason to have an initial breast study. We who spend our lives trying to raise awareness must every year come up with new and creative ideas to encourage women to take breast health seriously. Sometimes, because our breasts are so personal to us, we need to have some silly catchy way to inspire women to think about breast health. I am sorry if this offends some who have struggled or are currently struggling with this horrible disease but our goal as women should be to encourage those who haven’t the access or money or time to take care of themselves. I will not apologize for using whatever means available, including encouraging a bra-less day, to raise awareness and make breast health an important part of every woman’s life.

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    • Thank you for your comment, Laurie. While I agree that “our goal as women should be to encourage those who haven’t the access or money or time to take care of themselves,” I do not think slogans like “Save the Ta-tas” and “I Heart Boobies” and events like National No Bra Day are the best answer. I don’t think they encourage women — or men — to take breast health seriously. And, based on the comments here and on a number of the emails I’ve received since this post first went viral, it seems that many people — women and men– agree. My inbox is full of messages from women who have said things like “I’ve been wearing an ‘I Heart Boobies’ bracelet for years, but it has never inspired me to go for a mammogram. In fact, I’ve been putting it off for a couple of years. Seeing your picture and reading your post was what made me pick up the phone. I just scheduled my overdue mammogram in your honor and will encourage my mother and sisters to do the same. Thank you.”

      While I respect your opinion and thank you for your comment, I stand by my own opinion and feel that if the goal is to encourage women to focus more attention on their breast health, that perhaps some means of conveying real stories of women who faced breast cancer — those who’ve had positive outcomes, those who’ve died from the disease, and those who are somewhere in between on the spectrum — might serve as a greater motivation for taking care of themselves.

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  18. Reblogged this on Hippie Cahier and commented:
    I think this post is important enough to repost.
    This line particularly resonates with me and reminds me of what a friend, an advertising manager for a multinational corporation, once referred to as “the marketing of a disease” : While I am beyond thrilled that breast cancer is no longer a taboo issue and that people are talking about it, the commercialism has gotten out of hand. There is nothing pink and rosy about breast cancer, yet it has been pink-washed to death. It is a serious disease that kills.

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    • Thank you so much for reblogging this, Hippie Cahier! The reference you made to your friend’s comment about “the marketing of a disease” really resonated with me, as I’m sure it has with anyone who has read it. Thank you for including it. And thank you so much for commenting and for sharing my post with your readers.
      Warmest wishes, Leisha

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  19. In a world where we are overwhelmingly bombarded by image after image all competing for a slice of the mind, it is refreshingly raw and powerful to read your post, so gripping and compelling. It grabbed me by the lapels and made me really think. Thank you for doing that.

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  20. Both “Think Pink” for breast cancer awareness and “No Bra Day” to fight the battle are worthless without donations to research to fight the disease.My sister won her battle against breast cancer but lost against the stress on her heart after the mastectomy. No Bra to me, means No Support.

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  21. yes i was just wondering something my mom lives in dayton, ohio and she makes all kinds of knit hats on a loom of various colors and sizes do u think a organization there would like to have them. the only thing is they would prob have to pick them up because she dont drive. if u leave me a message back i will make sure she gets it. she makes them from infant size to adult.

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  23. Good luck to you and all the women who face this awful disease. Keep fighting, stay as strong as you can, and don’t stop fighting!! I loved this post!!I lost my mom 19 years ago to Breast Cancer and think of her every day.

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  24. I would like to find a picture of a man waving his tightie whities in the air and celebrating having his testicles removed. I have the feeling that most men would not find that funny, nor would most women find it attractive

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    • I agree that no one would find that funny. I think I’ve only seen campaigns like these for breast cancer. I’m not sure who comes up with the breast cancer awareness ploys, but I think “they” should run their ideas by a panel of people who might be able to talk some sense into them before they go mainstream.
      Thanks for taking the time to read/comment, Dee!… Leisha

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    • Dee, you are quite right. I had cancer in both testicles and had to have them removed. I wouldn’t think the image you’ve painted would be funny or encouraging at all. All things considered I suspect that a mastectomy is a more traumatic experience than orchiectomy.

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  25. It seems I have been preaching “Think before your buy pink” for years. Educating people to actually find out how high a percentage (if any) actually goes to the cause shouldn’t be as hard as it is. My Mom passed from breast cancer when I was 12. She was 42 and suffered a great deal in her last two years. I did my breast cancer when I was 35. I’m now 56 and counting. For more than 20 years people have been giving me gifts of “pink” items thinking that if they are flying the pink flag they are helping. I have to admit at first it all went into a drawer or a closet. I wasn’t into pink. Then I started asking questions. Where is the money going? How high a percentage is going to the cause? etc. People stopped buying me pink stuff unless they could say, “100% to the cause” or something close to that. You have put together a wonderful piece here to be shared. I thank you. Be well.

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  26. Pingback: Laudable Linkage | Stray Thoughts

  27. Thanks for this post. I found you through Maureen Johnson’s Twitter post about your blog. I am a Cancer Research UK volunteer and I work towards raising money for the research into all different types of cancer, and I was just saying recently that I would like to read/see more of the reactions of the people on the other end of some of these campaigns. Reading your post was a real eye opener and I will definitely keep you in mind from now on 🙂

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  28. Pingback: In The Pink | JOHN LANGAN'S BLOG

  29. I agree with your thoughts on the no bra day…….it is a little ridiculous. And people should do their research before buying “pink”. However, I think the pink ribbon does bring a great deal of awareness to this terrible disease. As a 10 yr breast cancer survivor, I am grateful to those who walked before me, raised awareness and raised millions of dollars for research; if that research had not been done, we may not be having this conversation today.

    I think we need to be smart, do your homework….look into how much of the money goes to the cause of awareness, research, funding mammograms for uninsured or underinsured women (and men), education. But please continue to support the pink……….we have made great strides but have still have a long way to go!

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  30. I really love Yoplait Light Yogurt, and you know this time of year they have the pink lids! I was actually discouraged to actually read the fine print on the lids this year… They stop donating after 15 Million lids are received. Over 300 Million people live in the USA, and I eat 7 Yogurts a week. So I collect about 30+ lids in October, but Yoplait always continues this promo into November and starts it in September, so I would actually have between 45-60 “Pink Lids”. It would only take 25,000 people that eat yogurt as much as I do to reach the donation cut off. I guess I’m ranting, but I don’t feel there should be a “Donation cut-off”. And maybe there isn’t 25,000 people in America that eat 1 Yogurt a day, but I’m a college student and during the month of October my college hands out free Yoplait on Wednesdays for the soul purpose of collecting the lids and they collect 4,000+ of them during this time of year. To think that this is just a marketing scheme for Yoplait during the month of October has really gotten under my skin.

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  31. I read your post from Malaysia and never I would accept this campaign (no bra day – in the month of Oct) this is beyond any civilizations and of all I know, taking off your bra today is as much as insulting those who have been and struggling and suffer with this cancer. Whatever it is I always believe that the personal touch (not intimate) by approaching them and provide needed assistance are the best way to help those patients, by any chance. My prayers goes to all sort of cancer patients.

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  32. I will start off by saying I am a man and not a breast cancer survivor.
    my mother passed away of breast cancer ( spread to lymph nodes then to the lungs)
    my grandmother had breast cancer (other side of the family)
    my aunt had breast cancer
    my mom’s best friend died of breast cancer.
    my second grade teacher
    my first grade teacher
    I think that no bra day is a good idea but is poorly executed.
    I would like to see a no bra day where survivors went without the prostheses that day.
    because it would be a visual reminder of how many people have been affected by this disease.
    I admit that it would take alot of courage to do it and I may not even have the courage to do it myself but I think it would be inspirational.

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  33. Most cancer campaigns have never made much sense to me, for similar reasons you’ve listed, and the whole ‘free your boobs for a day’ one makes even less sense. I also find baby pink is a sickly colour, so the merchandise is already immediately off-putting. Breast cancer is yet to crop up in my life, but pretty much every other one has. All I have is hope, sometimes money when it’s spare, and for me that’s enough 🙂

    But I wonder if it’s because for a lot of people it’s hard to know the right way to support people you don’t know, going through something you might never have experienced? For some, giving money or just simply hoping for a cure isn’t enough; they want to be seen supporting it which is where all the lovely ‘merchandise’ comes in. And then there’s people who just blindly follow the trend without research.

    Just some thoughts 🙂 Cracking post!

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  34. Thank you so much for posting this…I’m with you all the way. I have never suffered anything like what some people have explained in the comments, but to read this had made me realise how much rubbish is fed into the world for the purpose of money. Let’s not forget the endless number of articles about Marijuana/Cannabis oil curing cancer patients and many other sufferers,it shocks me to see how these articles are just tucked away and forgotten about, people can’t seem to take the time to understand that this drug really can benefit us. I am genuinely annoyed to see that there’s people out there hiding the truth. Greed is just normal these days and its only getting worse, let’s hope people will move on and revolutionise these type of events and get over this bullshit merchandising scheme soon enough.

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  35. Pingback: October 13: Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness | Be Happy and Buy Polish

  36. I totally agree regarding the ubiquitous pink we see. I am also the daughter of a male breast cancer survivor. Taking him to get mammograms and such in centers bathed in pink was quite revolting. It seems to trivialize the disease.

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  37. Wow.. you hit the nail on the head! I am ok doing some of the Pink stuff for the month. I have done my ranting on this also. So I hear you..
    I am also a breast cancer survivor. I am sorry you have had so much trouble. I do understand.. people think we are ok after the surgery is done. My left arm still gives me all kinds of problems. Not so much my right one..
    keep strong hon.. we are all together in this battle and we all need to fight back as hard as we can, Anyway we can!

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  38. Pingback: Sunday Reads: October 13th

  39. Thank you for saying what people NEED to hear, and ultimately understand. It is hard not become angry at friends and family when they are caught up in consumerism, and buy pink crap, just to sport it. And thank you so so much for not endorsing the Susan G Komen foundation. Seriously, with all the money that is “donated” there, we really should be seeing more progress in the CURE, not “research”.
    you, Dear, will now be forever in my heart and prayers. I wish you the best journey.

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  40. Pingback: National No Bra Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month — OR — Please Put That Pink Can of Soup Down & Put Your Bra Back On | Don't Play!

  41. Thank you for posting this, so well-
    said. I also agree that the use of a “No Bra Day!”- and Pinkwashing in general- is incredibly offensive to most cancer survivors.

    Trivializing, cutesying it up and even sexualizing breast cancer are all seen as socially acceptable ways of “raising awareness”. I think that mostly, corporations are to blame by using a pink ribbon to sell a product, but eventually that responsiblity reaches the average person- who makes a choice in how they will show support to those who bravely fight the disease.

    Patient advocacy and true prevention (like lobbying for the banning of hormone distrusting chemicals and known carcinogens) are ways to really make a difference, in addition to expended treatment options. I also feel strongly at honoring the stories of survivors makes a world of difference and shows respect for the gravity of a cancer diagnosis. In this spirit, I’d like to share with you my own story of mastectomy scars. ❤

    Scars and Storytelling: A Mastectomy Memory | Rising Lotus

    https://risinglotusdoula.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/scars-and-storytelling-a-mastectomy-memory/

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  42. The dumb thing about that top picture is the caption. Who wants to support breast cancer? Breast cancer awareness, yes. Breast cancer treatment and research, yes. But breast cancer itself? No, thanks.

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  43. Pingback: National No Bra Day | Mae's Day

  44. I’m sorry that you have such a direct personal experience with breast cancer. I suppose this may be why you feel so strongly about the issues of “awareness month” or “braless day.”
    For me as I can only speak for myself, I truly thought I was doing a positive. A solid. By going braless. As a matter of fact it opened up the breast cancer conversation with both my husband and my daughter. My daughter is at an age where the conversations may happen now but the follow through may be in the years to come. She needs whatever I can give her to make her aware that she needs to check herself and be aware of her body. Did I rush out and buy her something pink? No. But honestly if it were to attribute to her better understanding and “awareness” I would. Yes, unfortunately, like most things American, Breast cancer awareness month is hugely commercialized. As long as it gets families talking, potentially saves lives, and focuses on positivity, who am I to tell a person what to buy and what to sell!? Just an honest viewpoint from someone with an indirect relationship with cancer.

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  45. Reblogged this on Johnbalaya and commented:
    Thanks to my blogger friend Mae for sharing this. As soon as I finish posting this, I’ll put my bra back on, and make an actual donation to a cancer organization. (Ok, well, maybe I’m kidding about the bra… but, not the donation.)

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