When I was in high school, my health teacher had all the girls separate into smaller groups. She told us to look around at each of our group members one by one. She then told us that according to current statistics, one person in each group would develop breast cancer in their lifetime. At the time I didn’t think much of it. Bad things didn’t happen to me or my family (note from the future: LOL) and I wasn’t concerned.
Then, in 2009, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 48. Suddenly breast cancer was all too real. It was threatening and dangerous. And I could no longer look at the pink ribbons or the ads for the Susan G. Komen race without understanding how short life really is.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Over the last few years, it’s been the theme to raise awareness for breast cancer by using a lot of pink and making silly shirts that say “Save the Ta Tas” or “Save Second Base.” People run races with their bras on the outside of their shirt. Mysterious Facebook statuses go up that say “I like it on the stairs” as a secret message to supposedly raise awareness. And, to be honest, all of that stuff really annoys me. I understand what it’s trying to do – make people understand how prevalent breast cancer is and how much research is needed to combat it.
But all it really does is make it funny. And breast cancer isn’t funny.
It’s my humble opinion that the main reason people try to make it funny is that it’s a taboo subject and everyone thinks boobies are funny. It’s uncomfortable to talk about so they go out of their way to make it comfortable. They giggle and laugh and come up with clever nicknames for breasts and then put it on a t-shirt so everyone can join in on the fun. And it makes people who don’t know the statistics think that breast cancer is no big deal and could possibly be hilarious. I don’t think that is the intention of the funny shirts at all. It just happens to be the result. I have had multiple people tell me they’re tired of seeing pink ribbons everywhere and how it’s annoying that breast cancer gets so much attention when other cancers don’t.
Do you want to know the real reason that it gets more attention? It’s because 1 in 8 women in the US alone will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in their lives. It’s because it is the number two cause of death for women, after lung cancer. It’s because if you get breast cancer, the odds are high that you will have to have part of your breast removed or, for some people, your breasts removed completely.
Is it funny now?
I don’t want sit up here on my high horse and judge someone for raising awareness with a funny t-shirt. I get the idea. I think raising awareness is awesome. I know that other cancers are just as important and deadly as breast cancer is. But I also know that breast cancer is a serious thing. It deserves respect. Raising awareness isn’t about saving ta tas or second base or boobies. It’s about saving lives. So break out your pink shirts, get your mammograms, and understand that while breasts make us giggle, cancer never should.