Sunday, 7 October 2018

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ Breast Cancer Awareness Month - what we think and how we feel


Breast Cancer Awareness Month - what we think and how we feel

In our weekly discussion, we explored our conflicting thoughts and feelings about October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

Some of us detest the 'pinkification' of breast cancer and find the emphasis on glamour, feel-good stories, celebrity endorsement - with the obligitatory low-cut, cleavage revealing sparkly dress - deeply upsetting. On the other hand, some of us relish the chance to don our bling and sparkles, and happily buy products from which we feel at least some small contribution will go towards raising funds. We are willing to buy into the fluff and glamour because it might just mean that one woman checks her breasts, it might just save one life, and, this we feel, is worth it. Others, while not whole-heartedly supporting the way breast cancer awareness is packaged, are willing to compromise -  we recognise that a "Tickled Pink" tea-party or dinner is going to be much more appealing than a 'Wear Black and Weep' event afterall.

Our feelings about breast cancer awareness as a topic are much more complex - some of us described how upset we are by feeling constantly ambushed by adverts, programmes and pink products. We don't want to feel bombarded by cancer, or that we can't escape it, especially, but not solely, if we have lost someone close to us, are going through treatment, or we are really struggling physically or psychologically. Others, especially those with secondary breast cancer, feel that breast cancer is our reality and we have no choice but to face it every day. We may also we feel that our physical struggles (as a result of ongoing treatment) are demeaned by the pinkification of breast cancer which unintentionally conveys an image that it is a "light" or "good" cancer to get, or our suffering is trivialised by an over-focus on prevention and those who have "beaten" breast cancer.

Sometimes we want to shout our truths loudly, but sometimes we want to be silent about them. What we really want is for people to know what really we go through, how we really feel, what we really have to cope with - the facts, the truth.

We want people to know what we've learned about breast cancer, about the complexity of this disease, about secondary breast cancer, about the way we are impacted by breast cancer in the long term. And what about our emotions we ask ourselves, why can't we share them? Is it such a bad thing?

Sometimes, we fret about what's ahead in breast cancer awareness month - the fluff, the pink, the ribbons.

If we have the glamour, why can't we still have the honesty? Why can't we have balance? We want to show the mixed emotional roller coasters we go on while at the same time showing the world that we are grateful for a second chance, however long that may be.

It's about the balance, but are we balanced?

We want to be positive but vulnerable. How can we express it?

We want to show what the real meaning of resilience is. We want to show the pressure we are under, the responsibilities we manage in the light of the uncertainties and fragility we endure. Our achievements, despite our fatigue and physical struggles. Our beauty, even though we have our scars. Our perseverance, despite all the questions we face. Our determination, our drive, even if we think that it is not there. Our support and our understanding for one another. Our unity.

We want to speak about resilience and how we can show others what it means and shout out that it does not mean we have to minimise our experiences. Without our darkest moments, we know, there will not be light. Our experiences of breast cancer are not all about the light. They are about the darkness too. They are two sides of the same coin.

Please follow our #MyBreastCancerTruth, our month-long project highlighting the truths of women with primary and secondary breast cancer and practice resilience for #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth

You can read our stories here:

If you are a woman living in the UK with a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to join our private group please send us a private message via


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