Here I was, an optimistic high school over-achiever. During my senior year of high school, I volunteered at our school’s first American Cancer Society Relay for Life walk. Attendance was abysmal, but that’s not really the point here. Rather, I was given the opportunity to read a commemoration to my mother over the mic. And that’s what I want this blog to be — a proper commemoration to those who have lost their lives to breast cancer.
Since writing my first blog post last week, I have begun some deep soul searching to better understand what I really want this project to symbolize. Frankly, there are many directions I could take this blog and my writing as a whole. Why should you care to read the shit I think is important, anyways? What’s my purpose?
Through some thoughtful research, it’s clear that I’m not alone in my overall frustration with “pinkwashing” and the exploitation of pink-ribbon culture that surrounds the modern day breast cancer awareness movement. There are dozens upon dozens of newspaper articles, blogs, and books that begin to point out the downsides of the movement (for recommendations, I would suggest this article in the New York Times, this blogger, this book, and this documentary).
What these critiques all share is their discontent with the breast cancer awareness movement and how it affects the living.
– What I hope to accomplish with this project is provide a narrative from the perspective of the lost voices, the dead, who are overwhelmingly missing in the breast cancer awareness movement. –
OK, so now you’re probably thinking, “Grace, can you speak to dead people?” Quite frankly, if I was, I’d be doing a lot more with my time than blogging, let’s just say that! In all seriousness, I want to talk about my experience, having witnessed first-hand my mother lose her life from breast cancer, while also hearing about your experiences, particularly those who know people that have passed away from the disease. We owe it to ourselves to give them a voice, to give them a say, if the breast cancer awareness campaign is going to continue.
Fundamentally, there’s a culture surrounding the breast cancer ribbon that provides a narrative of hope, that together, we can beat this disease and survive! Well let me tell you what, realistically, there are approximately 40,000 women in the US every year who die from breast cancer. So are we actually believing that a disease is pink and bright and peachy and hunky-dory? How ignorant are we?
If we provide a voice, and a narrative otherwise untold and unwritten, for those 40,000+ women, then we have started our own unique movement, and that’s what I want to achieve.
Lastly, I want to leave you all with this. Last year, I came across this blog written by a woman named Rosie from London. Her blog went viral when her post, appropriately titled “My final post,” was published. Like my mother, she was diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40. Like my mother, her cancer spread to her liver. Like my mother, she passed away. Reading her blog brings tears to my eyes even as I’m writing this. She wasn’t famous, she wasn’t a leader in the breast cancer awareness movement, but she was a mother and she was extraordinary. I want to provide justice for women like Rosie, like my mother, so their voices are heard among the smiles and pink ribbons.
I leave you with her parting words, “Please remember me and my family.”