As you're all too well aware the last month or so for me has been particularly difficult in dealing with my illness. Living in the suburbs of New Jersey, life can feel a little bit lonely sometimes, and I'm so thankful for all the support I receive from my cyber-community, as well as the unending support from family who continue to just be there for me in more ways than I can count.
But from a societal standpoint, and as someone living with the never-ending challenges of a metastatic cancer diagnosis, I often wonder why it is that I continue to just feel this unnerving sense of isolation and increasing dread that there is very little understanding by the ordinary person of the realities of what a breast cancer diagnosis really means.
I guess this item, received in my mailbox this week, brought it all home, and eureka I got it!
This is how "In Jersey / Jersey Shore Magazine" depicts what they think is important for the women of the Jersey Shore area to know about breast cancer.
First the cover of their "Special Breast Cancer Awareness Issue".
Second, the contents.
On page 32 we learn about Pat Battle surviving (past tense) her "battle" (nice use of double entendre) with breast cancer. Another celebrity breast cancer story. Funny how they all seem to be good news stories; about how their mammograms saved their lives, and how they've all gone on to embrace the mantle of triumphant survivor after so-called successful treatment. And that's the end of the story, as is always the way. I guess no one wants to read a bad news story, say about a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis? Might not be needing the pink pashmina for that photo shoot. Or hair. Or breasts. Or ovaries. Or other body parts or organs or other semblances of normal life you might be fond of.
On page 42 we get what is essentially an advertorial for Dr Deutch's marvellously innovative and oh-so-cosy breast imaging center called HerSpace. Poignantly, we're informed that Dr Deutch also recently went through her own breast cancer crisis, but details are scant at the behest of the good doctor, as she wants to focus on her patients. Patient focus is a good thing especially when "Deutch does describe her practice as a "niche" practice because it operates on a fee-for-service basis, meaning it doesn't accept Medicare or private insurance plans." That "story" got 5 pages out of a 63-page issue.
On page 52 we're treated to a Tickled Pink fashion spread of glossy made-up survivors in their breast cancer charity of choice t-shirts and then bedazzled in all manner of pink ribbon accessories and jewellery all available for purchase at listed stockists. As for the copy; here's my personal favorite..."showcased here in an array of pink items, they show a verve and vitality that is the essence of the spirit of all survivors...." Nothing says verve and vitality like a $139.95 Sparkle Strong Breast Cancer Survivor Necklace I guess!
And last but not least, "Amazing Beauty Tips for Chemo Girls", where two local women have co-authored a book (available for purchase from Amazon and the like) chock full of beauty pearls of wisdom for all us "chemo girls". Shame on me. I hadn't really thought about pencilling my eyebrows in today. But I do hope they have a tip for dealing with the thrush that has taken up residence in my mouth this week. How can you get that just squeaky clean feeling when your mouth is coated in white crap, and ulcerated from the side of your mouth to halfway down your throat? Will I still be able to wear lipstick?
The point about this snarky post is important. This is what we; women; are being fed on an almost daily basis with respect to breast cancer awareness, and examples like this magazine, contain absolutely not one iota of useful, educational, scientific, newsworthy, actionable, impartable or realistic information about breast cancer, period. But there were plenty of coupons for pink products and lists of stockists. And this magazine goes out to every household in my county and surrounding areas! How have we let "breast cancer awareness" come to this? No wonder we're not getting anywhere in the fight to eradicate this disease.
Meanwhile this week, as well as railing against this magazine, I've been dealing with the gift of steroid-induced myopathy and a nasty case of thrush in my mouth also as a result of the steroids that I had to take for radiation. So now as well as occupational therapy for my hand, I must also start a course of intensive physical therapy to regain the strength back in my lower body and leg muscles which have withered away to practically nothing.
And I haven't even started my new chemotherapy yet. I'm saving that fun for next week. What will I wear?
Perhaps all I need is a full face of makeup, and all of this can just go away with a poof of a pink pashmina and a sparkly pink ribbon trinket. Battle won. We're all aware. We're all survivors. Fist pump!