Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Mocked by the Neighbors
I don’t know where to start. Every day I get up and I'm lost. I don’t know what to do, how to act, where to go. Life has been intolerable since Rachel passed away from breast cancer on February 6, 2012 at age 41.
One thing I do know is that my hometown’s main street is lined with pink flags in celebration of Riverview Medical Center’s annual “Paint the Town Pink” campaign. PTTP is “a community-wide effort to raise awareness of the importance of annual mammography.” Their goals are “to encourage women in our community, aged 40 and older, to have their annual mammogram; to raise money to provide underserved women in our community; and to make a difference in the lives of women in our community.”
Riverview Medical Center is where Rachel died 84 days ago. Despite all the money raised for mammograms and awareness over the years by PTTP, Susan G. Komen, and all the other organizations, there was nothing Riverview Medical Center, or any other doctor or medical facility in the world, could do to help Rachel.
Last year, Rachel blogged about PTTP 2011. It was among her most insightful and popular posts. This year PTTP 2012 is back, “bigger and pinker than ever, with a gala reception, celebrity appearances, large-scale public events, and the centerpiece of the schedule: the mass “pinking” of homes all over this side of the Garden State Pinkway.”
Are you kidding me? My neighbors are celebrating the disease that took my 41 year old wife and they're raising money for a hospital to provide awareness and tests that could do nothing to help her. They are mocking my loss in the process. Can anyone think of anything more evil?
The amount of time, energy and resources spent on PTTP and all the other breast cancer advocacy organizations is truly staggering. And I don’t begrudge those looking to celebrate their “survival” or the “survival” of their loved ones. In 2005 and 2006 Rachel and I "Made Strides" in Central Park for the American Cancer Society. Rachel wore a pink survivor t-shirt. We bought into the hype, and didn't look behind the facade because we didn't want to know what was there. Then everything changed when the cancer returned.
Most people touched by this disease are looking to do something, anything, to help. Believe me, we were those people once. However, in the absence of genuine leadership, people will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. PTTP is at the mic in my hometown all month. And they are making a lot of noise.
Unfortunately noise doesn't help prevent death from breast cancer. More mammograms don't lower mortality, awareness doesn't cure disease. Mammograms and awareness certainly don't help anybody dealing with advanced disease. Mammograms and awareness don't provide any comfort from my grief, and their pink flags mock me daily. This stuff is in my face every day, and now it has a gala reception and celebrity appearances.
What’s needed? As usual, Rachel was 100% correct - research, research, researsh. What can you do? Change the conversation. PTTP, Komen and all the others need to fund more research. Rachel's Blogging Community friends have been great supporters. Sarah Horton provides inspiration. Gayle Sulik provides leadership: They know what to do. Follow them.