An Open Letter to the “Color Pink”

If colors could read, I would have a lot to say…

Dear “Color Pink”,

We need to talk. I think you’re great and all, but I have a new point of view with your role in Breast Cancer. Mad props to you for all of your awareness efforts and success. You are like the Beyonce’ of Breast Cancer. Your popularity, net worth, involvement with charities, and anthems for female empowerment are all on point.

I have thrived in Cancerland the past 3 years with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC). After facing the new realities it has brought into my life, I have some issues with you that must be addressed.

Let me be clear. I don’t hate you. I still support certain fundraising efforts that involve you and your bestie, “the ribbon.” It’s not a double standard. It’s because so many people are unaware of the darker side of pink. And, there are still some remaining positives that you contribute. I also understand it takes time to shift people’s perspectives- through patience, education and advocacy. I have felt the support that you bring to the newly diagnosed. Any hardship in life is better handled when there is support. After I was initially diagnosed with breast cancer, the pink ribbon and all you bring with it, gave me a sense of comfort and belonging when I felt so much fear and grief. I have found humor in the cute slogans, and such. Now, I see a bigger picture.

Here’s the thing, you cute and girly color, you. We have GOT to make big changes. So, I will try and keep this letter brief and to the point. This task will not be without difficulty.

You truly roll in big money. But, we need to make a difference in where breast cancer funding goes. While treatable, MBC remains incurable. According to METAvivor, only 2% (of breast cancer donations) goes to MBC research. Yes, we need to prevent breast cancer. But, coming from someone with MBC, this statistic is a slap in the face. This impacts care for all patients. If we know who might have metastasis, why that might happen, where it might go and what we can do to stop it, those in earlier stages will have a better chance of never knowing this darker side of this disease.

You have been all too often been used and abused by corporations, foundations and caught in a political world of money and false promises. You might want to Google the term, “Pink-Washing.” Prepare to puke in your throat a bit after you do.

Unless someone is new to civilization, or lives under a rock, they are already very much AWARE of breast cancer. So, let’s check the awareness funding and efforts off our list, shall we? Twenty years ago, you successfully made a shift in the right direction in crushing barriers that shame and embarrassment played in talking about breast cancer. I applaud you. Now it is 2018. People are so comfortable with speaking out about breasts in relation to breast cancer that they sprinkle you on sparkly bras and lingerie like an X- rated parade in Vegas. Sexualizing a serious and deadly disease is not my idea of encouragement or support. Just sayin’. I like a good party, but trust me… Cancerland is no party. A glimpse inside it on some days can be full of grieving, fear, struggles with body image and physical pain. Throw some pink fucking glitter on that and it doesn’t make it all go away. I am not just speaking for myself as a mets-ter. Any stage of breast cancer has it’s own unique list of grieving and hardships to face.

This pretty and pink world of breast cancer awareness has created a jaded view of what it is like to have or to love someone with breast cancer. When we leave the raw truth out of such an important topic, it will not lead to change in the right direction. It may all seem harmless. But, I can personally relate to being affected by major parts of my life being impacted negatively due to people not fully understanding and seeing my situation only through “pink colored glasses.”

If you love your role in awareness efforts, please focus more efforts on MBC. Very few understand or even know about Metastatic Breast Cancer. If someone you know dies of breast cancer, they had Metastatic Breast Cancer. Not a fun topic, I know. But, absolutely essential to talk about for change to happen. You see, many of us with MBC feel like the “elephant in the pink room.” There’s that sense that nobody in the room wants to acknowledge or discuss MBC, because it’s scary.

None of this should be seen as a lack of optimism or appreciation of support on my part. For those that know my heart and soul, that is a ridiculous accusation. I am merely attempting to live this life with terminal cancer the best that I can. And, hopefully make a difference in the lives of others. I will not apologize if that means stirring some shit up. All great change is preceded by chaos, right?

Sincerely,

Sara Hammond

Metastatic Breast Cancer Lifer, Forever Optimist & Advocate for Change

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