Four word for stage IV metastatic breast cancer: these four important words describe only the tip of the psychosocial iceberg that is where I #LiveBeyondBC. Truthfully, I do comprehend that life itself is terminal. Birth yields death. No need to lecture me on ontology. Yet I have cancer that’s gone beyond my dense breasts to distant places in my body. So, when someone comments that, “everyone’s going to die sometime,” I cringe. When I received a diagnosis 5 1/2 years ago of stage IV metastatic breast cancer, death became a very concrete part of my daily life.
It’s not some abstraction of some day in the distant future. Yet I’m hopeful that the developments of treatments and medications continue to come on the market. I may look good for someone who’s dying, yet these treatment that fend off my cancer also destroy my body. I’ve beaten the odds which also makes people wonder if I’m not overstating my illness.
Only 23% of those diagnosed with MBC make the five-year mark. Imagine what life would feel like if you were unable make long-term plans because of your uncertain mortality? I must live in the moment, and in between tests, PET scans and CT scans. I’m grateful when the results show my disease is stable and without progression.
I can no longer walk a path that once stretched out as far as my mind could conceive. I’m living with a disease that I will one day die from, as will 100% of those diagnosed with MBC. Please don’t pity me. I share my story because it’s a part of patient advocacy. I want to use my experiences to help others should they become one of every eight women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer; 40% of whom will die from MBC. We live in a time of a disease that’s killing hundreds of thousands. 155,000 are living with MBC, too. These statistics don’t include everyone, these statistics don’t include people who live beyond five years like me, but I’m still alive.
The above is part of my #4forStageIV twitter campaign on behalf of my 2020 patient advocacy for Living Beyond Breast Cancer, LBBC.org can be seen pinned to my account on Twitter @ilenealizah and on Facebook and Instagram. It benefits all people diagnosed with breast cancer – and that’s a number that far surpasses the current COVID19 pandemic. 1 of 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. 40% will be diagnosed with secondary breast cancer or metastatic breast cancers. Yet there’s only a single day dedicated to metastatic breast cancer – October 13th. A single day represents the 114 people who will die that day of the 155,000 who we know have a terminal illness. Or that it kills 100% of all those diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
A single day in the middle of 31 days of pink, feel-good fund raising, walks, runs, talks, zoom calls, tweets and Facebook posts. It’s not addressing the fact that the retailers and consumer brands that use our illness to make themselves look like they care and are philanthropic heroes of breast cancer awareness. Some are. Many are not. Please read Breast Cancer Actions corporate giving policy and it’s very important information on why we must ask the hard questions and advocate for transparency in corporate giving https://bcaction.org/our-take-on-breast-cancer/patients-before-profits/#anchor1
Mamba Moose and Revolta
I love a good smoothie. Some days it’s the only nutrition I can get down my gullet. Last year the retailer of such juicy drinks gave some portion of their sales for the month of October to “breast cancer.” Now I’m not certain of how giving a disease money helps fend it off. If anything, it seems like it would help the disease to propagate across more than 1:8 women. So I asked the sweet 19 year old worker if she knew what percentage of my $8.00 smoothie would go to “breast cancer” and to which charitable organization it would help. She looked panicked and dodged my bullet by offering to go get her manager. Same question to you, manger of a smoothie shop that rhymes with Mamba Moose and Samba Spruce. She said that corporate didn’t inform her or the store what the details were of the great fundraising push. I asked who I could call to find out and she said she didn’t know.
Smoothie move. Thanks for pink washing my favorite daytime food. I asked every other shop, restaurant, and other retail establishment I entered last year that promoted an unspecified percentage of people’s dollars spent to help beat breast cancer. Mostly, I received the same or similar response. I left my phone number with the district manager in San Jose at the beauty outlet that rhymes with Revolta, who promised to find out and give me a call.
Can you guess the results of this fact finding mission?
A. Call from district manager with the percentage and the benefiting organization.
B. Call from same DM with the sad news she tried but was unable to find out the answer to my question.
C. A call from the VP of marketing of Revolta with a gift certificate to help afford the pricy makeup I buy to make me feel human and the information I requested.
D. None of the above and no call or communication from anyone.
If you chose D, you’re correct. No one called or sent an email or snail mail or any kind of communication at all. Breast Cancer Action https://bcaction.org has lots of incredibly useful information and I highly recommend their site to you for a good look into the use of breast cancer as marketing tool. There’s plenty of ribbons and t-shirts and Other forms of wearable items that people feel less guilty about real dollars to real organizations.
A Real Pink Contest for Real Prizes
Maybe I’m unique. Maybe you’ve had dissimilar experiences and have gotten satisfactory answers from the corporate giving machines. I’d love to hear from you and challenge you to a small contest. If you win I will be giving away valuable prizes as a gift for your efforts.
The 2020 Pink Washing Awareness Contest
To win you must seek out answers from three (3) corporate entities and write your findings into a short paragraph in the comments section below to report on your findings. You must also use at least one social media platform (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. etc.) to promote your findings and copy and paste the link back to this post where you’ll put your findings in the comments section.
Extra bonus points if you’d like to do a guest blog post for your interesting escapades into the world of pink washing for pinktober!
First prize: $200 dollars to spend in my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/yeuxdeux on anything you choose! That’s right. Free domestic shipping but please help if you live outside of the US by covering the 1/2 the cost of shipping.
Second prize: 100 dollars to spend in my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/yeuxdeux on anything you choose! That’s right. Free domestic shipping but please help if you live outside of the US by covering the 1/2 the cost of shipping. To win second prize you must find the same information from one corporate entity and write a paragraph to appear on https://cancerbus.com/ – also use at least one social media platform to promote your findings and link back to the post on my site once it’s completed.
Third prize: Promote this contest on your blog, social media platforms and so on – whomever can count up the most promotions and links back to my blog post will win $50 dollars to spend at my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/yeuxdeux – you must include the url for this post and get creative in how you’d like to promote the contest.
The contest closes at the end of #breastcancerawarenessmonth – November 1st, 2020 – and winners will be notified by November 15th. You’ll have until the end of the calendar year to select your prize. And gentlemen, I also carry men’s items and what a fabulous way to thank the woman or man in your life with a beautiful antique or vintage gift in time for the holidays.
You do not need to have cancer to enter. You do not need to ask large chains or huge retailers – it can be local shops too, but we want to call attention to using pink washing as a marketing tool and not a real way to raise awareness or help people, charitable organizations, or research with monies collected to enhance their brand. Breast cancer isn’t a tool for making companies look good and which profit on the suffering of human beings. It’s a serious matter.