Ribbons Like a Taunt

The war had hurt me. I wanted the country to feel some of that hurt. Part of me needed to see that, to remind me that the war had been real, not just something I saw when I closed my eyes. I needed to know that the experience had meaning and that the death I had seen really mattered. What I saw instead was people commuting to work and going to the mall, the gym, and the health food store, making their bodies perfect, exactly as they had before. The yellow ribbons I saw seemed almost like a taunt, a challenge to all the horror I’d witnessed.

(Excerpt from Introduction, The Evil Hours: A Biography of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by David J. Morris)

Another sentiment I can relate to, particularly coming off this month of pink ribbons. With all due respect to Morris and his careful definition of PTSD, I don’t think I could have described my feelings about the all the pink hoopla any more accurately or precisely. My experience with cancer has been one of pain, of extended illness, of disfigurement, of psychological wounds, of lingering side effects, of grief for my friends who died. But I’m supposed to be grateful to people who wear “I heart boobies” bracelets because it’s for the “cause.”

As I’ve heard more than once: Hey, at least I’m doing something.

tumblr_m5gm41tv351r8sqxxo1_400Until the awareness campaigns become tethered to real awareness of what this disease actually is, I’d say that doing nothing is a far more honorable choice than doing something.

Want to understand the disease? Ask one of us for our story. We know so freaking much about cancer, it will make your head spin. Listen to us.

Want to really make an impact? Read up on it. Start at the Breast Cancer Consortium. Pick up a copy of Pink Ribbon Blues.

Want to make a difference? Paint a cancer patient’s garage. And if you find yourself feeling defensive in response to this post, I challenge you to ask yourself why.

If you don’t want to get paint on your beloved Female Boobie Inspector t-shirt, I suggest that your cause has nothing to do with me. Or for anyone affected by this disease.

We want to be taken seriously. We want breast cancer to be taken seriously.

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