Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I'm not entirely sure as I'm going to see how the next few days evolve but I may be taking a mental health break.  A couple of days of some reruns.  I have a meeting tonight at MSK for all of the hospital volunteers.  It's an annual event and it will be my first time attending as I've only been volunteering at the hospital for about ten months.  Tomorrow, I have a meeting to talk to a few people about my experience with chemotherapy.  Given the chat on Monday evening which was devoted to chemobrain, let's see what, if anything, I can recall of the experience.  Friday afternoon, I'm picking up my niece for a LONG weekend.  She's staying until Monday.  She "graduated" and will attend kindergarten in the fall.  It promises to be a weekend where I will be on proverbial roller skates.  I may have myself tied in knots until next Tuesday.

I do want to write a summary about our chat on chemobrain but it may require more brain power than I can muster at the moment.  In the meantime, because of something I saw yesterday, I feel the need to reprint a piece that I just posted on this blog two weeks ago.  We are getting a bit divisive in this pink stuff.  If our goals are common and our hands are clean, it's time we begin to be more accepting of one another.  I have my opinions and I stand by my opinions but I also respect the opinions of others.

We have a mess to untangle and we are not going to untangle it by scattering our energy in five different directions.  One Thing At The Time.  And, as I've learned over the years in my relationships with my kids, my husband, my siblings, we must pick our battles.  We can't fight over every little thing.  We can't lose sight of the big picture.  We are on the verge of a pink implosion.  That has to be stopped so we can progress.  More on this cloak and dagger talk as I have the brain power to dig in.

Until then..... uncut, unedited and without interruption, this was titled, If You Must Buy Pink, Heed The Signs.  It was posted on May 25th.  This pretty much sums up the core of my beliefs and the manner in which I feel would be a good way to start untangling the mess.  It does not, as you will see, include cramming my beliefs down the throats of anyone.  Live and let live.  So here goes.

It’s not easy being a smart ass.  It takes work.  It also requires fact checking.  I try not to jump to conclusions.  I try to keep my big mouth SHUT until I do a little digging.  It’s wrong to presume there is a self-serving agenda behind everything and everyone.  It’s me.  I’m jaded.  I’m suspicious.  I’ve been burned.  You know the way that goes.  Once bitten, twice shy…..  In my case, shy is hardly a word I would use to describe any aspect of my personality. 

Unfortunately, in most cases, an agenda is present and what’s even more unfortunate?  Most agendas are not for YOUR benefit.  You are being used to benefit An Agenda.  Someone else’s goals.  If you share common goals, it’s win win.  Being duped into playing a role in something without proper vetting is never a good idea.  You might find yourself participating and later realize it’s something you vehemently oppose. 

Let’s have the pink ribbon conversation one more time, shall we?  Some of us embrace the pink ribbon.  It makes us feel good.  Some of us abhor that ribbon because for us, it’s symbolic of decades of failure and a constant reminder of the senseless deaths that we blame directly on that failure.  Some of us could care less.   Those are the choices and we all fit into one of those three categories: Love it, Hate it, Don't give a shit.  Oh... I suppose there COULD be a fourth category although I have no idea in which galaxy this might exist but technically, category 4..... What's a pink ribbon?  Yeah.  Didn't think so.  Not even in my wildest fantasy dreams.

Moving right along......In this land of the free, I believe we must live with an understanding that we are all different and I’m not a proponent of cramming my feelings down another’s throat.  I will explain my position.  I will listen to theirs.  One of us may change our opinion.  Or not.  But in an honest and healthy discussion, in a constructive conversation, each party should walk away with a better understanding of views different than their own. 

This is good.  This is diversity.  This is what it means to be free and to live in a country where we have the ability to exercise our right to free speech.  Most importantly, in listening to others, we learn.  We broaden our views.   I believe my life is enriched each time I learn from another, whether we are polar opposites or we appear to be long lost twins separated at birth.

Similarly, the language of cancer elicits some rather strong opinions.  The war metaphors are distasteful to some of us.  To others, those words are empowering.   In the home of the brave, it’s not up to me to sit in judgment of others.  If those words are comforting, who am I to be critical of a grieving family for referring to the death of a loved one by using phrases like “lost her battle” or “after a brave and valiant fight.”  Because that’s not my preference, does that make it okay for me to impose my will upon others?  I think not.  It’s up to me to be a mindful and decent human being.  It’s up to me to respect the feelings of others.  That doesn’t mean I can’t state my opinion, but I’m mindful of the fact that this is solely my opinion.

I think my opinion is better than yours because I feel like inciting a riot at the moment.  I'll find the quote and give it proper credit but the fact is we aren't fighting any battles.  Our bodies are the battleground.  Littered with lingering toxins and who knows what else..... and then, we die.  We just die.  No fighting, no losing.  We already lost when we were told "Dude. Cancer."

If you’ve gotten this far and wonder what happened to The Real AnneMarie, hang on.  Tightly.  Here we go.  There are opinions, there are points of view and then, there ARE facts.  Let’s get back to the damn ribbon.  Whether you hate it or you are comforted being draped in pink, can we agree on this?  Breast cancer is not a brand and The Pink Ribbon isn’t its logo.  Can we agree that no one should be profiting from our misfortune in pulling the short straw.  The breast cancer straw.  Are we all okay with that?

If someone wants to slap a ribbon on a product, can we agree that we should know what’s happening with the money being made from the sale of that pink thingamajigee?  There is no one who broke this down and called Bullshit better than Rachel.  Her blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles is filled with information on every item she ever found and every organization whose methodology wasn’t up to her standards.

We are not going to untangle this mess quickly or by attacking the problem haphazardly.  This is going to require the efforts of all of us.  If we do this in a very focused and carefully coordinated manner, we will succeed.  Let's ALL master these skills first and then use this as a foundation to go deeper.  As long as there are pink ribbons, let's make sure we are getting our money's worth.  Let's make sure WE, those for whom the pink bells toll, are squeezing every red cent out of those bills and then sending those dollars to people who are going to make sure to get the most bang for the buck, whether it's research, helping the underserved, assisting women after surgery, buying groceries... whatever matters to YOU... just make sure those who are spending YOUR money, are doing so wisely.  We have to start somewhere.  I think this is a good starting point.  Three simple questions. 
  • How much money from this purchase is being donated to a charitable organization (and is there a cap)?
  • What organization is receiving the funds?
  • How does THAT organization spend their donor dollars? (Lumping a mess of stuff under the heading of "programs" is NOT an acceptable explanation for me, either.  Demand DETAILS)
I hope you will take the time to explore Rachel's blog.  Her information is far more intelligently written and explains these points in great detail.  And with a sarcasm and snark and quick wit that is uniquely Rachel.  She wasn't unreasonable as you can read for yourselves.

This is the last comment she left on my blog.  She died just weeks later.

"Great post here AM in wading through the subliminal tricks and slick marketing techniques we see all too often in the breast cancer universe. But I think you really hit it home in demanding honesty and transparency rather than playing on our fears. Some have interpreted my posts about Komen to mean that I'm anti-pink. No. What I want to see is this honesty and transparency. Given the amount of money that is at stake, why should we expect anything less?"   --Rachel Cheetham Moro

Yes, Rachel, why indeed?


  1. Excellent post! The parts about opinions, points of view and support need to be repeated over and over - it's way too easy for all of us to want to put our personal views on others - human nature, but not very supportive! Going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment is hard enough - we don't need to be fighting each other! We need to educate and support. However I do agree with you 100% that all of us need to do a better job of questioning the pink - where is the money going, and is it really making a difference.

    Have a wonderful weekend with your niece!

    1. Thank you, Dr. A for taking the time to comment on this post. Some of us fall well outside of the goals that most of us are trying to achieve. Most of us, however, are working toward a common goal. Divided, we fall. Or fail. That would be an incredible shame as we have a window of opportunity to act now so that the money thrown at pink come October, will be thrown wisely. That really does matter most.

      We have to crawl, then walk and finally run. The problem with this situation? FIRST, we have to stop the runaway train. Then we can commence the crawling phase. The divisiveness is the fuel that keeps the train accelerating. We must apply the brakes. Again, just my two cents...

      Thanks again.. and yes, I will have a great time with my niece!!! She is the light of my life (with apologies to my own kids...... lol)


Something to add? Do Share!