How Facebook Can Raise Awareness of Just How Thoughtless and Ignorant You Are

You’ve probably heard about the latest Facebook game to raise awareness of breast cancer, asking women to post how many weeks they are and what they are craving. Last year’s game was about the color of your bra and where you left your purse. Somehow, these cryptic status updates are supposed to raise awareness of breast cancer. This year’s weeks/craving meme has the unintended effect of making all of your friends and family wonder if you are pregnant and questioning the status of their relationship with you if they were out of the loop on such monumental news and had to learn it from your Facebook status. It has also caused quite a stir in the infertility blogosphere.

I know it is tempting to write off all of us who disagree with this meme as curmudgeons, but guess what – even those suffering from breast cancer aren’t fans of these types of memes.

Normally I would just roll my eyes at the lemmings participating without giving a moment’s thought to what they are doing and whether it even makes sense, but this particular meme impacts me in two ways: as an infertile, it dredges up those feelings that Mel wrote about in her post as well as someone who is much more acquainted with cancer than she would like to be.

A year ago yesterday, my coworker died of prostate cancer only one year after his diagnosis. He tried to work as long as possible, so we saw the deterioration, the brutal effects of his chemotherapy. There was a month in which he couldn’t sit down the entire day because of intense pain. We shared the highs and lows as he received a bit of good news and then bad news and then really, really bad news.

Last December, my mother was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous tumor in her breast. Thankfully, it turned out not to be cancer, but it is something she will need to have removed, and having watched her mother die of breast cancer, it weighed heavily on her mind.

Last January, my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 gastrointestinal cancer and died one month later before being able to start treatment.

And most recently, my grandmother-in-law is recovering from pancreatic cancer at age 88. This strong woman has endured 12 weeks of chemo and surgery.

And a dear friend is reeling as her father is beginning his battle after his recent diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. If you want to help raise awareness, please consider participating in her fundraiser via the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

So you know what? Cancer isn’t funny. It’s serious, and if you really want to raise awareness, donate money to the American Cancer Society or participate in a Komen walk (I did). If you really think that posting a Facebook status is going to make one bit of difference in the fight against cancer, then I urge you to read this excellent book about the history of cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies. It will spell out starkly just how far we are from having a cure for almost any type of cancer.


  1. Your post left chills down both arms. I’ve had that book on my to-read list for a while, but you just bumped it to the front of the line.

    1. Mel, it really is a great book despite being about a depressing topic. Very engrossing and enlightening. Can’t wait to see what you thought of it!

  2. Thanks for this post. My Dad is recovering from two operations on this colon: one to remove cancer and the other to deal with the failure of the first operation to seal his colon back together. He’ll need another operation soon to do another correction.

    Cancer is awful and so was THAT meme.

  3. Bravo! You managed to state quite eloquently all the reasons I had a problem with this meme. The people in my family I have lost to cancer, have beaten cancer, or are currently fighting cancer is as long as my arm. And only one (my aunt) is fighting breast cancer. It scares me that other cancers, pancreatic, colon/rectal, skin cancer, and many others are on the rise, with lower survival rates than breast cancer, but are still in the shadows. Cancer isn’t cute!

    I am buying that book. Thank you thank you thank you.

  4. I know I’m late on commenting on this, but I’m kind of catching up on your archives– and loving reading your thoughts, by the way. I 100% agree. I hate these Facebook memes with the cryptic status postings to make everyone wonder what the Hell you’re talking about while you have a good giggle. You’re absolutely right. Cancer is not cute. It’s not funny. And posting your bra color does NOTHING for the cause. My grandmother died of breast cancer, my other grandmother died of lung cancer, and my grandfathers died of colon cancer and lung cancer. One of my aunts is in remission from lymphoma. I personally have had a non-cancerous lump removed from my breast, and cancer is scary. My posting my bra color does nothing to find a cure for these diseases. Getting out and raising money by participating in the various walks, relays, golf tournaments, etc. is a better choice if you truly want to help.

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