breast cancer

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.