As I consider the sea of pink I see all over the nation as we enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, I’m prompted to consider a cliché.
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”—this is a well-entrenched cliché. Like most clichés, it has a strong basis in the truth of our collective experience.
In the world of health-related advocacy, which is my world as president of the national Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), there can be a great deal of this cliché in action. “Oh, they’ve got it so easy in the ABC-disease community, and they get all the money,” say the members of the XYZ-disease community.
This sort of sentiment has always struck me as ironic. How can we say that folks “have it so much easier” when, just like us, they’re dealing with an incredibly difficult, often hard to treat, illness with life-and-death stakes?
The mobilization, action-orientation, and incredibly effective PR and communications efforts of the breast cancer community are impressive. On our bad days, we in other advocacy families may bemoan that this well-organized and strategic cadre of advocates is somehow taking what could be ours in focus or dollars. Yet I think such sentiment, even fleetingly, misses some hugely important points.
- Just because a cause is well-organized or well-funded doesn’t mean that another cause can’t be these things, too. Indeed, a strategic and organized playbook and savvy investments in PR and communications are things that all of us in health-related advocacy would do well to emulate.
- All healthcare advocacy will increasingly need to focus on concurrent prevention of illness and promotion of wellness, coupled with knowledge and tools for early detection. This is true for all categories of cancer and mood disorders.
- Rather than looking at the color of others’ lawns, we need to realize that we’re all standing on the same earth, no matter the color. That is, the struggles and opportunities in healthcare are largely connected and related. With respect to breast cancer and mood disorders (such as depression), specifically, there is growing evidence that aggressive treatment of both conditions at the same time is beneficial to outcomes related to recurrence, quality of life, and longevity.
Maybe from now on, whether our “main” advocacy ribbon is pink (breast cancer), lime green (mental health), or any other color of the ribbon rainbow, we can consider not the cliché of how green the grass is on that side of the fence, but rather focus on another cliché: “We’re all in this together.” Because, truly, we are all in this together!
Find more about the DBSA at DBSAlliance.org, including the Wellness Tracker and other resources. The organization and others are observing Mental Illness Awareness Week from Oct. 4-10, 2015.
Tomorrow: Is a breast cancer vaccine within reach?
By Tai of Allsup
This site will be the home of the “Blog-a-Thon for Breast Cancer” throughout October—Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. It is the most common cause of cancer death for Hispanic women, and the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
Given those statistics, odds are you know someone who has been impacted by breast cancer.
Despite its prevalence, there was a time when the words “breast cancer” were uttered only in hushed tones. Stigma and shame attached to them like leeches. Fortunately, today, there is a whole month dedicated to celebrating survivors, promoting prevention, and shining the spotlight on advances in treatment and survival rates.
However, there are still whispered words around the topic of breast cancer. I bet you can think of a few.
How do we talk about breast cancer in the workplace? In the bedroom? With children? How do we honor those who have passed away? Are pink ribbons symbols of hope, or have they been co-opted by marketers to sell products? Is it time to move beyond raising awareness? If so, where do we go?
Blog-a-Thon For Breast Cancer – Visit Blog.Allsup.com In October
Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides the opportunity to discuss these issues and share varied perspectives on a disease that claims more than 41,000 women and 400 men each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The idea for a “Blog-a-Thon for Breast Cancer” was born at the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s Leadership Summit. Many of the guest bloggers are community advocates from across the nation. Some are government employees. Others work for nonprofit organizations. They are survivors, mothers and friends. They are entrepreneurs. They are experts in mental health, advocacy and disability policy. They range in age, geography and experiences. And they all share the desire to improve the health and quality of life of human beings.
For the next 30 days, consider the “Blog-a-Thon for Breast Cancer” a megaphone for words that can save, change and enrich lives. If you’d like to add your voice, contact me at email@example.com.
Visit Blog.Allsup.com all month long to keep reading.
Tomorrow: Twenty years of breast cancer—A blog from a young survivor.