20 May 2010

The United Colors of Cancer

Until I was diagnosed with cancer, I'd always associated color pink with cancer. There was a time of year when pink surfaced everywhere, it seemed. Yoplait would start its pink cup covers drive and I diligently collected my Yoplait tops and sent them in so that donations may be made for cancer. Little pink tents would pop up at stores everywhere asking for donations to cancer. I contributed to several girlfriends' efforts for the Avon Walk and the Race for the Cure, all that while thinking "[the color] pink = cancer." It is a credit to those who have worked so hard to further breast cancer awareness and research that pink has generally become the trigger color for cancer awareness for most people who are uneducated about it. Breast cancer awareness has opened eyes and hearts everywhere to the awful existence and effects of cancer. And it is absolutely impressive, the breadth that breast cancer awareness has reached. I never would have thought I'd see the day when big, manly NFL players would wear something pink on game day to raise breast cancer awareness. Such a manly gesture for a feminine problem. In my humble opinion, our common psyche has equated the color pink to cancer awareness.

Last week, while my my daughter and I were watching TV a new Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial came on. It featured several people holding pink buckets of chicken. One woman said, "I'm doing it for my sister;" a man declared "I'm doing it for my wife;" and a little boy ended the commercial saying "I'm doing it for my mom." Afterwards, the male announcer declared that KFC was donating a portion of their chicken sales to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The commercial ended with an announcement that the fried chicken purveyor was donating a portion of it's chicken sales to the Susan G. Comen Foundation. At which time, my daugher turned to me and said "Well, I'm going to get a bucket and wrap it in teal and say 'I'm doing this for my mom.'" It took a few seconds for that to register. So much so that my daughter saw the puzzled look on my face. To which she addressed "Mom! Teal is the color for ovarian cancer!" Duh! But of course! How could I have missed that? Easy! To this day, I still equate cancer awareness with the color pink. So, I wasn't I wasn't thinking teal chicken buckets at all, even though I've been dubbed a "teal warrior" for having survived ovarian cancer.

But, because I am now an ovarian cancer survivor, should I shed pink for teal and put my efforts toward ovarian cancer research instead of my tiny donations and efforts towards breast cancer awareness and research? Do I owe that to my "tribe" now? It seems as though there's a prevailing sense that one should be loyal to one's "tribe" and advance research and awareness for their sort of cancer. And rightfully so! I wouldn't want to inflict ovarian cancer on anyone. So yes! I want a cure for it and am keenly aware that my efforts and donations will help that cause. But, ideally, what I really want and wish for is equal funding for all types of cancer and not just ovarian cancer (just because that's the cancer from which I'm in remission). I want everyone to have a fair shake at cancer research and awareness, no matter how obscure the cancer.

I wish there were a United Nations for cancer -- each cancer represented, but a united front to eradicate the disease altogether. While I understand and appreciate that each cancer behaves differently, I am also aware that financial backing or publicity and coverage for certain cancer research is not as abundant as that breast cancer or prostate cancer, for example. I just wish that each of the other cancers represented by the ribbons above had the same backing and support -- the same resources like Susan G. Comen Foundation for breast cancer research and awareness. If everyone pooled resources together and cross-referenced each other's work, then I believe there's strength in numbers and unity of purpose. -- much like that of Stand Up To Cancer's mission statement:

". . .to accelerate groundbreaking cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives. SU2C's goal is to bring together the best and the brightest in the cancer community, encouraging collaboration instead of competition. By galvanizing the entertainment industry, SU2C creates awareness and builds broad public support for this effort. This is where the end of cancer begins."

Kudos to organizations like this and the American Cancer Society! There is strength in numbers, certainly. And I believe in that. I do stand in steadfast support for my sisters who have been affected by breast cancer and ovarian cancer. But, I am equally hopeful and supportive for all my brethren who have been affected by cancer -- whatever kind or color it is. It may sound naive, but in this case, cancer is cancer and together, we must eradicate it -- all of it.

(Does this make me a cancer socialist?)


WhiteStone said...

I'm with you! Cancer is ugly, no matter what kind. My heart goes out to all who are dealing with it. Mine is ovarian, but I figure research that kicks one cancer may somehow be helpful to kicking other cancers as well. Go, Researchers, Go!!!

Jill said...

You are definitely right about Cancer. No matter what type we have it is all Cancer and we need to find a cure.My daughter works at our local Cancer Center where we have a research center in there as well and these people are working so hard to find a cure.Unfortunately for some of us it is to late but there is always hope.

Karen said...

Amen! to the above comments. There's always hope ... and faith. Always.

Thanks for sharing, ce_squared.

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