Last April I was asked to fill in for the office manager of the radiation oncology department at our hospital (the place one goes for radiation treatments after a cancer diagnosis). You may recall, I went back to work from January through September of last year, and the six weeks I spent in radiation oncology were probably my favorite.
I think it's possible that the experience I had with those particular patients is what has influenced my opinion on a topic that I already had an opinion about, it just emphasized my feelings.
I saw people who had already been coming in for treatments, who seemed to have hit their stride, and who may have been past the scared stage. But I also saw new patients, the ones who had fear in their eyes, the ones who just wanted to know that everything would be ok.
Even though there's no way of knowing if it would really be ok. Knowing in that exact location my grandpa was told he had six months to live on a Friday...and died the next day...cancer is a scary thing.
And when women would come in with breast cancer, I can tell you that they were not thinking of how they could "Save Second Base"...
This is where my opinion on so-called breast cancer awareness kicks in.
There was probably a time in my life when the phrases like "I Love Boobies" and "Save the TaTas" and "Save Second Base" just made me roll my eyes. I wasn't necessarily offended, but I wasn't rushing out to buy the shirts either. There was never a time in my life when I thought that really helped educate women on a type of cancer that one in eight of us will get in our lifetime.
And I think my own biopsy experience in 2009 probably shaped my opinion as well.
Does "Save the TaTas" teach you about BSE's (Breast Self Exams)? Does "I Love Boobies" help men know how to be emotionally supportive to the woman in his life when she's diagnosed? When your mom is diagnosed, are you hoping she "Saves Second Base"?
I know it's supposed to be lighthearted. I know there are women who wear them because they think it's cute. Shoot, there are probably even breast cancer survivors who wear them. I know we all have our opinions, but for me, it's just a gimmick and a money maker, not really something that teaches us anything or promotes women's health. If anything, it objectifies us, making a breast cancer diagnosis nothing more than a downer for men hoping that her breasts are saved for his own sake.
And what if they can't be saved? Have you seen a woman who's had a double mastectomy? I wonder how she feels about these t-shirts. Her life has been saved, but she struggles with feeling like a woman because her breasts are gone. These kinds of shirts can't possibly help considering their message is clear: save the breasts...it's the most important thing.
The message should be SAVE THE WOMAN. She is my mom. My sister. My aunt. My grandma. My daughter. My cousin. My best friend.
I know this post won't change the world. The few who read it will either agree or disagree. But I do hope you'll consider what message those shirts are sending.
What message does it send to men?
What message does it send to women?
And maybe more importantly...what message does it send to children, especially little girls?
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