Friday, March 16, 2012

Save Second Base

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'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?


Ashley said...

Amen, Amen, Amen! I could not agree more with this post! I really don't like those shirts / bracelets, etc. Why don't you create your own "line" of supportive shirts to raise awareness with positive messages about what's really important?

Shelley said...

Awesome post! I too don't care for the shirts they sell yes its just a money maker. I have a friend who went thru breast cancer and had a masectomey years ago and now one of my best friends her mom is going thru her second round of breast cancer. Its an eye opening experience and I always thought I would like to work in a place that dealt with cancer patients.
If I ever saw a shirt saying save the woman or save my mom friend etc I would buy one in a heartbeat!

Jo said...

Well said, Chrissy! Saving the woman is so much more important than anything else.

Eyreka said...

I couldn't have said it better myself and I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking it.

Marie said...

I absolutely cannot stand those shirts... for this very reason. Cancer isn't cute or funny and these shirts make light of a very scary and trying and serious disease.

Andrea said...

I don't personally mind the phrases you used, as I look at it as find a cure. Save all women from ever losing any part of their breast. But now that you make your point, I can see that some don't get that message, and may sport the phrases for the wrong reason. Either way, cried through the whole post. Well written.

thechattymommy said...

I am definitely supportive of breast cancer awareness. But I think it is crude when teenage boys and girls are wearing "I love boobies" bracelets.
If a grown woman my age was wearing one, I might ask her about it and gain a knowledge of something that is important to her.
But when it is teens, it just looks like something they are laughing about.

Causey Fam said...

Well said!

Suzan said...

Amen! As a mom of both boys and girls I hate how they objectify women! I don't see "save the erections" shirts about prostate cancer or "save the boys" for testicular cancer. So why is it ok to make breast cancer about the boobs? It makes me sick.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a functional Thyroid and only have one ovary because of cancer. If someone made a shirt about thyroid cancer that said save the dress size or ovarian cancer that said save the libido. I think people would be pissed but save second base flies off the shelf! It's just wrong if you ask me!

Anonymous said...

Chrissy, this is such an outstanding post. I'm so glad you are writing again and letting us rethink when we at times just assume "it is ok" when possibly it isn't. Love reading your comments..this one is a cut above! love you! MOM

Anonymous said...

Oh girl, you already know how I feel about this-so all I will say is WELL SAID!!! I don't even think that "anger" is a proper word to use when I see one of these dumb shirts/bracelets/etc-I literally want to scream!!

Thanks for the post, very well said!!

Anonymous said...

Oh girl, you already know how I feel about this-so all I will say is WELL SAID!!! I don't even think that "anger" is a proper word to use when I see one of these dumb shirts/bracelets/etc-I literally want to scream!!

Thanks for the post, very well said!!

Sandy said...

I feel very much the same way! After being diagnosed with breast cancer this past August, the last thing on my mind (and my hubby's mind) was saving my breasts. My first thought, I need to stay alive for my kids! Without me, there is no need for my breasts. Although my doctors were able to save my breasts, that was not a priority for me.

I do however, proudly wear a shirt given to me by a dear friend that says "Fight like a girl!" and that, I am proud to say, is just what I am doing! :)

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