I feel like the poster child for this month (self-appointed.) Since this whole journey with breast cancer began, I have had SO many women come up to me and tell me they also had/have breast cancer. Some women I have known for a long time, and I did not know. Also, looking around, I know/knew women who went through it and I rarely saw them in public during their treatment. Pink ribbons are on cars and around Town in Oct. to bring awareness for breast cancer. But the single most effective awareness campaign would be if ALL women who wore prosthetic breasts, wigs, scarves, or hats, took them off for one day! If we are to not feel ashamed, why are 99.9% of the women hiding? Perhaps because we are told women’s hair (and looks) are all important. We identify with our sexuality with having breasts and a “good figure”. Why are people staring, too long, at me when I dare to go hatless (and wig-less)? Losing one’s hair is one of the hardest days of cancer treatment, most women tell me. Why are women with double mastectomies wearing uncomfortable weight-y bras filled with silicone gel every day?
One woman told me her she didn’t want to frighten her grandson, so she wore a wig around him, at HIS request. Can’t we teach our future men that we women should not be embarrassed by a lack of head hair? That we are still the person they knew? Another woman said that some women hide their cancer from their friends and co-workers for fear of being let go from their job. Well, first, they won’t be the women who will support Breast Cancer Awareness anyhow. And secondly, if it was clearly known she had breast cancer and was let go for that, I think it would be a cause for a lawsuit. At the chemo clinic at Hopkins, ALL the dozens of women wore hats or wigs. AND they all knew everyone else there was a cancer patient!
Are we still in the age I remember from 50 years ago when people whispered the “C” word? Breast Cancer Awareness month will remain as just a bunch of pink ribbons until women can come out of the closet and say they are still women just battling a tough disease. Except for being cold, I don’t plan to wear hats anymore. I still don’t like the staring, and strangers hugging me (and violating my personal space), and friends crying when they see me. But I think women need to do this.
(Final note: My surgery is healing well now. Swelling almost all gone. Looks pretty smooth and good.)