Breast Cancer: We Are One

September 30, 2016 at 7:54 am  •  3 Comments

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A male breast cancer survivor discovers the power of pink.

October is making her annual emergence upon a world in need of hope and healing.

I imagine October to be a resplendent and majestic woman, dancing on the winds of autumn, encircling all beings on Earth and offering promise and possibilities to those who carry a life-threatening disease. But October is no fairy tale to be taken lightly, for this is the month we champion breast cancer awareness. October you see is a month of collaboration and partnership, reminding every woman that breast cancer is a formidable adversary that can only be disarmed through a fearless alliance; through vigilance and education and of course, knowledge and understanding.

So what about men? We get breast cancer too.

I was once asked if I was troubled by the cloak of pink that surrounds the breast cancer experience.

My answer was an emphatic “no”. After all, it’s no fault of women that male breast cancer goes relatively unnoticed because it is an orphan disease accounting for just 1% of all breast cancer cases. And it’s no one’s fault that men are reluctant to talk about their breast cancer, slow to get diagnosed and more likely to die from it because of our belated behaviors and awkward attitudes toward our breasts.

I think it would be a grave mistake for men to allow themselves to feel isolated this month, simply because pink may not be our color of choice. It’s not that we haven’t been invited. Minorities I believe are never overlooked because they are small. They’re excluded only if they remain silent.

So as men we need to raise our voices, not to complain of an over-abundance of pinkness, but to shout out in celebration with the millions of women who make up the 99% of breast cancer survivors.

My hope is that our 1% can prosper and grow in unison with a coalition of women survivors who have set the stage and manned the front lines to eradicate this most dreadful disease.

As a man with breast cancer I believe that, like the women of the world, guys need to join hands, puff up our chests (what’s left of them at any rate) and stand together in October to bring encouragement and comradery to our breast cancer brothers. And sisters.

Pink is not a belief or a method. It’s not a condition. It’s a symbolic emblem of a powerful feminine coalition. And male breast cancer survivors don’t need a pink pass to join in with this celebration of life and longevity which after all is the ultimate goal of cancer survivors around the world, both men and women.

October is a time of joyful expression. It’s a time to support and care for those millions who share our disease world-wide. Faces and lives we will never see, but whose stories we know intimately because they are our own. I am. I am me. I am we. We are one.

3 Comments

  1. Rod / September 30, 2016 at 9:00 pm /Reply

    After all these years of pinktobers I’m stilling talking to men who didn’t they could get this disease. I’ll be joining the celebrations when a patch of blue is visible on the plethora of pink. Let people say, WTF, men get it too? Save men from late diagnoses and poorer prognoses, raise awareness of all who get breast cancer.

    • Khevin / October 3, 2016 at 4:06 pm /Reply

      Hi Rod,
      Thanks for your thoughtful message. Yes, I agree that many in the U.S. (I don’t know about other countries) are PINKWASHED to the max. My hope is that, despite the over commercialization and under sharing of funding and research for the men, we can still acknowledge the millions of women (I speak of survivors here and not organizations) who DO feel some hope and support from this kinship of women who congregate in October. I can’t fault anyone for trying to improve their lives through whatever means works for them—pink or blue.
      My essay really boils down to what I said here:
      “Pink is not a belief or a method. It’s not a condition. It’s a symbolic emblem of a powerful feminine coalition. And male breast cancer survivors don’t need a pink pass to join in with this celebration of life and longevity”
      I don’t believe we should ever be put off by someone else’s idea of health and healing.

  2. Anti-Cancer Club
    Anti-Cancer Club / October 1, 2016 at 5:34 am /Reply

    I think that male breast cancer groups are making significant inroads here. It will take a continued effort by groups such as the Male Breast Cancer Coalition (http://malebreastcancercoalition.org) ; by people such as Oliver Bogler, PhD (see his comments under #AlllThingsCancer Replays) and people like yourself who speak out and try to educate the population.

    I personally will pass on Pinktober. I find the pinkification of a horrific disease appalling. Little to no money goes to metastatic breast cancer research; disease in men has traditionally been ignored. Of enormous importance, and totally overlooked, is the fact that genetically determined susceptibility to breast cancer in MEN AND WOMEN is undiscussed. This is an issue that impacts everyone , their children and grandchildren. Wake up everyone! This touches all of us!

    Breast cancer is a horrible disease. It destroys peoples lives and ultimately it destroys people. I don’t see anything pretty or pink; male or female. I just see a lot of wonderful people living with a death sentence, and suffering horribly along the way. No races or pretty pink for me.

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