You’ve probably seen the breast cancer “awareness” meme on Facebook recently. An email went around to the tune of “let’s show those guys how strong we are!” and instructed women to put the location of where they like to set their purse as their status, with no further information.
The result? Sexual innuendoes plastered across Facebook, but no mention of breast cancer at all.
Yah, that’s really showing all those guys how strong we are. Instead of doing something of substance, let’s just tee-hee about how we wrote “I like it on the floor by the back door” and made all those guys think we were talking about being sexually adventurous.
I’ll be blunt. I think memes like that are stupid and degrading. Breast cancer isn’t a joke. It’s not sexual. It’s deadly. I doubt there is a woman alive who isn’t aware that breast cancer exists. There is NO need for “breast cancer awareness.” What we DO need is education about prevention. We DO need affordable medical care. We DO need access to fresh fruits and vegetables (you might be surprised how many people in the urban US don’t live within reasonable distance of a grocery store). We DO need money for research and programs that support families dealing with cancer.
This month is breast cancer awareness month. If you REALLY want to make a difference in cancer, please consider what I’m about to tell you.
I recently became aware of a woman who lives near me named Sanjana. I do not know Sanjana personally; her family or friends left flyers about her on every door in our apartment complex. She’s a teacher and mother to young twins, and she’s dying from a rare type of blood cancer called Multiple Myeloma.
A stem cell transplant could save her life, if she had an eligible bone marrow donor donor. Unfortunately, she’s South Asian and so few of them are registered with the Be The Match registry (formally the NMDP registry) that the chance of her finding a donor is only 1%. In fact, it’s difficult for any ethnic minority (read: non-White) to find a donor. The community is doing everything they can to register more South Asians in the hopes of finding a match.
So, if you want to take a public stand against cancer this month, consider signing up to be a bone marrow donor. Donate your Facebook status to telling people about the Be the Match registry and Sanjana. Encourage your friends to join you in spreading the word about bone marrow donation.
I’ve been involved with raising money for and awareness of the registry since I was 14 years old. I know there are a lot of myths about donation, so I’ll take a moment to dispel a few. First, it’s quick and easy to register. Go here to request a kit: you’ll need to take a swab from the inside of your cheek & answer some general health questions. That’s it. There is a fee associated with joining the registry, but a lot of people donate to help offset this fee and the registry isn’t going to turn down a would-be donor because of an inability to pay. If you pass the qualifications, all you do is wait to be matched. This could happen right away or take years and years. You won’t be responsible for any medical costs associated with donating, and most donations do not require surgery. Joining the registry does not bind you to anything. Even if you’re matched, you don’t have to go through with the donation if you change your mind.
Please: decide to make a REAL change to the face of cancer and become a part of the Be the Match bone marrow donor registry.