I’m a Breast Cancer Survivor & #NoBraDay Has Nothing to Do With Me

pink ribbon on keyboardToday is #NoBraDay, the latest gimmick in a string of breast cancer awareness campaigns that were clearly cooked up by someone who has never had breast cancer. While there's no question billions of women walking about braless today will get attention, I doubt it will garner much in the way of breast cancer awareness.


As a breast cancer survivor who has had a double mastectomy and no reconstruction, I'm betting my equivalent to #NoBraDay (let's call it #MastectomyScarDay) would probably do more good.

I don't wear a bra. Ever. A fact that, most of the time, I don't give a second thought to. Which is not to say I forget all about it, because every day I face a pair of serious scars where my breasts used to be.

To be fair, breast cancer was not even on my radar when I was in my 20s. I did monthly self exams, but because breast cancer doesn't run in my family (and no one I knew had ever had it), I never paid much attention to it. That all changed when I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer at age 30.

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However, 14 years ago, breast cancer awareness wasn't what it is today. Especially now in the month of October, when every NFL player is wearing pink gloves and shoes, there are community walks to support breast cancer charities, and pink ribbons and other pink paraphernalia are for sale practically everywhere you turn.

In short, unless you’re living under a rock, at least during the month of October, breast cancer is likely on your mind. So what's a breast cancer survivor to make of all these "Pinktober" activities?

The walks, I get. They raise money (at least in theory) to find a cure. The merchandise, ditto -- often a percentage of the pink paraphernalia is donated to charity, which is great (of course, the bigger the percentage, the better). The pink NFL gear I could take or leave -- is a person who sees pink gloves while watching a football game really thinking about his or her wife's / girlfriend's / sister's / aunt's / mom's / friend's breasts? Maybe, maybe not.

But back to those Facebook status updates ... writing the color of your bra, the #NoBraDay, #ShowYourStrap campaigns. Those are pointless. For the women playing the "game," awareness is moot. For everyone else, #NoBraDay doesn’t exactly scream breast cancer awareness, and it's likely not the first thing one thinks about when confronted with braless women.

But me? I'll be thinking about how insulting it is to turn my battle against breast cancer into a Facebook game or trending hashtag.

I propose those who wish to spread breast cancer awareness do something meaningful.

Donate to a charity that will do some good. Volunteer to sit with a breast cancer patient while she's getting chemo, or offer to drive her to and from appointments. Talk about breast cancer in a way that doesn't make light of it. Think about how you'd feel after a double mastectomy, six months of grueling chemotherapy, and a month and a half of radiation. Do something besides participating in a Facebook status game. Unless, of course, your goal is not to raise breast cancer awareness but to irritate breast cancer survivors.


Image via hidesy/iStock

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