Those of you on facebook probably know about the chain letter that spread like wildfire this week, asking women to post the color of their bras as a facebook status to spread breast cancer awareness. Millions of women played along. Even caught the attention of CNN.
At least one company and breast cancer organization figured out how to benefit. Living Beyond Breast Cancer made an arrangement to receive $1 for every member that became a fan of White House/Black Market and posted their bra color on the store fan page.
Bloggers have been weighing in. One wrote that she participated but had second thoughts. Another particularly poignant one was from a woman who owned no bras and felt left out. Both of her breasts had been removed because of inflammatory breast cancer.
The reaction from advocates has been mixed. Some tentatively played along. Others announced it was frivolous. Some were told to lighten up.
To me, it’s another example of what is wrong with how we are approaching the problem of breast cancer. Publicity for no other disease would be flirtatious or so silly. Think about it. What if to spread the word about diabetes people said “Save the feet!” and asked people to secretly post the color of their socks on facebook. It would never happen, and if it did, it would be seen as incredibly insensitive. Breast cancer is a horrid, ugly disease, but somehow, this powerful association has been created of things pretty, pink, inspirational, sexy, and sometimes silly.
But the incredible spread of this facebook chain or meme speaks to how much women care. Women DO care about breast cancer and they want CHANGE. Sure, some wanted to be part of the group, some wanted to be titillating to the men on their friend list, but mainly I believe that most played along because they do care about breast cancer.
Women want to stop hearing that friends or family members develop the disease. Women want to stop worrying that they too will develop the disease, or that their daughters will. Women want treatments developed that won’t be so harsh as the current, and that will work, preventing the disease from spreading and taking lives.
How to translate all of that energy and passion into action and progress? The first step is simply to take awareness up a notch. Let’s become aware of the reality of breast cancer. Learn that breast cancer is really several diseases. That breast cancer is often different in younger women and older women. That many of our preconceived notions aren’t true. To learn more about the realities, click here.
And to really crank it up a notch, come to the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund’s Annual Advocacy Training Conference in May. For more information or to register, click here.