Saturday, November 9, 2013

You have GOT to be kidding me...


My Irish is up….

Many of you know that I am a breast cancer survivor and that my son continues to battle cancer, and has since he was 3 years old. 6 years into his battle and we still do not have a good prognosis. You also know that we buried a daughter, Miranda Grace, that died 15 hours after birth and that I had two miscarriages.

I’m reminding you of these circumstances because they play a very important role into why my Irish is up.

I just read something that left me saying, "You have GOT to be kidding me!!"  But there it is...right in front of me in print.

Cindy Hoedel, who is apparently a writer for the KC Star, just published a very insulting, hurtful, judgmental, uninformed, short-sighted, and ill-guided article in the Kansas City Star about breast cancer and the “pink” movement.  Told you my Irish was up. LOL!!

It reminded me an article that a person from the ACS wrote a couple years ago about the movement to get a bald Barbie made. You can find the article in a link I will provide at the end of this article.

To be fair, there is one point about her article that I COMPLETELY agree with, businesses are profiting by using “pink” in their packaging during the month of October. Very few dollars of anything “pink” sold by companies or in outlets are actually donated to research dollars.

I believe people are mis-informed and believe that a large percent of their purchase goes to breast cancer research groups.

It does not.

Very few of their dollars go to research. Most go to the companies who make the products or sell them.

People should be clear about that before they make their purchases, and currently, they are not.

It does seem like companies are making money off of breast cancer patients’ disease and circumstances and that is not cool.

BUT the companies who are creating a sea of pink serve a purpose beyond dollars and cents.  Their profits make a difference in a way that is just as important as research dollars.

In her article Ms. Hoedel states, “No sick woman or man….is served by putting pink dye in fountains…”

I beg to differ.

That sea of pink that is found on boxes, bags, lids, in lighting on buildings, fountains of water everywhere in the US in the month of October is recognized. People KNOW it is for breast cancer.

And even if it didn’t raise a single dollar…

It raises AWARENESS.

And AWARENESS can lead to early detection…

And early detection leads to discovering disease at a lower stage…

Which leads to more successful treatments…

Which leads to greater survivability.

That sea of pink SAVES LIVES!

I don’t have stats on how many…but even if it is was ONE life saved it's worth it.

Saving:

One mother,

One Daughter,

One Sister,

One Friend,

One…

is reason enough.

Ms. Hoedel then states, “…but my objection is based in dignity, not dollars”.

She then makes that point that “the last thing a woman who has lost her hair from chemotherapy needs is a tacky-pink hat”.

I, for one, kind of loved pink hats when I was bald. I didn’t wear a wig…

I looked tacky in wigs. ;)

So don’t tread on my pink hats…I like them!  Especially now that I have hair that goes to my shoulder blades and needs to be tucked into one when I’m working out….

She then decided to offer her opinion about two events in Kansas City that focus on bras in relation to their fundraising efforts. The Bras Across the Kaw and Art Bra KC event.

Well, she talked about several bra and breast related things that happened in the world as well. You can read for yourself but my focus was on her critique of Art Bra KC.

I know nothing about this Bras Across the Kaw Event so I won’t comment on it.

I would NEVER comment about something I hadn’t researched and understood completely.

And I certainly would not write an article for Kansas City Star about it criticizing it until I had all of the information.  Apparently, Ms. Hoedel did not do her research about Art Bra KC before she wrote the article.

She says, “No woman facing mastectomy needs to be reminded of the disfigurement by a parade of bras.”

Seriously??

Apparently, she does not know that breast cancer survivors are the models for Art Bra.

This past May, I was one of those models.

It is an event that auctions of pieces of art that are created from bras. And these are truly pieces of artwork…they are amazing.  Such beauty and creativity…absolutely incredible!

The dollars they raise are then donated to help uninsured or under-insured breast cancer patients receive needed items post-mastectomy. A pretty important thing because when you lose your breasts, your body is changed.

I know because I am a double mastectomy patient.

My breasts were cut off and thrown away, along with my nipples. After my chemotherapy, I had reconstruction and new nipples were tattooed on my chest.

I have a huge scar across the middle of each breast. I see it every single day…I can’t miss it. And I have deep scars under my arms from removal of lymphnodes.

My scars are a constant reminder, so (shockingly) a "parade of bras" really isn't key to reminding me of my own mastectomy. I'm good on my own with the walk down memory lane.

AND…I feel beautiful and like a ninja warrior princess because of those scars.

My scars are a visible reminder to me that I kicked cancer’s ass.

Obviously, Ms. Hoedel does not understand that.  

I also take EXTREME offense to Ms. Hoedel telling me I’m “disfigured”.

I am NOT disfigured and...

HOW DARE YOU CALL ME THAT!!!

I am more than my “modified” breasts.

I am unique.

I am intelligent.

I am a mother.

I am a daughter.

I am a friend.

I am strong.

And I am angry and offended that she would be so thoughtless in labeling me and my breast cancer sisters as “disfigured”.

My breasts are BEAUTIFUL…they stand up straight and tall and are perfectly rounded.

I don’t have to wear a bra and they still stand up straight and beautiful. 

They were not like this in their previous state.

I love my new breasts, thank you!!

Shame on Ms. Hoedel for assuming that I should be ashamed of them…

And more importantly that I am only my breasts….

I am more.

I am who I am…scars and all.

Now when I signed up to be a model for Art Bra, I was nervous about doing it. I met with the organizers before I said yes to make sure that I wasn’t going to have to reveal more of myself than I cared to…they were extremely understanding and compassionate.

They told me that I could help design the bra and everything I wanted to have covered would be covered. 

And it was.

And as I walked down that runway, modeling a bra that honored my son and all of his childhood cancer friends…

I was PROUD.

cANCER was powerless…

And I WAS POWERFUL!

I was whole again.

And the world got to see my strength…

And joy…

And those that loved me were there celebrating with me, just as proud, strong, and joyous.

It was an EXTREMELY empowering moment.

How very short-sighted and mis-guided for Ms. Hoedel to assume it was demeaning and demoralizing.

It was the exact opposite.

The last point she made really struck me as well…

She said, “Sadly, no one can accuse me of being insensitive to breast cancer victims because like everyone in the world, I have lost friends and relatives to the disease.”

Well I'm here to accuse her of just that.

Sadly, she has been EXTREMELY insensitive and demeaning.

And for the record, I'm not a victim...cANCER does NOT define me nor does it weaken me.

I am STRONGER than cANCER!

And happily, she has apparently not walked in my shoes as a breast cancer patient herself.

So why in the world she would think she could assume to be able to feel what I have felt.

What any woman whose breasts were thrown in the trash…along with her nipples has felt.

It is EXTREMELY insulting for her to assume she "understands".

I lost two babies to a miscarriage, our daughter died in my arms, my son has faced numerous times that oncologists have told us to say goodbye because “this is it”…

Yet I cannot even begin to comprehend and understand the grief my fellow mothers who have lost their children to cancer feel.

I don’t know because I haven’t walked a mile in those shoes.

It is their journey and each and every one of those mothers does not want me to be in their club and feel what they feel.

It is presumptive…it is ridiculous…and it is wrong to assume I could ever “get it”.

I can empathize with those mothers,

I can hold my friends while they cry,

But I cannot know how they feel.

I can fight to bring as much awareness to childhood cancer as has been brought to breast cancer so we have equal awareness and research for our extremely overlooked and under-funded children…

But I CANNOT say I have walked their path.

Ms. Hoedel’s article was very hurtful, very ill-thought, extremely insulting, lacked research, and was just plain mean.

It lacks compassion, vision, and an understanding of the Art Bra KC event.

She owes all breast cancer survivors, patients, and their families an apology.

She owes a retraction and apology to Art Bra KC.


And if you would be so gracious as to leave her a comment as well, it would be wonderful.  You may side with her views and that’s okay too…freedom of thought and speech and I respect that.

And please, please share this with others so they can read it as well.  

Art Bra KC does not deserve this “punch in the gut”…they deserve our thanks and applause.

Thank you everyone!