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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Shouldn't we all join together to advocate for MBC?

But what, I hear you say, does MBC actually stand for.  For me it is Metastatic Breast Cancer but recently I have seen this acronym used to mean Male Breast Cancer.  I did a bit more thinking ... turned the heat down before I boiled over ... and began to come to the conclusion that we should be advocating together.  We are the breast cancer groups that the mainly Pink charities choose to ignore.  But why?

In the case of Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC1) it is because we are an inconvenient Truth that doesn't fit marketing strategies.  As for Male Breast Cancer (MBC2) it is because breast cancer as a whole has become equated with Pink ... Feminine ... Boobs.  STOP!  Rewind!  Men have breasts as well don't they, just like we both have skin, livers, stomachs, bones, bowels ... you get the drift.  The statistical fact that men make up a much smaller part of the numbers of people with BC doesn't mean that they don't exist.  It doesn't mean that they aren't an equally important part of the equation. 

When the talk is about Survivors and Life After Breast Cancer, men fall into both categories.  Unfortunately because so many men down realise that they too can have breast cancer, they fall into the categories of Metastatic and Treatment Until Death far to often.  The first two categories are justifiably celebrated.  There is not a single person with MNC1 who wants even one more member of our 'Gang'.  For all the right reasons we don't want them to know what incurable cancer feels like; we want them to be able to move on and savour Life After Breast Cancer.  However, those in the first two categories should not shun those in the Incurable and Treatment Until Death sections.  They must learn to accept us and our journey, just as we celebrate theirs.

Breast Cancer is an equal opportunity disease.  It doesn't care about your gender, age, race, ethnicity, background, education, sexual orientation or religion, or any of those other 'labels' that humans can be filed under.  It will take anyone who gets in its way, but if you are lucky to have successful treatment in the early stages you have a good chance of being able to leave it by the wayside as you move on. 

But those labels - boy, can they stick; and not just with the general public, but also with the medical profession who seem to want to pigeon-hole breast cancer as a disease of those over 50, who smoke and are overweight.  I put my hand up to the overweight issue, but I have never smoked, had a very active job as a cleaner in a College, and I could possibly have been diagnosed when I was 42, and was finally diagnoses as Early Stage, and a few month later as Metastatic, when I was 47 years old.  It is almost as though you can't have breast cancer unless you tick certain boxes, and yet so many women that I have known have been younger than me, thinner than me, exercised more than me and did innumerable other things 'right' and still have lost their lives to this disease.  Breast feeding helps prevent ... wait a minute what about the woman who had breast-fed 8 children ... how many is the right number?  More than 4 but less that 6?  Pish-tosh. 

So why can't we all join forces and try and make it out into the sun and the flash-lights of the Pink Carpet along with the survivors and those living after cancer treatment?  MMBC?  Men and Mets Breast Cancer anyone?

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