Monday, 29 October 2012

Positive (and negative) Pink

As Pink October draws to a close for another year, I head into my anniversary season and the reflections this brings.  It was four years ago today that I learned that almost certainly I had breast cancer and this was duly confirmed a week later. On a happier note, this blog had its second birthday on 20th October.

Dealing with a diagnosis of and treatment for breast cancer is a very personal thing and people deal with it in different ways. I suspect that who we are, our approach to and experiences in life and how we experienced and got through diagnosis and treatment also affects our approach to Pink October.  And this includes where we live - see a recent blog post by my friend the Feisty Blue Gecko

The same day on which I learned the sad news that Bernie Nolan has found out that the cancer has recurred and spread my Facebook timeline carried what I deem to be this year's most tacky Pink event/product - the £1 Tickled Pink Bingo Dabber.  I have spoken and written before about how I believe it is totally inappropriate for a breast cancer campaign to be named "tickled pink" and this is underlined when hearing of yet another person diagnosed with metastatic disease and who presumably was not tickled pink to hear the news.

My own take on socio-political issues means that I'm not someone who believes that the end necessarily justifies the means. Tacky and inappropriate is not sanitised merely by being associated with fund and/or awareness raising. Moreover there is no need to sink to this in order to have some fun while raising awareness and funds.

This year I went along to an event held by Europa Donna Malta for Breast Health Day. I arrived towards the end of the event but it was a day filled with fun activities including sessions of pilates and zumba together with demos of fencing and other sports. Alongside was an information display, literature to take away, opportunities to talk and the Guides assisted with fundraising.  There was an atmosphere of fun as well as the serious information giving and while I was there two young men on a balcony overlooking the square were dancing to the zumba music and applauding with enthusiasm.

I'd be far more enthusiastic about Pink October if more events were along the lines of this one than encouraging people to dress up in pink wigs or to attend tickled pink bingo.

So it is with some relief that I leave behind October and head towards the NCRI Conference in early November to hear of the research that is being done into all cancers, and which this year includes sessions on cancer in the developing world and improvements in palliative care.  For me, this is a much more encouraging type event to form the backdrop against which to head into my season of appointments, tests and results than all the October hype, although I will retain the fun of Breast Health Day in Valletta as an example of Positive Pink.