A Man’s take on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer isn’t really a term that men face with horror and derision (lest it affects someone around us). But there’s such a deluge of information on the topic, and it’s not only during October. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1,910 men were diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year.

Op Ed

I, myself have cancer, and would also like to point out that May marks Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Somehow, though, the gray ribbons don’t catch on as well as pink ones. I guess gray just kinda blends in more.

While I’m all for cancer awareness in general, the campaigns I see are very otherizing for men. The ads for breast cancer depict only women licking lids of yogurt, and everything must come in pink, a color not indicative of a straight male. Do I like pink? Sure, as an accent color and as a concept, but will I wear a pink leisure suit for charity? Doubtful. Do the pink commercials really attract the “awareness” of men to male breast cancer?
This disconnect in the campaign does two things: It alienates men who would like to contribute; but there are few depictions of men making a difference in the holy crusade-like “Fight Against Breast Cancer.” Then it leaves them in the mis-painted (still pink?) corner of never being victimized by this sort of cancer.
In most campaigns, breast cancer is indicated solely as a woman’s disease. And only women can do something about it. Women’s products provide a donation to Susan G. Komen Foundation for a cure. And if it’s more of a unisex product (binders, office gear, clothing, etc), very few guys will pick up the pink binder for their academic or organizational needs. How can we the men, help? I’ve participated in several Race for the Cureâ„¢  walks in Phoenix, but there’s little in the way of day-to-day help that I can do without engaging  more of my time or going out of my way, except the small piece of satisfaction in seeing a local pizza company gives out pink boxes.
Worse still, however, is the thought that breast cancer never affects men. The cultural definition of “be a man”  has a guy put off medical exams, hoping it’ll all go away in the morning. Weird lump? Meh, it’ll go away. I fell into the same trap, putting off the pressure on my eyes and the constant headaches as me not drinking enough water. Depression I took as a by-product of unemployment. After having a seizure, one hospital trip showed me a tumor in my brain the size of a beefsteak tomato. What are the male symptoms of  breast cancer? Do we, as in the majority of a society, know? Are there pamphlets? While only 1/100 of all breast cancer cases occur in men, isn’t it possible that those men without a “positive outcome” (medical stat jargon for lived) could be saved, too, if only they had known? Is 1/100 an “acceptable” loss? Breast cancer effects breasts; those of the male, female, white, black, latino, middle aged, elderly”¦ While it is true it does not strike equally, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers can develop breast cancer.
In summary, our culture creates fetishisms for specific parts of the human anatomy. Campaigns often are all about saving the sexy parts of people rather than saving the men and women attached to those parts. Must there be some titillation about the organs in question before we pay attention? Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Cervical Cancer, all easily treatable at early stages. But more and more money is funneled into research and publicity for the “sexy” types of cancers than any other. How do I know all this? You’ve heard of Susan G. Komen, of Lance Armstrong (Testicular cancer). You’ve heard of Guardasil. How about Temozolomide? David M. Bailey? No?
How about research into Bone Cancers, Pancreatic Cancers, Renal Cancer? If there are cells reproducing in the body, a cancer will exist for it. I’m all for publicity, but if few in the medical profession can even tell the difference between a depressed guy and one with a monster tumor crushing his brain, maybe some awareness and research would help there, too. And if 1/100 cases of breast cancer are men then let’s raise some awareness on how to do male breast self exams and the symptoms of cancer so men can catch it and fight it in the early stages too. Maybe we could focus a little less on the “Save the ta ta’s ” and throwing pink ribbons everywhere and a little more on researching, donating locally to all types of cancer groups, and spreading the awareness of how to save lives of all cancer patients”¦
“¦ not just the sexy ones.

Breast Cancer isn’t really a term that men face with horror and derision (lest it affects someone around us). But there’s such a deluge of information on the topic, and it’s not only during October. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1,910 men were diagnosed with Breast Cancer last year. I, myself have cancer, and would also like to point out that May marks Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Somehow, though, the gray ribbons don’t catch on as well as pink ones. I guess gray just kinda blends in more. While I’m all for cancer awareness in general, the campaigns I see are very otherizing for men. The ads for breast cancer depict only women licking lids of yogurt, and everything must come in pink, a color not indicative of a straight male. Do I like pink? Sure, as an accent color and as a concept, but will I wear a pink leisure suit for charity? Doubtful. Do the pink commercials really attract the “awareness” of men to male breast cancer? This disconnect in the campaign does two things: It alienates men who would like to contribute; but there are few depictions of men making a difference in the holy crusade-like “Fight Against Breast Cancer.” Then it leaves them in the mis-painted (still pink?) corner of never being victimized by this sort of cancer. In most campaigns, breast cancer is indicated solely as a woman’s disease. And only women can do something about it. Women’s products provide a donation to Susan G. Komen Foundation for a cure. And if it’s more of a unisex product (binders, office gear, clothing, etc), very few guys will pick up the pink binder for their academic or organizational needs. How can we the men, help? I’ve participated in several Race for the Cureâ„¢  walks in Phoenix, but there’s little in the way of day-to-day help that I can do without engaging  more of my time or going out of my way, except the small piece of satisfaction in seeing a local pizza company gives out pink boxes. Worse still, however, is the thought that breast cancer never affects men. The cultural definition of “be a man”  has a guy put off medical exams, hoping it’ll all go away in the morning. Weird lump? Meh, it’ll go away. I fell into the same trap, putting off the pressure on my eyes and the constant headaches as me not drinking enough water. Depression I took as a by-product of unemployment. After having a seizure, one hospital trip showed me a tumor in my brain the size of a beefsteak tomato. What are the male symptoms of  breast cancer? Do we, as in the majority of a society, know? Are there pamphlets? While only 1/100 of all breast cancer cases occur in men, isn’t it possible that those men without a “positive outcome” (medical stat jargon for lived) could be saved, too, if only they had known? Is 1/100 an “acceptable” loss? Breast cancer effects breasts; those of the male, female, white, black, latino, middle aged, elderly”¦ While it is true it does not strike equally, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers can develop breast cancer.  In summary, our culture creates fetishisms for specific parts of the human anatomy. Campaigns often are all about saving the sexy parts of people rather than saving the men and women attached to those parts. Must there be some titillation about the organs in question before we pay attention? Breast Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Cervical Cancer, all easily treatable at early stages. But more and more money is funneled into research and publicity for the “sexy” types of cancers than any other. How do I know all this? You’ve heard of Susan G. Komen, of Lance Armstrong (Testicular cancer). You’ve heard of Guardasil. How about Temozolomide? David M. Bailey? No?  How about research into Bone Cancers, Pancreatic Cancers, Renal Cancer? If there are cells reproducing in the body, a cancer will exist for it. I’m all for publicity, but if few in the medical profession can even tell the difference between a depressed guy and one with a monster tumor crushing his brain, maybe some awareness and research would help there, too. And if 1/100 cases of breast cancer are men then let’s raise some awareness on how to do male breast self exams and the symptoms of cancer so men can catch it and fight it in the early stages too. Maybe we could focus a little less on the “Save the ta ta’s ” and throwing pink ribbons everywhere and a little more on researching, donating locally to all types of cancer groups, and spreading the awareness of how to save lives of all cancer patients”¦
“¦ not just the sexy ones.

Published by

Tashi

I am a mid-twenties former student - formerly a full-time caregiver for my husband 'Wash' who had Glioblastoma Multiforme - End stage brain cancer. He passed away in Sept 2012 one month after his 28th birthday. I have a medical anthropological background and was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome as an adult in 2006. My husband was in college for Architecture studies before he withdrew due to the cancer. I am a Humanist and a very large nerd. Wash identified as a geek. I have been in the alternative scene for a period in my life and have had over 70 piercings. I have also held a long term job working with Real Estate agents. Both my husband and I are supporters of legalizing Medical Cannabis. Home is in the Valley of the Sun, Arizona with our two cats.

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