Link love: the breast cancerversary edition
Yep, that's what you think it is. Tomorrow marks two years since my breast cancer diagnosis.
Last year I threw a big party to celebrate my one year anniversary. I was tired of being sick and desperate to wrap it up nice and neat.
Today that doesn't really sound fun. What can I say, our thoughts and feelings evolve. It seems obvious, but we often don't give ourselves (or others) freedom to change.
And...it's complicated. That's a lot of identity shifts in two years: seemingly healthy, very sick, in chemo, surgery, radiation, more surgery, waiting in purgatory, in remission. When you're in treatment, you're always waiting for some mythical when this is over but I'll always be someone who had breast cancer. The effects of that show up in new and different ways all of the time.
I do have a few requests for you in honor of my anniversary. Don't worry, I'm not hitting you up for money ;)
1. Check yourself. All of you. Men get breast cancer too. Encourage your friends to check themselves too. If you're not sure how, ask your doctor.
2. Vote. Seriously, vote. Register to vote. Ask other people to register to vote. Get involved. Resources: vote.org, swingleft.org. We have a webinar next month on how to mobilize for the midterm elections. It's just for members, but we're happy to open this one up to anyone who would like to join. Just reply to this email and I'll get you in.
3. Don't support pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is when companies use breast cancer as a tool to sell products. Just because a company slaps a pink ribbon on a product doesn't make it good or their motivations pure. Breast Cancer Awareness month isn't until October and I'm already noticing it everywhere. See if you can spot it. Call it what it is. Don't buy it.
4. Think critically and do your due diligence before donating or volunteering for nonprofits. I'm not just talking about what you can find on sites that rate charities. Just because a nonprofit is well-known doesn't mean it isn't problematic. Critical questions to ask (beyond "where does the money go?"): Who is on the leadership team and are they representative of the people they claim to serve? In the disability justice community, there's a saying "Nothing about us without us." Are their corporate sponsors in line with the values they espouse? Do they perpetuate toxic narratives like the myth of the white savior? What's the message they're putting out into the world and is it helpful or harmful?
5. Check your ableism. If you're not sure where to start, #suckitableism is on fire right now. It's issue-specific, but gives a lot of insight into how rarely the needs of people with disabilities are considered.
6. Stop giving unsolicited advice to people with chronic illness. No one likes it, but your friends with chronic illness especially don't like it. I know we all want to help, but no one needs you to fix them.
In closing, you're never getting your tupperware back. Also, I'll be doing talks during Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the importance of early detection, common misconceptions about breast cancer, and other important things like how to support people you care about when they are going through something hard. Get in touch if you'd like me to come chat with your company or organization. And in the meantime, we'd love to see you next week or come say hi in the Facebook group.