One of the best moments in the brat pack classic St. Elmo’s Fire is when the preppy Mare Winningham character introducing her family to rebel Rob Lowe at a dinner party. Her mother has this habit of whispering words she doesn’t like to say. So she’ll ask, “Did you hear about so-and-so?” Then she’ll pause, look around, finally leaning close into another guest to whisper dramatically, “Cancer.”
Yes, you can laugh. But don’t laugh too much. Because that’s kind of me.
I am more superstitious than I care to admit. I don’t talk about the things that scare me most, I don’t confess my deepest fears about my kids, and I don’t write about diseases so much.
I think it’s a horrible thing, actually. And it’s not how I want to be. There are a million causes I stand behind and scream about at the top of my lungs (don’t ever ask me to promote the store rhyming with Schmallmart on this blog, ahem) but I recognize that I sometimes stop short when the cause is medical. It’s like, if I don’t talk about it, maybe it will go away.
Well I’ve tried that with breast cancer, and so far I’ve failed.
1 in 8 women will get breast cancer.
That’s a lot of freaking women.
I’m crying as I write this. Like I said, I’m not good at writing this stuff. And I’m not good at thinking about how close to home that really hits. Because if I conjure up 8 women in my life that are important to me, then imagine one of them getting breast cancer…well you can see why it’s something I’d rather not do that often.
So here’s why I am forcing away tears and pushing through my sheer terror about saying cancer above a whisper, and writing about it anyway.
My friend Susan Niebur of Toddler Planet, aka Why Mommy, is a brilliant blogger (seriously briliant – she used to work for NASA) and yes, a breast cancer survivor. And she told me to.
Her post In the Name of Awareness was one of the Blogher Voices of the year, only partly because the semi-final judges were me and Tanis Miller, and we each, coincidentally, scored it a 475 out of a possible 100 points. It’s a must-read. Because Susan is so freaking rational and brilliant about how to help beat breast cancer.
And what Susan says is that wearing pink ribbons and making people aware is kinda not helping enough. Same as me not talking about it is not helping enough.
What is helping is research.
So what she’d like us to do is Join the Avon/Love Army of Women which means you’ll get emails so you can participate in research and online studies. It’s free, it’s easy, and it really does make a difference. Then you can pledge to blog for breast cancer today and share the decision like I just did.
This is a big deal for me.
It means I’m going to get emails about breast cancer all the time. So I have to think about it. And do something about it. Maybe even get better about (eek) talking about it.