Breast Cancer Awareness is Not Enough

By Donna J. Charlevoix

This will be my 12th October in which the designation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) is very personal. I was first diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer in 2009. After limited treatment and being “cured” (as I was told) I always felt like the pinkness of October was a little too commercialized. It felt insincere on some level.

Fast forward to 2019. Last summer I was diagnosed with Stage 4 (metastatic) breast cancer which had spread to my bones. October seemed to come quick after my diagnosis and had a surreal feel to it. Everywhere I turned: pink and ribbons. Every business was selling a product with pink. Social media was flooded with pink. I couldn’t seem to escape it. I knew on some level many individuals and businesses felt like they were sincerely helping the cause of breast cancer awareness, and they were raising awareness. People are very aware of breast cancer.

Awareness is not enough.

  • Awareness is not going to keep me alive.

  • Awareness is not going to prevent my two beautiful girls from losing their mother too early.

  • Awareness is not going to keep my husband from being a widower before retirement.

  • Awareness is not going to prevent my parents from outliving their child.

Research for a true cure is the only thing that will save me and the other 168,000+ individuals in the U.S. living with a terminal diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer.

My commitment to myself for this October - and really everyday - is to educate friends, family and strangers – basically everyone – that awareness is not enough.

How to Move Beyond Awareness

  • We need resources focused on research for a cure.

  • We need to lobby our elected officials to support legislation for more funding for breast cancer research for a cure.

  • We need to make sure every person knows that there is no cure and that 30% of breast cancer “survivors” will be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and not survive.

  • We need to move beyond awareness to a true cure.

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