For anyone who's been on Facebook the last couple weeks, you've probably seen the latest wave of posts that look like this: "I'm 4 weeks and I'm craving peanut butter." You might see it and stop and go "oh my, my friend is clearly pregnant! I shall congratulate her." Only, the post has nothing to do with a pregnancy, but is part of some clever little game spread via mass forwarding to - supposedly - increase breast cancer awareness.
Because I need to get it all out of my system once and for all, here are my issues with this nonsense.
1. The email explaining this little game (and others like it) tells recipients to post their status as "I'm ____ weeks and I'm craving _____." The first blank spot correlates to the month in which you were born, and the second blank is filled using a list of foods corresponding to the day of the month of your birth. It claims that the purpose of this is to be raise awareness about breast cancer, but it provides no actual resources, sites, or facts about the disease.
2. The "game" is specifically limited to women, based on the email. Men make up 50% of our population. They are the husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons of women with breast cancer. They can be an invaluable tool in raising awareness, and information should not be limited to women. Not to mention, over 2,000 men are diagnosed and 450 men die a year from breast cancer. Keeping this information from them can literally be detrimental to their health and well-being.
3. The deceitful pregnancy status does nothing to raise awareness if the only people who know the code are the ones who get the accompanying email forward. Which means that - assuming no one in my 200+ friends got the email as well - if I post the status, not one of them knows what the hell I'm talking about. Awareness? No, pretty much just confusion when I have to explain to them that I am not in fact pregnant. I'm pretty sure that even by the time I've explained that it's supposed to be about breast cancer awareness, no one will even care because they'll be annoyed with me for toying with their emotions.
4. Raising awareness - to me - means giving people information. Crazy concept, right? There is nothing informative about the color of my underwear (last year's game) in regard to breast cancer. Raising awareness means teaching people about detection through self exams and mammograms. It means providing resources to learn facts. It means spreading the word about the Race for the Cure and other benefits that raise money for research. Someone please tell me how "I'm 3 weeks and craving effing pretzels" does this. Please.
I realize that this may seem to be an odd thing to get so worked up about, but it really just pisses me off. Treating an illness as a joke is not cool. I suppose I should post about my favorite medieval weapon and say it's for testicular cancer awareness, because it's pretty much just as useful. I'm also passionate about this because breast cancer is sort of my chosen recipient of charitable donations. I've donated cookies for bake sale fundraisers for 3-day walkers as well as money. I donated my wedding dress to give terminal breast cancer patients a last wish. I didn't give my most favorite and exquisite possession to something I don't believe in, and I don't appreciate it being made into a joke.
Not to mention, I'm sure you can imagine that seeing faux pregnancy announcements isn't super fun for me. I don't find that much of a joke either. But this isn't just about me. Cancer treatments often make survivors infertile because of the poisons introduced to the body to fight the disease. So to "raise awareness" of breast cancer by pretending to be pregnant in a forum where survivors - who may now be unable to conceive in exchange for having their lives saved - may see it is truly a slap in the face. Everytime I see one of these status messages I will post a link to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and I will explain my above reasons until I'm blue in the face, if I have to.
Seriously people, think before you status.
And because I'm not a hypocrite, here is a link to the National Breast Cancer Foundation
It is also Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month in September, and I'm fortunate enough to have two survivors in your life. Check Your Neck, people