Imagine if you will a world where 1 in 8 of us are stricken by a terrible disease of the hand. A disease that can kill, involves filling your body with toxins and steals your looks. Imagine if that disease often led to the amputation of fingers. This world, very like our own, would be full of kind people and extraordinary medics fighting to find a cure and raise the funds to do so.
Stay in this world for a moment, imagine yourself at home, moisturising your finger stumps, mourning the loss of your ring finger when lo, on Facebook up pops the latest fundraising campaign – “Give it the Finger”. You have friends, acquaintances, strangers and celebrities filling your news feed with pictures of them “Giving Hand Disease the Finger”. Retailers have designed beautiful rings, nail varnish and five fingered gloves that you can’t wear – they have the most attractive celebrities wearing these things and flaunting their beautiful hands. But it’s OK, 5% of the proceeds will go toward “Hand Disease Awareness”. Nobody who buys them will be any the wiser on the tell-tale finger itching and inflamed finger nails that might strike and rob them of their fingers or whole hands and leave them with stumps. The retailers will tick their Corporate Responsibility boxes. They’ll also increase their profits and build their caring brands while hiding away their fingerless gloves in far corners of the store or simply take them off the shop floor and offer them online. After all, whole people don’t want to come face to face with the disfigured when on a shopping spree.
Ridiculous isn’t it?
It’s October and I am gearing myself up for the pinkness that will prevail. Am I bitter? Yes, very probably. I only have one boob. Treatment was hard. Steroids made me fat and chemo made me bald. Seeing half-dressed perfect women’s bodies flaunted in my name while fundraising, makes me want to hibernate for the month.
But I do hope these campaigns help raise vital funds, I would also like people to be made more aware of the symptoms to watch out for. Feel your boobs, let other people feel your boobs – and if anything seems strange, if you notice a change, get yourself down to the doctor. It may be nothing, but it could be something…and thank goodness we have extraordinary people working to find cures and improve treatments and those efforts are helped by fundraising activities – appropriate or not. And I don’t forget that one of my list of “Great Things About Cancer” was that people take on physical challenges in my name. My sister-in-law was just one of those who donned their running shoes in The Race for Life.
I am no more or less a feminist than the next person on the bus who believes we are born equal. And yet I can’t help wondering that because Breast Cancer is predominantly a disease that affects women it falls foul of the tyranny of a media that surrounds us with semi-clad so-called perfect women’s bodies and faces. So please don’t show me your strap or tag me on half naked pictures of yourself while modelling your sequinned bra. Go ahead, enjoy yourself, love your body but don’t rub my face in your perfect boobs. I’m sure someone else will. Have fun, just count me out for now.