Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Is it silly or is it really raising awareness?

I kept noticing this post by several friends on Facebook:

I know nobody will read my status but sometimes, when I'm bored, I get wrapped up in a sleeping bag and lather butter all over myself and slide around the kitchen floor pretending I'm a slug.

So of course I comment something like "ha ha" or "um.... okay?"

Is this some private joke?

A little while later I receive the following private message:

"Dear fellow slug victim. I'm sorry, I have lost at this game and now so have you! You liked or commented on my status so you must now post the following message as your status to continue the game for breast cancer awareness month (unless you have lost your sense of humor). I know nobody will read my status but sometimes, when I'm bored, I get wrapped up in a sleeping bag and lather butter all over myself and slide around the kitchen floor pretending I'm a slug. Thanks!"

So my first question is ... what does this have to do with Breast Cancer Awareness?  How does this help any of the myriad organizations that are researching cancer, working on a cure or supporting cancer patients and survivors?  Quite frankly, I can't see how.  And then of course I began to worry that I seemed callous by posting 'ha ha'.

I know I'm comparing this, and maybe unfairly, to the ice bucket challenge.  Not only did this silly Facebook prank go viral it raised millions of dollars to aid research and treatment for patients and families with ALS.  Towards the end I saw of lot of videos of "do it or donate", which was supposed to be "do it and donate" - and I'm happy to say my 4 children and I did do it and I made a nice donation to the ALS Therapy Alliance.  But the reality is millions of people participated in one form or another, we all became very aware of what ALS is, how debilitating the disease is and millions was raised for research that will hopefully lead to improved treatments and a cure.

But let me get back to my point.  Unless you're 'in the know' - how does a silly post raise awareness and provide any benefits or support to cancer support, treatments and research?And why do we need a silly post to raise awareness?  It's October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Pink is everywhere, there are runs, walks and lots of fundraising events going on.  Awareness does not lead to donations, breakthroughs in research and improvements in cancer treatments and survival. Awareness that leads to action does.  Like this newsletter I received in my email today which encourages donations and showcases companies who will donate a portion of sales of their products to cancer research.   I'm not cynical of breast cancer or any cancers, I have a strong history of cancer in my family which is why I have a mammogram every year.

So my awareness post will be:

New Hampshire's Let No Woman Be Overlooked Breast and Cervical Cancer Program plans, promotes and implements programs of education and screening to reduce the mortality rates, through early detection, of breast and cervical cancer among NH women.