Breast cancer. It’s one of women’s greatest fears, right up there with “rape” and “death of a child.” It’s not just bad ’cause it could kill you. It’s bad ’cause it could leave you disfigured for life. Women take great pride in their appearance, and losing a breast, or having one scarred by surgery (as I have; both breasts in case you were wondering), is a very real threat to an individual woman’s femininity.
Breast cancer is a subject very near and dear to my heart, for reasons I don’t want to talk about just yet, but I can assure you I take it very personally. It’s one of the reasons why I am such an ardent breastfeeding advocate and always will be. As long as I’m alive, I will use every ounce of my strength to make sure accurate information about breastfeeding and breast health is disseminated.
I am kind of sickened, though, by the lip-service I see for “breast cancer awareness” without real awareness of this disease. I am torn, because on the one hand, any kind of awareness brought to breast cancer is a good thing, but on the other hand, a lot of people are deluded into thinking that breast cancer awareness means slapping on a pink ribbon and calling it a day.
Most of the pink-ribbon paraphernalia that touts “Breast Cancer Awareness” don’t actually support breast cancer research, btw. What they really support is the person who sold them. (I sell all kinds of products in my two stores, but I make sure that a significant percentage of what I make goes to organizations that fund truly breastfeeding-friendly organizations. Otherwise, I’d feel kind of slimy asking for your money.)
Breast cancer awareness should always include the awareness of breastfeeding’s ability to help prevent breast cancer. The ability of breastfeeding, particularly extended breastfeeding (breastfeeding that extends beyond a year), to reduce the incidence of breast cancer, is amazing. Unfortunately, this kind of information is sorely lacking from a lot of mainstream literature for breast cancer awareness. There are several reasons for it, but it can be boiled down to one simple principle: people who have the power to make this information available to the masses have little incentive to disseminate that information (or they aren’t made aware of it themselves). That’s why it’s not very common to read an article about breast cancer awareness in a mainstream magazine (online or otherwise) and have it talk about how breastfeeding cuts the rate of breast cancer by whatever percentage… More than likely you’ll read about how to buy some useless pink object you’ll never need (which may even be bad for you) to promote yet another empty gesture.
I firmly believe that the breast cancer epidemic our society is witness to now is a direct result of, among other things, the medical establishment, starting circa the 1920’s, discouraging women from breastfeeding their babies (by encouraging artificial baby milk use and telling them their human milk was “no good.”) Of course, the medical establishment — doctors, nurses, hospitals — were encouraged by the dairy and burgeoning formula manufacturers to push artificial baby milk onto their patients, in exchange for money and/or free formula samples. They still are.
Would women still have breast cancer if they breastfed? Yes, most certainly, some of them would; the disease has always existed (my own great-grandmother had breast cancer and she breastfed six children — though the disease didn’t kill her). But there probably wouldn’t be nearly as many cases as we’re seeing now had every single woman breastfed.
Anyway, this is all a lead-in to say that in my International Breastfeeding Symbol Online Store (not the CafePress one — that one 100% of the profits I make will always be donated to the HMBANA Austin Milk Bank), 100% of the profits I make for the month of October will be given to breast cancer organizations hand-picked by me. So far I’m looking at The Breast Cancer Prevention Institute and Breast Cancer Action. I need to do more research on both before making a final decision, but even if I opt not to donate to either one of them, I will donate 100% of the profits to a breast cancer awareness/education/research organization that I’ve researched pretty thoroughly. With all the scams in the world, though, I need to be cautious, so I’ll have to, like I said, research some more. For the symbolic month of October, I can find no better cause to donate all my money to than true breast cancer awareness.