By Alice Brandon, BCAction member
When I was 39, I was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer. I have no family history of cancer, let alone breast cancer, and I ate a healthy diet, exercised and was thin. I was also en ecologist that avoided plastic containers for food and was careful to avoid chemicals when I could do it. None of this mattered.
I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, chemotherapy for a year, and radiation treatments. I also now suffer from neuropathic chronic pain to my chest wall due to my treatments. It’s hard enough dealing with the cancer, chronic pain and reoccurence fears. But that’s not all I have to live with.
I have to check each personal care product I use for carcinogens because my government can’t or won’t protect me. I filter my tap water to protect against hazardous chemicals dumped in the water by oil refineries nearby. And I sit on my couch at home knowing it contains flame retardants linked to cancer.
On all sides I’m assaulted by the toxins we allow to infiltrate our environment. I’m so angry that companies are allowed to poison women like me and then turn around and claim they care by supporting a lame awareness campaign. I know they are making money on the backs of me and all women who have had breast cancer or have died from it.
I had my breast cancer biopsy in October. I remember waiting nervously for the results while seeing pink everywhere. Like I needed the reminder. Here I am terrified and I have to see society make breast cancer look “pretty” and “fun” and “positive.” It’s none of these things, and I’m so weary of having to explain to others why the barrage of pink is offensive. It’s so alienating, and I feel very alone. It makes me so angry, and I’m not allowed even that. I’m counting the hours until October is over.