Member Perspective: Beth Caldwell

bethheadshotBy Beth Caldwell

Beth Caldwell is a mom and former civil rights lawyer who lives in Seattle. She has two children. In 2014, she found a lump in her breast that turned out to be metastatic breast cancer. She left her job as a lawyer so she could focus on convincing her kids that there are foods that aren’t pizza, blogging and hanging out in her oncologist’s office.  In addition to her support of Breast Cancer Action, Beth organized the inaugural die-in for MET UP in October in Washington D.C. MET UP is committed to changing the landscape of metastatic cancer through direct action.  

I’m the story that the mainstream breast cancer organizations don’t talk about. I’m dying of breast cancer. Not today, and hopefully not soon, but someday. I will die of my breast cancer because it has spread, or metastasized, beyond my breast to my brain, lungs, liver and bones. Once breast cancer spreads to other organs, it’s no longer curable. Did you know breast cancer still kills people? Don’t feel bad if you didn’t. Women like me, with metastatic breast cancer, don’t have the “good cancer” that the pink breast cancer world wants you to focus on. I’m the underbelly of the pink machine, and they do their best to hide me from the world.

When I see people wearing pink feather boas and putting pink bras on their dogs at a breast cancer fundraiser that raises money for more stupid awareness campaigns, I want to scream. There is nothing about my cancer that is cute or funny. I must live with the knowledge that my children, ages 9 and 4, will grow up without me. I must endure torturous treatments in order to keep me alive a little longer. I must accept the reality that I will die before I turn 45.

When I see people selling pink products to “raise awareness,” I want to cry. Because all that “awareness” has done nothing to reduce the death toll from breast cancer, which is the same today as it was in 1976, the year I was born. If we had taken all that awareness money and put it into research, think of the lives we could have saved. Think of the 800,000 American women and men who have died of breast cancer in my lifetime–people, just like you, who are gone because we continue to allow the mainstream breast cancer agenda to depict breast cancer as a great big pink party.

Those 800,000 women and men didn’t “lose their fight” with breast cancer. They were killed by a disease that leaves even those who live through their treatment with lasting scars, both emotional and physical. Fighting hard, being brave, standing strong–none of these things will save lives. Just as the pink feather boas, the pink bras on dogs and the pink shoes on football players will not save lives because none of these things support the only thing that CAN save lives: research and a cure. Science is our only hope for an end to this epidemic; science and putting a stop to the environmental toxins that increase our risk of developing the disease in the first place.

Breast Cancer Action actually gets this and they are taking action to change how we confront this disease. And so that’s why I support them. Because they’re not selling a narrative that excludes me. Because they believe in following the science. Because they value  my life, and they want my daughter to be able to live her life without fear that breast cancer will kill her, too.

The perspectives reflected in our member profiles are those of the individual members whose voices we carry and do not always reflect the views of the organization.

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