My mother passed away from breast cancer in 2012. She had two different kinds of breast cancer over 12 years. My mom’s youngest sister, who was my godmother, also died from it. My mom found a circle of support and gathered strength from the pink ribbon/survivor subculture. I, on the other hand, as a feminist, community health educator, and her daughter, who watched how breast cancer devastated her body and mind, did not. I was bothered that so few people in my locale seemed to question the associated cause marketing, the social inequities/disparities, and the sexualization of the disease. I was angry that two women who I loved deeply were taken from this Earth too soon. I wanted to DO something besides take a walk or buy a pink product. I happened upon a BCAction webinar about Think Before You Pink® and I felt like I had finally found my philosophical tribe.
I became a Community Leader for Change because I needed an outlet to turn my anger into action. I’ve also worked as a trainer on other women’s public health issues during my career and I knew I had skills and experience to contribute. Becoming a Community Leader allows me to raise my voice and talk back to the cancer industry.
I absolutely believe that prevention is the cure. I have rid my house of off-gassing carpets, and PVCs, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). But I live in Buffalo, New York, which has one of the country’s highest rates of cancer because of our “industrial heritage.” There are 26 Superfund sites in my county and the one next door. We must create systemic changes to protect the next generation.
My goal is to create a tribe in Buffalo and Western New York that will mobilize to fight the polluters in our back yard; that will harness the power of social media to move offline into community and legislative action, and that will welcome with open arms anyone living with or affected by breast cancer who needs a safe space to drop their warrior shields, pink ribbons, and required optimistic outlooks.
To anyone considering getting involved: stop underestimating the power of your voice. Join us because we need you!