I don’t know how all of you guys woke up yesterday but my wake up call happened to be a facebook message, which isn’t unusual, but this one was clearly another chain message. I have had so many in the last couple of months that I am used to being told ‘send this one because these people are hackers’ ‘send this on for good luck’ ‘tomorrow facebook is going to have all of your details, BEWARE’ and quite frankly I am getting a bit sick of it all. Yesterday’s message, however, struck a chord with me and not a tuneful one, more like the lowest, flattest, ugliest chord you could strike. This is the message:
Hello, can you put a on your wall, without comment, only a heart, then send this message to your female contacts. After putting one on the wall of the person who sent you this message. If anyone asks why you have so many hearts on your wall do not answer. It is for women only to remember its the week of breast cancer prevention! Check your boobies!!
This may seem a sweet and helpful message to most of you but if you follow my blog you will know full well that I lost my Mum to Cancer 13 years ago. I am the last person who needs to be told to raise awareness I have been doing this since I was a child! I watched my Mum battle Cancer for 15 years until it finally beat her in November 2003. I am an active donator, I raise money via just giving pages, I take part in race for life and I always donate to Cancer research shops. I use my experience to talk openly to others and have never shied away from speaking about my Mum and all she went through. I have been known to bring people to tears describing what we all went through but to me, this is raising awareness. A heart on a facebook status means nothing. If you didn’t receive a message this week, did you notice the hearts? Did you know what they were for? Did you even bother to ask? Oh hang on, you weren’t meant to ask! Oh of course that is precisely how awareness is raised, by NOT talking about it!
These social media fads need to end. A few years ago we had the no make-up selfie and I remember at the time saying to people that they were not raising any type of awareness for Cancer. Great, if you donated that one off time but a photo of woman’s face with no makeup on? It was supposedly meant to be ‘brave’ fo the women who chose to remove their makeup and post it on social media. Ha, no ladies it is not. What is brave is a person fighting to live, being pumped full of dangerous drugs to try and kill off the cells. It is a child who is sat in hospital who is missing their childhood. It is the person throwing up from another round of chemotherapy. It is a single Mum carrying on her life with her children as normal as possible in order to not disrupt their childhood. It is a person losing their hair, their dignity, their confidence and their self-esteem to a disease they long to disappear. Brave is holding it together whilst being told by your Mum that she doesn’t want to die, that she isn’t ready to go, that she will never see you marry or have children of your own. And brave is organising a funeral that should never have to do at the age of 21.
If you truly want to raise awareness, tell people about the signs of Cancer. Inform them of what we should all be looking for. Go and volunteer at a Hospice and help those in need instead of liking a post, saying Amen on a post for somebody you don’t know, posting a selfie or a heart or copying and pasting a huge status saying you don’t care about curing Cancer if you don’t put this on today. Why not go out and do a race and whilst raising sponsorship, tell people why you are doing it, who you are doing it for and why we need to keep talking about Cancer until a cure is finally found.
If you want to hear the realities of this dreadful disease you can read part of my story here. I haven’t gone into details but if it’s awareness you are after I can certainly tell you much more. You can also read the moving post by Sam Reynolds who is a Cancer survivor. She now runs a support service for other survivors and continues to raise awareness of this awful disease. Or why not visit the blog of Lisa at Terminally Fabulous who is just my age. Her fight is incredible and moving and heartbreaking. She is certainly one very brave lady and she is reaching out to so many to tell them the horrible truth behind what Cancer slowly does to your body.
So, next time you think it is appropriate to write a message or a status why not stop and think about who may be reading it. 1 in 3 people are affected by Cancer so the chances are you are upsetting or angering quite a few on your friend’s list. Instead of clicking something on a screen do something that is more worthwhile. Why not refer friends to websites such as these: Breast self-examination and Testicular self-examination.
Awareness is important, yes. But awareness begins with talking. So, start talking and keep checking yourselves!