Facebook status updates and breast cancer awareness

There’s yet another awareness campaign where people are supposed to change their Facebook status to something cryptic (bra size, shoe size, whatever) in hopes of raising awareness about breast cancer.

Pessimists out there are now asking how the &%#@ posting a cryptic status raises awareness. Cryptic statuses get attention if everyone is posting similar statuses (especially is they easily be imagined to be something sexual), people start wondering what’s going on, they start asking about it in other places on the web, the media finds out, and eventually there are news articles about the latest “cute” or “clever” online campaign.

So, technically, it does get attention, but I still don’t want to play. Especially as they seem to be focused around the “cool” cancers. Let me clarify. No cancers are cool, but some cancers get a lot of attention and it’s “cool” to be a part of those campaigns. This may be because they have great advertising campaigns (sex sells, so it’s easy to sell the idea of breast cancer support) or they tug at people’s heart strings (i.e., anything to do with kids).

Here’s the thing: the “cool” cancers aren’t the only cancers (or even the only diseases) that need awareness and they may be getting a disproportionate amount of donations just because they are “cool”. As Dr. Brian Goldman (of CBC’s White Coat, Black Art) pointed out in a podcast earlier this year, “… in terms of fundraising and research dollars, we tend to respect breast, prostate, childhood cancers and leukemias far more than lung, colorectal and stomach cancers.  That’s surprising since it’s the latter three types of cancer that are among the most common and most deadly.”

Post how long it takes to get your hair ready in the morning or where you like to leave your purse (assuming you have one) if you like, but I won’t. Instead, I’m posting something along the lines of this:

I support the prevention of all cancers, the care of all cancer patients, and the hope for better cancer treatments. I acknowledge that child, breast, or other gonad* related cancers are not the only cancers that affect us and, consequently, not the only cancers that deserve our support and understanding. I support a cancer free future.

*Gonad is a word nerdy people use to mean sexual organs. It’s actually the organ that makes the gametes (eggs and sperm).

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