Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The face of breast cancer.

As you may or may not know, October 13 is No Bra Day. In other words, social media has given all ladies permission to skip "boob jail" for the day.

Do you know why? It's actually supposed to be a cheeky way to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Enough with the gimmicks, I say.

Here is a real woman you can be aware of. She is my mom, and she has fourth stage breast cancer with metastases in her bones.

My mom's cancer is estrogen receptor-positive (ER+), which mean the hormone estrogen makes it grow and spread. As long as she is living, she will take aromatase inhibitors, which prevent her cells from absorbing the estrogen that feeds her cancer. She also needs medication to prevent her bones from breaking due to this lack of estrogen.

My mom has not lost her hair, she isn't undergoing chemotherapy, she will not have a mastectomy and she will not have radiation therapy, either. Her type of cancer cannot be cured with those types of treatment. In fact, it can never be cured.

My mom does not look like your typical breast cancer patient, but she has breast cancer.

Every year since she was 40, my mom has gone in for a routine mammogram. Her cancer was not caught by these tests. By the time it was detected, it had already spread to her bones.

Her grandmother died of breast cancer and her mother also died from it in 2010. Although this makes it seem genetic, my mom does not have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

The medications my mom takes regularly make her feel absolutely rotten. They have terrible side effects. They make her joints burn and they cause her to feel exhausted and sick every day, as if she has the flu.

For the rest of her life, she will have to get regular blood work and scans to determine if the cancer is progressing. When her medications stop working, she will have to try new and different ones.

My mom is 54 years young. Her illness is terminal.

Having breast cancer doesn't always mean surgery, chemo, radiation, hair loss, reconstructive surgery and recovery. It's not always found in the shower or on a mammogram. It doesn't always start as a lump. And it's not always curable.

Social media gimmicks, like confusing Facebook statuses and silly campaigns like No Bra Day, trivialize a very devastating illness -- one which is likely affecting a woman whom you admire and love, too. In fact, a female born today has a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during her lifetime.

Instead of being a "slacktivist," you can skip these activities and create actual awareness by posting about a real person who has breast cancer. You can tell your friends on social media to check their breasts for lumps and get screened regularly. You can talk about the stats on Twitter and Facebook.

Breast cancer is no joke. It's not cute and it's not sexy, especially when the woman who gave you life has it. Please, take it seriously.

More information about breast cancer: Breast Cancer Research Foundation
For a list of reputable breast cancer foundations and charities, go HERE.


  1. Love this post Jenna, thanks for writing.

  2. This is a great post. I completely agree with you about the gimmicks.

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share this. Hugs to you and your sweet mom!

  4. Your mom is so pretty! I totally agree with this post. It was so well-written, and I can tell your mom is a fighter. I'm praying for her.



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