Are you WOKE? About breast cancer...?All around me, on social media and in real life, people are chattering about being "woke". It got me to thinking... how many of us in the breast cancer community are woke? Like for real, honestly and truly aware about what's happening in the breast cancer community and how it affects us personally and others around the world? Do we know what's going on?
I think that outside of what may be happening to us personally (or our loved one), we're not only blissfully unaware, we're perfectly fine (for the most part) in not knowing.
What is going on?
The world seems to be spinning faster than usual these days. Time is flying by and day after day we see more and more craziness in the world. Terror attacks around the world, people being senselessly killed and city after city is erupting in protests about one thing or another. And, in the meantime, people are being diagnosed every single day with breast cancer. Or are continuing their fight through treatment. Or... have finished treatment and are now looking around at their life like "now what?"
I get it. It is all hard. All of it.
What is WOKE? Other than questionable grammar...
"Woke" is a term that originated in the black community some years ago as a descriptor for people who were consciously aware that the way things appeared to be was not necessarily how they actually were. It's a term used in the social justice movement, but I think it can be applied in the breast cancer community as well.
Being aware, or being woke, is as critical to our survival and forward movement as it is for race relations in this country.
Being woke means that you're paying attention to everything that's going on in your community. Community can represent your physical community, but typically it means your cultural community. In this pink ribbon world, it can reflect the breast cancer community; both your personal circle and the community at large.
Do you know what the issues are in your communities? Do you know what's happening in the breast cancer world? Do you understand what other survivors are coping with? What issues are hot topics? Do you know what's on the horizon as far as treatments and diagnoses and coping mechanisms for survivors? Are you aware of what is happening to others who may be living a life similar to yours?
Why does being woke matter?
In the black community, being woke is important because it keeps us grounded in the reality that what happens in one segment of our community could happen in others and does affect us all. It keeps us conscious that we're all in it together.
For example, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is based on concerns and fears that affect the entire black community. In conversations with friends in different areas of the country concerning these incidents, some of my friends felt the sting of what those deaths represented but because they lived a different lifestyle (or had more money - just keeping it real) they didn't believe it could happen to them. Until it kept happening and kept happening in different cities, different states, different regions, yet the outcome was the same. Certain black deaths were not finding justice in the court system. That made it clear that it didn't matter who you were, if you were black you were at risk. That realization made a lot of us WOKE.
Being woke is the opposite of thinking... "well that couldn't happen to me"...being woke means that you know that it could.
|Stay Woke shirt available at Audacity Tees|
In the breast cancer community, on the surface it may appear that we're all on the same page but if you dig a little deeper, you can see divisions within the community. Sometimes I wonder whether or not the community realizes that what affects one segment does affect on the community as a whole.
For example, a lot of attention is finally being given to the metastatic community. Considering that the biggest fear within our breast cancer community is that this disease may kill us, you would think that the high priority attention that mets sisters (and brothers) are receiving would have been at this intensity for decades. Yet somehow, it wasn't the highest priority for many organizations. I'm not sure why more attention and money hasn't been directed to the specific needs of mets patients, but I am thoroughly pleased that more attention is happening now.
One thing I have noticed is that I really don't see many stories by black women living with mets. I have my guesses why that is - mostly cultural issues - but I don't know for sure. Triple negative breast cancer hits our community very hard and it is a somewhat rare and very aggressive type of breast cancer. Younger black women are more likely to have triple negative breast cancer than any other group. Yet, I don't see a lot of black women being active in the triple negative community. I do not see a lot of black women active in the mets community either. Both of these communities have concerns that really impact our community. But we're not sitting at those tables. They need our voices and our presence.
While I think that fundraising and awareness activities are helpful and necessary, I also think that being active in other types of organizations and activities are important too. We need to be WOKE in all areas of breast cancer awareness and advocacy.
18 Great sources of information, support and advocacy in the breast cancer community
There are so many organizations and people in the world working for breast cancer-related interests. Not every group or every business is the same or has the best interests of patients and survivors in mind. However, I've listed below some great sources for breast cancer information and support. This list is far from comprehensive and represents the organizations that I am most familiar with. There are many others. (This list is in no particular order)
If you know an organization that should be listed here, please leave a comment below or send an email to email@example.com.
- BCSM. BCSM stands for Breast Cancer Social Media and it is a weekly twitter chat and a non-profit organization that brings together a lot of stakeholders to discuss all aspects of breast cancer. BCSM.org
- Breast Cancer Consortium. The Breast Cancer Consortium is a non-profit that focuses on the larger view/perspective about breast cancer. Their goal is to push beyond awareness and pink ribbons to an understanding of health literacy. BreastCancerConsortium.net
- CDC Breast Cancer. The CDC Cancer division is a government agency tasked with working with national leaders in the cancer community to develop, implement and promote effective strategies to prevent and control cancer. Their facebook page has a lot of good information regarding breast cancer. CDCBreastCancer www.cdc.gov/cancer/
- Tigerlily Foundation. To educate, advocate for, empower and provide hands-on services and support to young women (15-40), before, during and after breast cancer. Tigerlilyfoundation.org
- Breastcancer.org. When I was first diagnosed, the message boards at Breastcancer.org helped me a lot. Lots of great information about a variety of topics. Easy to understand with clear graphics. www.BreastCancer.org
- Bold and Breastless. I met Shondia McFadden-Sabari when I had the opportunity to work on a breast cancer PSA for BET a couple of years ago. Shondia is a beautiful and dynamic survivor using her experience as a platform to speak love and positivity to other survivors and to various audiences through her Bold & Breastless non-profit. www.BoldandBreastless.com (our video is at the very end of this post, if you haven't seen it before)
- Sisters Network, Inc. The Sisters Network is a national African-American breast cancer survivorship organization, headquartered in Houston, TX. There are affiliate chapters across the country. They serve as a system of support and awareness for the African-American community. www.SistersNetworkInc.org
- Cure magazine. A great quarterly magazine about cancer. Has a ton of informative articles in each issue. Free to patients and survivors. I look forward to each issue and read them from cover to cover. www.curetoday.com/
- Healthline. A medical website that offers a lot of great and easily understandable information about a variety of health issues. Has a lot of information about breast cancer and each year names a list of best breast cancer blogs. (disclosure: MFB has won best breast cancer blog for the past 4 years). www.healthline.com
- Living Beyond Breast Cancer. A fantastic non-profit that provides information and events for breast cancer survivors. They hold a great conference each year and many other events throughout the year. Their website is easy to navigate and offers information for a variety of audiences affected by breast cancer. www.lbbc.org
- Black Women's Health Imperative. A national organization dedicated to the health concerns of black women and girls. They are active in the breast cancer community and their website has a lot of good accessible information. www.bwhi.org
- Feel Your Boobies. This very funny organization is serious about bringing the message of proactive breast health to younger women through innovative campaign outreach. I have a fondness for their approach for several reasons; I was diagnosed under 40, breast health became important to me in college when one of my professors (who was a survivor) made it her business to teach her students about breast self-exams. www.feelyourboobies.com
- Army of Women. A great outreach program that aims to get more people involved in research and clinical trials for breast cancer. This program is a part of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. www.ArmyofWomen.org
- Breast Cancer Fund. The Breast Cancer Fund is a non-profit that works to connect the dots between our toxic environment and breast cancer. There is a ton of valuable information on their site about toxins in our everyday environment and ways that we can avoid or reduce exposure. www.breastcancerfund.org
- Young Survival Coalition. A non-profit that is targeted toward young women diagnosed with breast cancer. Started by 3 survivors who were diagnosed under 35, they are the go-to organization for young women with breast cancer. Very active organization. www.youngsurvival.org
- Susan G. Komen Foundation. Everyone knows this organization and knows their track record of making the pink ribbon ubiquitous with breast cancer awareness. I've been privileged to work with them in their blogger outreach campaign for the past couple of years. I've learned a lot of great information from them and have connected with some fantastic members of the breast cancer community through our meetings. I value their contribution to the community and the work that I've seen them do. ww5.komen.org/
- Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. A leading non-profit organization focused on triple negative breast cancer. www.TNBCFoundation.org
- Metastatic Breast Cancer Network. A very active non-profit that is dedicated to helping men and women living with mets. They are advocates for metastatic breast cancer. www.mbcn.org
|Woke AF shirt available at Audacity Tees|
click here to purchase bit.ly/AudacityTees