#BreastCancer: Not Just a “Woman’s Issue”

I would like to start this with a bit of a rant.

I love the fact that smartphones are able to do so much.  Even thinking back to a mere ten years ago, they have come a long way.  At some point, they have practically eliminated the need for desktops all together.  I do understand that there is still quite a bit that needs to be done on the desktop computer, but so much can be done on our smartphones and I think it’s safe to say that this applies to the majority of tasks we have to perform each day.

For those of us who have been around long enough to remember encyclopedias, when it came to looking up information, once upon a time, that was it.  You went to the library and did your research on the encyclopedias and other reference materials they had there, or, if you were fortunate and saw enough of those Encyclopedia Britannica commercials, you had them at your house.  But that was as good as it got.

Now, much of the same information found in those encyclopedias can be accessed in that device we carry with us everywhere.  That’s right…in the palm of your hand, you can find out much of the same stuff contained in several volumes of encyclopedias, along with much, much more.

Let’s talk about social media.  No, my intent is not to be the social media police.  Social media has been an amazing thing for a lot of people for many, many reasons.  I believe family, friends and/or networking would be at the top of the list for most people.

When it comes to the world of information that can be accessed with these smartphones, it really baffles me as to how much time people spend each day doing nothing but lurking on social media.  Again, that’s your choice, but when I look at the fact that we have access to so much information, yet people would rather spend damn near every waking moment sitting on social media and searching for drama within the pages of their friends and family or just finding pointless reasons to argue with others…it’s just a waste.  I can’t think of how else to put it.

I’m not trying to tell people how to live their lives.  If you want to spend all that time on that, be my guest.  If you’re doing that, this blog post surely won’t change your mind anyway, so knock yourselves out.

My thing is (and yes, I’m getting to the point implied from the title of this post), if there was absolutely nothing else going on, then I could see why people spend so much time just trolling or “stalking” their friends and family or arguing with everyone.  But I also see that so often, there are things we need to know and people don’t use these brilliant devices to find this stuff out.

Speaking today, nine days before the presidential inauguration, I think of all the bogus information that has been passed on through social media in terms of politics.  This is far from the only time this happens, but it has happened WAY TOO MUCH.  The sad thing is, many times, I can tell the information is bogus even without having to open up anything.  It’s the classic case of, if it fits your agenda, you’ll believe it without checking.  If it doesn’t, you’ll question it.

However, WE ALL HAVE THE ABILITY TO RESEARCH INFORMATION FOR OURSELVES, CORRECT? So what is stopping ANY of us from verify information before believing it?

Which brings me (finally, right?) to my purpose of writing this.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook earlier today that she will soon be having a mass removed from her breast, along with reminding women to be certain to keep up on performing breast exams, self-exams and maintain good overall breast health.  I don’t often share posts, but I felt a need to share that one.

Maybe this is silly, but whenever I see “Breast Cancer Awareness,” it just bothers me.  Why is this something that we still need to be made “aware” of?

That was the point of my rant at the beginning of this.  Breast cancer has stricken most, if not ALL of us in some form or fashion.  I lost my aunt (my closest relative outside my immediate family and my mother’s twin) nearly six years ago and my mother had a benign mass (forgive me if that’s not the proper terminology) removed shortly after that.  I have close friends who have experienced this as well, whether sadly losing this horrendous battle or are survivors.

I can understand if this were some rare ailment that we barely hear about.  That would make sense that people would have to be made aware of it. But next to lung cancer, breast cancer is the second-leading killer of women in the United States.

The second-leading killer of women in the United States.  That hurts to even think about.

Yet, many of us still need to be made “aware” of it?

MEN, this is mostly for many of you.

In terms of “awareness,” I think WE need to do a better job of helping the ladies out with this.  I didn’t share my friend’s post earlier this morning looking for brownie points.  I did so because I felt a responsibility to do so.  We cannot treat this as a “woman’s issue.”

This affects ALL of us.

We ALL have women in our lives.  That alone should contribute to us wanting to learn more and to encourage the women who mean the most to us to get checked out.  To continue to perform those self-exams.  To make breast health a priority.

But in order to do that, we must show them that it is a priority in OUR lives as well.  Don’t leave them alone to fend for themselves when it comes to this.  Women are not helpless by any means, but we have to show them that it means just as much to us as it does them. It should.

There have even been stories out there where breasts lumps have been caught (and thankfully treated), during sexual activity.  Don’t laugh at that; that’s not meant to be a joke.  Hey, I’m not trying to ruin your flow.  But if you’re gettin’ on with the get on and you feel something that doesn’t feel right or if any doubt occurs in your mind, SPEAK UP.  Please.  Don’t be ashamed.  As I just said, there are stories where this was the ONLY way this was caught.  I know it’s hard (no pun intended) to stop once you get so far into it, but when you think about what could happen if you don’t speak up and it ends up being something.  That should be enough to get you to say something.

Always better to check and not need to than to not check and…WISH. YOU. HAD.

In general, I don’t care much for the idea of “Men’s Health” and “Women’s Health.”  I wish that health was a concern for EVERYONE.  That means that “women’s health” is “OUR health” and vice versa.

Don’t get me wrong.  I get the concept.  They are separate like this to highlight the issues that mostly strike men OR women.  But often times, I feel like each gender cares only about the issues of their own.

Whenever I hear about a disorder or disease of some kind, however rare it is, I look it up.  Mainly because of my abnormal curiosity, but also because it may be something that strikes me or someone close to me.  I can’t expect everyone to do like me on the rare stuff, but it’s sad to me that breast cancer isn’t something that more of us care about BEFORE it hits close to home.

I understand that not talking about it doesn’t mean that a person doesn’t care.  I just think that we as men have to take the first step and let our ladies (figuratively, not possessively) know that they don’t have to fight this alone and this is not “us against them” (for lack of a more appropriate expression).

I fuss to my wife all the time about getting checkups and checking herself out.  As she just turned 40 last year (I will pay for that later on), I worry about her even more, so I’m proud to be, as she lovingly calls me, a “nagging sitcom wife” (long story) to make sure she puts herself in the best position possible and is on top of this.

So guys, help me out here…when you see women talk about this, let’s give our support.  Let’s share their posts.  Let’s talk to them about it.  Go to the women who may be in “perfect” health and you know…give them a friendly reminder to get checked out.  To check themselves out.  

Now, unless you are married or dating, DO NOT offer to “check them out” yourselves (SOMEBODY was thinking it).  But in all seriousness, let them know we care and breast health is important to us also.
And remember…WE as men can get breast cancer also.  Remember Rod Roddy of the “The Price is Right”?  That is tragically how we lost him.

One last thing that bothers me.  Every so often, this thing goes around on Facebook where women will post crazy expressions, like “I’M GETTING MARRIED” or “I AM GOING TO <country> for X MONTHS!” or “I JUST USED MY BOOBS TO GET OUT OF A SPEEDING TICKET” or “I AM A LESBIAN.” The first time I saw this was when a closer friend of mine did the one about going to another country.  She said something like, “I’m going to Puerto Rico for 16 months.”  Now, she and her husband are good friends of ours and they were in Germany at the time.  My first thought was that they were getting separated.  I wrote to her privately and asked if everything was okay. She didn’t answer. After my wife posted something similar, I found out exactly what this is about.

By the way, my wife’s one said “I AM GOING TO HAWAII FOR 30 MONTHS.”  Number one, people don’t often state that long a period of time in number of months and two, of course we’re married, she’s always wanted to go to Hawaii, and she never once called to tell me this.  We’re both in the military, so if she got orders to Hawaii, a LOT would have been happening.

You can say I’m “ruining the fun” all you want, but I absolutely despise these.  As Beyoncé said, “I ain’t sorry…hell naw.” The purpose is for “Breast Cancer Awareness.”  The deal with the country and the months (yes, I know Hawaii isn’t a country, but not being part of the continental United States, some classify it as such) was that each month represented a location and the birth day of the month symbolized how many “months” said woman was to be in whatever location.  They clearly didn’t think that one through.

Not to mention, the entire point was to share it only among other women, while ignoring men who inquired about whatever was written.

Again I say…I DESPISE THESE.  Number one, what the hell do these have to do with breast cancer awareness?  Two, how is KEEPING IT FROM MEN helping to promote AWARENESS???  In order for me to make you “aware” of something, I’m going to keep it from you.  Makes a whole lot of sense.

Listen, breast cancer is serious shit.  It’s such a slap in the face to make a “game” out of it, let alone having people think you’re pregnant (that’s one too), are about to get married or anything else crazy like that.  I get that it’s Facebook and a LOT of mindless stuff goes on there, let alone the classic enjoyment of pissing men off, but come on…a man cares enough to ask and you still want to be petty?  It’s silly to me.  I see NO correlation between this and breast cancer awareness whatsoever.  Thousands of women die from breast cancer every year and I don’t know…it just rubs me the wrong way that some reduce it to a game, especially one which puts a large focus on screwing with men.  Just seems a bit juvenile to me.

Anyway, that likely won’t stop, either. But with all the “Battle of the Sexes” fights that happen a hundred times a day, I just feel like this should NOT be one of them. Like anything else, I understand that not everyone will have this as a huge priority as it may not be of a direct effect on them. But it can hit close to home for ANY of is if it has not already.

If this ONLY affected women, that would be one thing. But it affects more than just them. Breast cancer is not a game, nor should it be something women have to face alone. 

Guys, please…let’s be there for our ladies. By the time we lose someone, it’ll be too late.

 

 

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3 Responses to #BreastCancer: Not Just a “Woman’s Issue”

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