I remember when I was a young girl and the trend towards Breast Cancer Awareness was becoming big. Being a young, naïve girl I loved it; buying everything (and then some) in pink. Every time my mother would put up a fuss I would say: “But mom, I’m saving peoples lives”. Who could argue with that?
While I was living happily in my pink world, my beautiful mother was unknowingly being attacked by cancer cells. She has been sick for almost ten years, five of which I knew about. Because I was so young when she was diagnosed, no one had a real explanation for me. No one had the heart to tell the innocent, young girl that the woman she adores is suffering. I heard the earth-shattering news when I was a sophomore in high school. My mother is beautiful, and she is strong. She faced her sickness head-on and did not give up for even a moment. Her friends, her boss, her colleagues all had the same question. What the hell is Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma? “It’s a bitch,” she says. As she was putting on a strong face for her daughters, on the inside she felt alone. Other than her family who was there for her every step of the way, she felt she had no support system.
Tell me that any cancer patient deserves to feel like that, and I’ll tell you you’re an asshole. As I was doing some spring-cleaning one day, I found a pink breast cancer awareness bracelet. It then occurred to me: where is the all-green-everything to support my family during their suffering? Where is the support system, the sense of safety and understanding for Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma victims? Where are the catchy slogans and commercials raising awareness for the horrible, non-cureable disease my mother suffers from? What about lung cancer? Stomach cancer, bladder cancer, leukemia?
My question is: who made the decision that your cancer is more important than my cancer? I know and I understand that breast cancer is the most prominent cancer in women, but it is disproportionally funded. I am not by any means lessening the importance of breast cancer awareness; I am simply increasing the importance of all cancer awareness. People have every right to support any cause they desire, but no human being has any right to decide which person deserves a cure or a treatment more than another.
So my question stands: what makes your cancer more important than my cancer? I have worked hard every day for my mother, raising awareness for her illness so that I can show her that she is not alone. There are other people in the world who are wondering where their support system is. Where their ribbons, bracelets, runs and walks for their cure are so that they can finally envision an end to their constant battle. My point in writing this is not to force Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma awareness specifically, it is to force awareness and equality for all cancers. I encourage you to take the time out of your day to educate yourself on a cancer you do not know anything about. Find time in your busy schedule to attend a fundraiser for a lesser prominent cancer, and if you’re feeling crazy, take a lead role in organizing a fundraiser. While it will not be an easy task to raise enough funds to make a significant difference in the research, simply creating a sense of community for victims is enough to create a bigger difference than you could ever imagine.