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Reasons Top 10 (breast cancer) Topics
Aren't Gonna Solve Anything

by Christine Lewis, PWCG Founder

Hey you! Over here! Do you hear me??? I’m buried beneath all the algorhythms and fluff on social media. Like the tree that falls in the woods, I make a sound. I actually make a really LOUD sound, but I’m pretty sure most of you haven’t heard it. I’ve been trying to get your attention, but I’ve been buried beneath the forest of these top 10 topics on breast cancer:

1) breast cancer symptoms and signs 

2) breast cancer awareness

3) breast cancer quotes

4) breast cancer surgery

5) breast cancer support

6) breast cancer crafts 

7) breast cancer survivors 

8) breast cancer inspiration 

9) breast cancer tattoos

10) breast cancer shirts

The internet is only going to show the top searches, but who's actually behind those searches? Is it YOU, or is it an institution?

They sound useful, right? I mean we DO want to know the symptoms and signs of breast cancer. We DO want more TRUE awareness about breast cancer. I’m gonna stop right there before I move on. These ARE very RELEVANT topics. 

But there’s a problem. There’s a HUGE problem. The problem is that breast cancer hasn’t been ABOUT YOU, or BY YOU, or FOR YOU. Sure, survivors have blogged and vlogged about breast cancer since that’s been a thing. We’ve written books and articles about the topic before blogging and vlogging was a thing. But institutions have taken over as authorities on breast cancer, taking priority over those who actually EXPERIENCE and SURVIVE breast cancer. BUSINESSES make the top 10 breast cancer searches relevant in the search engines. How do I know this? I’m a SURVIVOR. I’ve faced a BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS. Yet the top 10 search topics on breast cancer don’t ALL resonate with me, and I’m pretty sure they don’t resonate with YOU. Who I DO think they resonate with are people wanting to take advantage of this topic for their own selfish reasons. It’s about time. It’s WELL PAST TIME to change that. Breast cancer should be about US: the people who’ve received a BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS. It should be about SURVIVORS.

I mean, what would WE know about breast cancer? WE’VE only just experienced a BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS in OUR lives. We’re only (I don’t know) SURVIVORS. Yet businesses have typed those top 10 topics into the search so many times that they pop up as the topics WE apparently think are VITAL to OUR lives, as SURVIVORS and people who actually have a BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS. I KNOW breast cancer as a PATIENT and SURVIVOR. While some of those top 10 topics are relevant to US, many of them are more relevant to people from the outside looking in. Some truly have our best interests at heart, and others just want to profit in some way or another. Those 10 topics are apparently what WE, with a BREAST CANCER DIAGNOSIS or as a SURVIVOR actually looking for? Do we even know how to word what we truly represent or look for? Sometimes speaking from the heart doesn’t have a searchable language compared to speaking in a clinical or business/ sales-like tone. So my mission is buried beneath all those surface topics. 

Here’s what I have to say about those top 10 topics and why searching for these topics isn’t necessarily going to solve OUR problems with breast cancer: 

Breast cancer isn't often about SURVIVORS. More often than not it's about businesses who want to appear aware of our situation, or want to make a fundraising (errr,um I mean advertising ) campaign under the guise of "support".

1) Breast Cancer Symptoms & Signs

Maybe I’m buried beneath breast cancer signs & symptoms because I’m a PERSON and not a hospital, or clinic, or “authority” on that topic. After all, I’m just a PATIENT experiencing these signs. What would I know about signs & symptoms? You want REAL. What does it REALLY feel like or look like? Not what people see from the outside, but what is it like as a PATIENT? I can actually tell you quite a bit from the other side of clinical language. I can tell you what it feels like beneath the skin, not just looking at it. I can share with you the #1 sign & symptom that led me to get my mammogram and ultrasound, that led to the words “You have invasive ductal carcinoma.” I can share with you what I think other signs were that I overlooked, but looking back I didn’t know. I’m tired of talking in a clinical language. It’s not you. It’s not me. Let’s get real here. The only reason you’re seeing the clinical speak so much is because those people showing up in your searches (the hospitals and big pharama, and other “authorities”) have an entire staff of people dedicated to their social media campaigns. We PATIENTS usually don’t. I know a LOT about signs & symptoms. Just give it time. It’ll show up in my posts. I promise. But you’ll probably have to follow me, or I’ll slip through the cracks. Chances are, you’re more likely to be a patient, not a doctor, or a nurse, or some other “authority” on what breast cancer is. Patients ARE authorities in some things dealing with breast cancer. I mean, we’re actually EXPERIENCING breast cancer from the inside out. But what would WE know?
Survivors should be respected among authorities on signs & symptoms of breast cancer. After all, WE"VE experienced them.

2) Breast Cancer Awareness

What, exactly, is breast cancer awareness? Your searches say it’s quotes, or the month (October), or ideas, or (orange? what does orange have to do with breast cancer awareness?) Or maybe it’s shirts? Maybe it’s images (now you may be getting somewhere…or not), or (again with the crafts – – breast cancer is a disease, NOT a hobby), or outfits (Do we wear cancer? I guess we do, kinda. Would people even know what it REALLY looks like?), or decorations. Okay. I’m seeing a theme emerge here. Breast Cancer awareness is apparently (wait for it. Drum rolls, please….) October? It apparently can be narrowed down to ONE month. Hmm. If you’re in the trenches right now, fighting for your life, I’m pretty sure you know that’s not the truth. It’s time we show the world what awareness truly is. It isn’t all summed up in quotes, or a month, or looking at oranges to see if our boobs might show signs of the disease, or buying shirts and wearing the perfect outfits, or decorating for Pinktober. That can be parts of it, but we’re just touching the tusk of the elephant, or the trunk, or the tail. That’s not the elephant in the room itself. The world has taken the “treasure” off the top of the topic of breast cancer awareness. They’ve made it about themselves, whether that is simply public relations, money, or both. It’s about time for breast cancer awareness to be about US: the people who actually have a breast cancer diagnosis. The SURVIVOR. 
What does breast cancer look like? Signs & Symptoms are more than oranges, and cancer survivors don't ALWAYS look sick.

3) Breast Cancer Quotes

I think some of these topics are redundant. Quotes. Inspiration. Quotes are part of inspiration. Sometimes we’re just looking for something, anything, to get us through the day when we’ve just received news that the lump in our breast is malignant. Or maybe we’re just looking for something, anything, to get us through the day when we’re anxious about our first day of chemo. Or maybe we’re just looking for something, anything, to get us through that day we have to go for another screening, to make sure we’re still cancer free. Or maybe we’re just looking for something, anything, to get through another day when we’ve just received news that our cancer’s metastasized. Breast cancer quotes are important, even though they’re just simply a few words. If they inspire, if they help us hold on to hope, there’s something there. Yet breast cancer quotes aren’t breast cancer. They’re just a part of it. You can’t just throw a breast cancer quote our way and solve all our issues. That’s like throwing crumbs to a dog at the dinner table. It’s not solving the root of our hunger and needs.
Stop throwing us crumbs when breast cancer IS about US - NOT about fundraisers (err,um I mean advertising and political campaigns) under our name

4) Breast Cancer Surgery

At the time of writing this post, I actually have a few things I’ve written about surgery related to side effects from having hormone positive breast cancer treatment. I also have an entire course (or chapter of a larger course, depending on how you want to look at it) related to breast cancer surgery, but you probably aren’t even aware of this because (again) I’ve been buried beneath the algorhythms and fluff of social media. Again, I’m not going to deliver this to you from what you expect as an “authority”. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nurse. I’m not a pathologist or medical researcher. I just know a little about breast cancer surgery because (hmmm) I’m a PATIENT who has actually had countless surgeries for breast cancer. So what would I know? You can get a lot of information about surgery from the internet. The authorities have plenty to tell you about it, but can they tell you a patient’s experience? We are PEOPLE. We’re not a surgery. We’re the people the surgeries are done for. We’re the people who need the surgery, and not the surgery itself. What is it like to experience surgery from OUR viewpoint, NOT a clinical viewpoint? Wouldn’t you like to know? Follow me.
What's surgery like from OUR viewpoint, NOT a clinical one?

5) Breast Cancer Support

Breast cancer support groups don’t even show up in the first 10 searches under “breast cancer support,” but I guarantee you that if you know how to give the best support then  you’re coming from the inside looking out. That type of support doesn’t come from a doctor, or a nurse, or some DIY diva. You’re actually a survivor yourself. So you “get it”. Don’t you want to have the support of others who actually speak your language? Don’t you actually want support from others who “get it”? How about support for friends and family? Where are the resources for them to support us better? Where are the resources from them to recharge, feel heard, and vent without making our lives harder? They take the brunt of stupid questions and comments and buffer them for us. Where is their release? Where are others that “get it” from their viewpoint? If you search further you find that breast cancer support has to do with “products”. Okay. Maybe we’re talking about wigs, or limb alert bracelets, or compression sleeves, or even beauty products with simple ingredients, but what do Swavorski crystals have to do with supporting breast cancer survivors? Where are the RESOURCES? You know – – like who’ll come clean your house, or who’ll provide a way for people to sign up to bring meals, or who’ll watch your kids, or who’ll drive you to appointments, or who’ll help you figure out how to pay your medical bills? 
I’m not sure why I don’t see these types of thing show up in the top 10 search items when it comes to breast cancer support. As a breast cancer survivor myself, I know these are the things SURVIVORS are searching for. So I imagine that breast cancer support has been monopolized by people wanting to capitalize on it. They want to show the world that they care by bombarding us with pink products every October, where they’ll give 20% to a breast cancer fundraising (err, I mean advertising) campaign.  Where are they the other 11 months out of the year? Breast cancer doesn’t take a break. I’m here for you all 12 months out of the year, with genuine “I get it” support: with resources for your support network, with support resources to actually SUPPORT your physical AND emotional needs. 
Why is it that "products" show up higher in the search engines than "breast cancer support groups" when it comes to BREAST CANCER SUPPORT?

6) Breast Cancer Crafts

I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but breast cancer isn’t a hobby. It’s a disease. Some of us are dying (literally) to get that message across to the public. That said, I’ll put together a board related to that topic (since it’s apparently in the top 10 searches). I guess there can be some real value to breast cancer crafts (I’ll get to that in another post). 
Breast cancer is a disease, not a hobby. (But if it takes your mind off something you'd rather forget about then I understand that).

7) Breast Cancer Survivor

You’d think this would be a pretty relevant search topic. Believe me, it is. I mean, we are, after all, those who are actually EXPERIENCING breast cancer FIRST HAND. Coming from the viewpoint of a survivor, I’m one of those people who can actually tell you what it’s like to survive breast cancer, and so can many people in my breast cancer support groups. Our PWCG calendar features 13 breast cancer survivors, each with a slightly different angle on surviving breast cancer: some with stage 0, some with stage 4, some who are younger, some who are older, some with less than 5 years of survivorship, some with over 20 years of survivorship. We’re evidence that breast cancer doesn’t discriminate. It affects people of all colors, ages, shapes, sizes, and bank accounts. Yet you probably won’t notice this if you search for “breast cancer survivor”. When I type in “breast cancer survivor” it’s followed by quotes, gifts, party, sister, photography, shirts, sayings, pictures, tattoos, inspiration, and more. Some of those search items are relevant, but some of them have crowded out the heart of the topic by rushing to define it with a simple quote or saying. I imagine “sister” pops up because most of us are pink sisters. Are you aware there are “pink” brothers too? Some of what my mission through PWCG delivers probably pops up under “photography” and “party,” because it’s my goal to provide a photography party for at least 13 survivors a year. It’s my goal to provide hope to those newly diagnosed and help restore confidence in other survivors. You might not know that though, because I’m buried under quotes, and gifts, and parties, and shirts, and sayings, and tattoos, and (again) crafts. Breast cancer is about PEOPLE, not products or hobbies. PWCG is about PEOPLE. We’re here to make you aware. We’re here to bring a face to the disease. We’re here to celebrate YOU. We’re here to define what really matters in life because we’ve seen how short life can be. We’re here to emphasize living in the  moment. We’re here to have fun (because you need to enjoy the moment and not be so distracted by what this disease has already tried to take from you). We’re here to guide you through where we’ve already been. We’re simply HERE for you (but you may have to dig to find us).   
I don't know about you, but when I type in "breast cancer survivor" I"m expecting the first topics to pop up to be about actual SURVIVORS - -not quotes, gifts, party, photography, shirts, sayings, or tattoos. Those things DO relate to survivors, but wouldn't you think SURVIVORS would actually be the first thing to show up in that search? Why is THAT word buried under all the rest? Look at this picture. These are 12 SURVIVORS. Yes, we're in a CALENDAR, but it's a calendar about survivors. Without BREAST CANCER PATIENTS or SURVIVORS you don't have breast cancer.

8) Breast Cancer Inspiration

Some of these topics are redundant. Quotes, and sayings, and tattoos, and shirts, and gifts, and art, and ideas, and parties, and clothes, and nails, and hair, and wreaths, and decorations, and posters, and logos, and wallpaper (not from the 80’s probably, but for your computer screen), and cards, and cookies, and makeup, and designs, and slogans — IT’S ALL ENOUGH TO MAKE YOUR HEAD SPIN. Many of these topics are parts of inspiration. Some of these things keep us going for one more day. Some of these things distract us so we can actually get some fun out of life instead of being encapsulated inside a cocoon of doom and appointments that seem to take over our lives. Some of these things help family and friends feel like they’re supporting us. Some of these things actually DO help family and friends support us. Some of these things allow businesses and politicians to use our situation to gain money or votes (but not truly help us much at all). What all of these things SHOULD be doing is inspiring people who actually have a breast cancer diagnosis. 

It’s my goal  to provide inspiration from people coming from the inside looking out, not from the outside looking in. WE are the ones who need the inspiration to go one more day. WE are the ones who understand it’s okay to not be okay (sometimes). We are the ones who DO want to get away from it all sometimes and forget all about cancer. Why are we letting others define that for us? Are we letting others define that for us, or is it simply that OUR cause has been buried beneath someone else’s?
When it comes to breast cancer inspiration, internet searches seem to have it covered but are these inspirations coming from US, on the inside looking out, or are they coming from people who have a motive not related to our TRUE cause?

9) Breast Cancer Tattoos

Breast cancer tattoos are pretty cool! I”m not talking about the ones you get before radiation, to help guide your treatment for your daily therapy. (I think I have 6 of those types of tattoos, but I may have overlooked one or two).  I’m talking about the ones that remind us that we’re pretty bad-ass for surviving or continuing to fight this disease. I’m talking about the ones that celebrate the scars instead of trying to hide them. I’m talking about the ones that tell a story. I never got one of those. (So far I’ve been pretty much of a wimp – – even after all the bloodwork I’ve had done, and all the I.V.s that have poked my hands and arms, and all of the chemo that’s run through my veins, and all of the surgical knives that have sliced my skin. Ha! Ha!). Tattoos are only PART of OUR story, but I’ll provide a board to inspire you (even if the chances of me personally getting one of these is slim, and if I did get one it probably wouldn’t be socially appropriate to share it on social media — another reason I haven’t gotten one). 
Breast cancer tattoos are only a PART of OUR story, but I'll provide a board to inspire you.

10) Breast Cancer Shirts

Breast cancer shirts have been mentioned before. They’re part of inspiration. Some of them bring awareness of our disease to others. Some of them bring our attention to the humor to get our  minds off of the pain and struggles. Some of them celebrate all we’ve overcome. Some of them define cancer the way it really is: the “good,” the bad, and the downright ugly. I’ve actually got a board dedicated to t-shirts. It’s mainly there to try to dig myself out of this onslaught of the breast cancer topic so you can actually see me and the mission of PWCG. But breast cancer isn’t t-shirts. T-shirts are the way some people make a profit off what SURVIVORS go through, and t-shirts are the way WE sometimes get through one more day. We are so much more than t-shirts.
Breast cancer t-shirts are cool for so many reasons, but breast cancer is about so much more than shirts.

How Do We Dig Ourselves Out of This Pink Forest?

Treasures don’t always exist on the top. In fact, they rarely ever do. If there was a treasure there, it’s gone. People have already taken it. To get to TRUE treasure you usually have to DIG. If you want to get to THAT treasure, read this post, pin it, and follow me.(I know that sounds like I’m speaking the same language of the marketers on here, but for lack of getting your attention any other way, that’s how we get the REAL search topics out there). 
Who am I kidding? Chances are that I’ll hardly ever show up in the top of the search engines no matter how hard I try. I, honestly, don’t have the time for it (nor, sometimes, the mental or physical capacity). I’d also rather live in the moment, and spend most of my time with the people who matter to me personally in my life. My goal isn’t really to sit behind a computer for a majority of the rest of my life, grasping for the ever-elusive ring of followers and the “sweet spot” of engagement. I do this because I think there are actually people looking for TRUE support. I do this to give my breast cancer “journey” purpose and relevance, to remind myself that I didn’t go through this for nothing. 
I MAINLY do this for YOU. I don’t bottle it up inside, but I could’ve simply spewed it all out in a journal somewhere – –  a place to vent, or remind myself of everything I’ve already overcome, or to explain to my children things I want them to understand about what I went through. Blah, Blah, Blah. If you can hear me, among all that NOISE out there on social media, and you actually want content relevant to what WE, SURVIVORS, want, follow me, pin my content, and join PWCG. Until WE saturate the search engines with what WE want to see all we’ll ever see are these same top 10 topics that may or may not meet our needs.
There's such a HUGE pink forest that I'm beginning to think I'm in a Dr. Seuss movie or a GIGANTIC vat of cotton candy! How do we get out of this pink forest and actually help OURSELVES make BREAST CANCER ABOUT US, BY US, and FOR US? We begin my making more relevant searches than the people who want to capitalize off US, and we begin by following EACH OTHER and not institutions.

Thank you for stopping by!

About Me

Myself

When I was diagnosed with Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in 2015 I wanted my journey with breast cancer to have a purpose. First and foremost, my family was my motivation to fight this disease. I made a lot of lifestyle changes so that I can be around for my family for many years to come, but I also felt inspired to archive my journey so that others could benefit from what I’ve learned and applied.This was why Pink Warrior Calendar Girls was founded.

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