“‘It could be cancer.’
I was 31 years old, lying on a cold bed, getting an ultrasound with a doctor I had just met. She looked me in the eyes, and words came out of her mouth that no woman wants to hear: ‘It’s a tumor, and yes it can be cancerous, but we won’t know unless we do a biopsy.’
The lump. I felt it 2 weeks before I walked into this somber doctor’s office which made these 6 weeks the absolute longest weeks of my life.
I avoided touching the lump at all costs even though I knew I should keep checking on it.
I kept my phone by my side 24/7 in case I got the call.
I paced the house, cried, and researched on Google more than I should have.
It was 6 weeks of the unknown, and feeling uncomfortable, stressed, confused, and worried. I ‘checked out’ of life to just think about the ‘what ifs.’
Not wanting to be a burden on anyone else, I told absolutely no one. Not my friends, not my mom, not my family. I put on the brave face, the absolutely nothing is wrong, ‘I’m a great actress’ face, and went to the hospital to visit my grandma before she passed. I couldn’t bring myself to upset my family about one more health concern. So, I kept quiet and pushed on.
I had a total of 3 doctor visits, 2 mammograms, and a biopsy.
In case you are interested in the details, here are a few random takeaways:
Some doctor’s offices are cute but the extra soft music, pretty pink blankets, positive books, and fireplace kind of just make it all worse. Just let us rock out to some Britney Spears or Eminem while we’re waiting and take our mind off the sadness we’re probably feeling.
Mammograms don’t hurt as bad as everyone says. I was PETRIFIED, but it wasn’t bad at all. The woman did tell me your health plays a role in this, so yay for being healthy.
Waiting for results is worse than the actual biopsy itself.
On November 20th, I got the call to telling me it was benign. I celebrated and expressed tons of gratitude because I know 1 in 8 women get the opposite call and my heart breaks for them.
During those 6 weeks, it was October and Breast Cancer Awareness month, just like it is about to be right now. NFL teams are wearing pink EVERYTHING for their crucial catch campaign. Every store has some pink ribbon items for sale. Men are wearing shirts stating, ‘Save the Tatas,’ or ‘Help save second base.’ Slogans like ‘Big or small, save them all,’ and ‘Great boobs are worth fighting for’ are circulating.
This traumatic experience was being sold, celebrated, and narrowed down to one thing: the way my boobs look and what they could do for others. During those 6 weeks, I was worried about my LIFE, not my boobs.
It became clearer to me that our goal and slogans should be ‘save WOMEN’ not ‘save the tatas.’
We’ve turned breast cancer into being sexy. We’ve permitted society to talk about grabbing our private parts, sexualizing our bodies, evaluating the size of our breasts, and using sexy images of women with boobs to sell breast cancer awareness products.
But women are FIGHTING for their lives! Not for their boobs, not to continue enjoying second base, not to have ‘great’ boobs, but to LIVE!
CANCER ISN’T SEXY.
A woman’s life and value aren’t based on her breast size or your ability to go to second base. Her life, her existence, her well-being is on the line. She’s FIGHTING.
For those 6 weeks, I found myself angry and sad and more frustrated than ever.
As a prior Sociology graduate student, I had studied medical sociology and gender inequality. I knew our society valued women based on how they looked more than what they did or accomplished. So why was I so much angrier than before?
Maybe it’s because I was angry at my own boobs for putting me in this situation?
Maybe because my ‘tatas’ were bringing me so much discomfort and fear that it angered me to see people laughing and smiling about catchy slogans?
Maybe because I was just an angry woman?
Or maybe because I started asking, ‘What can you REALLY do to help me and breast cancer?’
NFL players, big companies, and men can’t stop breast cancer from happening. It’s out of their control.
They can’t play a role in diagnosing it or curing it.
They can talk about it, which is important, but would they be talking about it if it were our lungs or our skin? Or is it just fun to talk about because boobs are sexy?
Perhaps we should all agree to value and appreciate the LIVES of women. To treat women with dignity and respect. To value her as a human, not as an object.
During those 6 weeks, I felt out of control and all I saw were people and companies enjoying talking about me as if I were an object, something to be loved based on the 2 things on my chest.
But what about the 1 in 4 women who are victims of Domestic Violence? The women that are hurt, tortured, and abused by the very men that are worried about the tatas. He has control over his actions towards women. He can stop domestic violence. He can speak up for the women in his life and encourage the men around him to care about her life.
So, when faced with October, breast cancer awareness month, AND domestic violence awareness month, we see pink not purple. We see boobies, not ‘end DV’ shirts. We watch crucial catch commercials, not crucial ‘don’t hit her’ commercials. We see sexualized female bodies, not abused and beaten female bodies to bring awareness. We celebrate NFL players for their cute pink accessories, some of whom have been accused and convicted of domestic violence. And yet here we are…
Claiming to care about women like me. Claiming our lives matter.
But would my life matter if I didn’t have boobs? Would you like helping me and supporting a cause if it wasn’t about the parts on my body that turn you on? Would you get excited to support a cause that was truly about the lives of women if it meant facing yourself in the mirror and realizing you were part of the problem?
Women spend YEARS fighting. They fight and claw their way through breast cancer. They struggle, they cry, and they have pain and grief.
Cancer isn’t sexy.
Those 6 weeks of my life weren’t sexy.
They were scary and traumatic.
They were full of anger and doubt.
They called into question everything I thought about breast cancer awareness.
My LIFE matters.
HER life matters.
And if we are going to truly support the lives of women, we have to control the controllable, demand to be talked about as humans and not objects, and remind ourselves that we are more than boobs. We are fabulous humans with passionate souls full of goals and dreams we have yet to accomplish.
My six weeks of the unknown were nothing compared to lifetime battles women go through, but it taught me an important lesson…we need to save WOMEN, not tatas.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Danielle Hogle. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Danielle:
‘I was typing on a friend’s Facebook, ‘You’re so P-R-E-T…’ when I realized I was part of the problem. When did ‘pretty’ become the best compliment I could give?’: Woman urges ‘remind your friend she’s bold, brave, and inspiring’
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