Had not my NFL teams appeared in pink shoes and pink chin straps and pink hand towels and pink trim on their hats, I might not have asked, “why?” and then might not have learned that, apparently, breast cancer is a really big deal. At least this month. So far as popularity goes, it appears breast cancer has got leukemia, lung, colon–essentially all other cancers–beat hands down. It has its own month for christ’s sake.
And why not? Its risk factors include gender (female), age (the older, the greater risk) the age at which the first baby was born (the older, the riskier) the number of babies (one or fewer are the riskiest) and race (whites get it at higher rates than any other).
Who but older white females that either had no babies, or waited until late in life to devote more time to their careers, are better positioned to make their (or their sisters’) cancer struggles a cause celebre? The NFL must be trying to do its male fans a favor, by showing to their spouses how sensitive it is towards the plight of women struggling with breast cancer so they can then say, “See, the NFL cares about your concerns, honey, now would you please just shut up and let me watch the game?”
About 200,000 in the US are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, with about 40,000 dying from it. It is the second most common cancer killer among women in the US, except for Hispanics, for whom it is first. Lung cancer is the most deadly cancer among non-Hispanic women. But I get it–lung cancer has that nasty smoking implication, and men get it too, so it wouldn’t do to make such a fuss over it. And forget about malaria, which kills about a million a year. That happens in those dark countries in the rump of Africa, not here.
But really, is there anyone left in the US that doesn’t know about breast cancer? Could there possibly be any more resources effectively deployed in researching its treatment and cure? If everyone doesn’t die from breast cancer that gets it, doesn’t that imply there is something of a cure already in place?
Yet everyone needs to get on the breast cancer treatment and cure bus now. Sort of like everyone needed to wear one of those silly bracelets Lance Armstrong was peddling a few years ago, as he became the nation’s darling cancer survivor. Even if testicular cancer is several times more common in cyclists than in the general population. It seems that having cancer defines you. That’s odd to me. My son has battled leukemia twice in his young life (at ages seven and fifteen), and neither time did it come to define him or the family. It was just something to deal with, and hopefully, be done with. I like it better that way. No bracelets, pink or yellow or otherwise for me. I rather prefer ignoring cancer so far as possible. Life is short and uncertain, breast cancer, testicular cancer, leukemia or not. But if pretending to acknowledge breast cancer through the auspices of my favorite sports league allows me to watch a game in peace, I reckon I’ll just roll with it.
I got the stats from here: