I didn't know how to title today's blog, but hope that you noticed the adjective ("fabulous") and will take a few moments to read this essay by Barbara Ehrenreich that was published in The Guardian in January of this year. If you know me, you know how I feel about the "cancer is a gift" pronouncements (I think cancer is never a gift) and the waves of pink that engulf us (hate them all). I admired and laughed my way through this and hope you do, too
Smile! You've got cancer
Cancer is not a problem or an illness - it's a gift. Or so Barbara Ehrenreich was told repeatedly after her diagnosis. But the positive thinkers are wrong, she says: sugar-coating illnesses can exact a dreadful cost
The first thing I discovered as I waded out into the relevant sites is that not everyone views the disease with horror and dread. Instead, the appropriate attitude is upbeat and even eagerly acquisitive. There is, I found, a significant market for all things breast cancer-related. You can dress in pink-beribboned sweatshirts, denim shirts, pyjamas, lingerie, aprons, shoelaces and socks; accessorise with pink rhinestone brooches, scarves, caps, earrings and bracelets; and brighten up your home with breast cancer candles, coffee mugs, wind chimes and night-lights. "Awareness" beats secrecy and stigma, of course, but I couldn't help noticing that the existential space in which a friend had earnestly advised me to "confront [my] mortality" bore a striking resemblance to a shopping centre.
This is not entirely a case of cynical merchants exploiting the sick. Some of the breast cancer accessories are made by breast cancer survivors themselves, and in most cases a portion of the sales goes to breast cancer research. It is also clear that the ultrafeminine theme of the breast cancer marketplace - the prominence, for example, of cosmetics and jewellery - could be understood as a response to the treatments' disastrous effects on one's looks. There is no doubt, though, that all the prettiness and pinkness is meant to inspire a positive outlook.
To read the whole thing (and please do so):