Cancer type, Pink-Washing, Uncategorized

The Color of Cancer

My middle son is running in a Sacramento fundraiser for ovarian cancer this morning. As I pinned his number to his back, I asked him if the “color” for ovarian cancer is black, since that’s the color of the shirt they gave him when he registered. He didn’t know.

So I googled it and it’s teal. Their slogan is “Never Give Up”.  A website called  allows you to “Shop By Cancer Color or Cancer Type” . This got me thinking about the competition between the cancer fundraisers, which in turn got me to thinking about the competition between people who have cancer.

There’s a tumor competition, a stage competition, a radiation competition, a lymph node competition, a mastectomy vs. lumpectomy, a chemo competition, and ultimately, a death competition. Ovarian cancer only has a death rate of  14, 240 (US) women per year, whereas breast cancer has a death rate of about 40, 000 per year.

People with cancer never actually acknowledge this unspoken competition (that would be too crass), but it exists. I met a woman the other day in my guitar class who is a survivor of breast cancer like me.  The first couple of questions are always about stage and treatment. She won.

My neighbor’s son had brain cancer when he was only 2-years-old. After extensive treatment he is finally clear. One day I asked this boy’s older brother about the camp he goes to every year for siblings or children of a family member with cancer, and he said,

“I don’t think Mason can go because you were only Stage 1”.

What the hell? Who told him that? I assume his mother did, so he wouldn’t worry about my cancer ?

The problem with all this competition is you can’t measure suffering. The winner is the person who suffers the most and does not die. What kind of competition from hell did I enter?

This is why I did not question my son for running for ovarian cancer.

He’s running, and the color does not matter.

Photo credit to: