The Ugly Truth About Breast Cancer Survivorship

I've been wanting to get something off my chest for a long time....besides breast cancer. There is a disturbing trend in the survivorship community of self-motivated breast cancer survivor "rock stars".
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35, I was devastated but took full accountability that I waited 8 months to see a doctor about my lump. Since my incompetent oncologist at that time made me feel that I only had a few years to live, I decided to embark full fledge on an awareness campaign, particularly in the African American community, so that no one else would have to endure a late stage diagnosis like me. My desire to save other women was my single motivating factor. If this could happen to me, this could happen to anyone.
Over the past 6 years, I have met some wonderful and inspiring survivors. Many of these women also share my desire to raise awareness and encourage healthy lifestyles and early detection. But there is a disturbing trend of survivors competing with each other through media interviews, books, promotions, etc. What started out as a sisterhood is turning into an all out battle for who is the "best" survivor!
Organizations are beginning to compete rather than align and in the end, patients and survivors are the one to feel the impact. Survivors become more vigilant in their own self promotion and the outreach and advocacy gets lost in the message. Some survivors turn their back on their own community and choose to assimiliate into social circles as if that defines success. The greatest form of self hatred is the constant need to surround yourself with others who don't even look like you.
I've proudly walked away from Board appointments and committee appointments when personal agendas and slanted views clouded the overall mission of saving lives and educating the public. I have ZERO interest in being in a clique of survivors who host cute little parties to make the society pages when the most underserved women are dying from breast cancer. If you aren't ready to hit the pavement or hit the "hood" to educate women about this disease, you can count my support out.
Breast cancer didn't make me a rock star. Breast cancer gave me a redefined purpose and a dose of reality. Reality that I was going to die someday and that I better make my time here count.


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