Tis the season for silly breast cancer games…the messages tend to start like this:

Ok ladies it’s that time of year again, breast cancer awareness!! So we all remember last years’ game posting wanting you to answer the question “Where do you leave your purse at night?” as your status!….. Well this year, it’s slightly different. You need to write your shoe size (just the number) followed by the word ‘inches’ and then sad face.  Remember last year so many people took part it made national news and the constant updating of status reminded everyone why we’re doing this and helped raise awareness!! Do NOT tell any males what the status means, keep them guessing!! And please copy and paste (in a message) this to all your female friends to see if we can make a bigger fuss this year than last year!!! Go on ladies…….. together we can make a difference!!!!  The game starts today and leave up for 48 hours……….

Each year when those breast cancer awareness games started making the rounds, I just cringed.  Why, you might ask, it is fun, light hearted and it raises awareness.  Really?  Does it?   I will be the first to agree a dose of humor can be good medicine and in facing a serious and/or possibly deadly illness, laughter offers a way to start the coping progress, releasing stress and a means to literally laugh in the face of danger.  However to say games like this raise awareness and education on breast cancer, a serious disease that impacts millions of women in the US alone, no, I don’t think so.  So here is my response that I send out each year,

Terry Arnold with her daughter Natalie Arneson, with son Julian.  Terry Arnold with her daughter Natalie Arneson, with son Julian.

OK, you might hate me….but here it goes….

Written by my wonderful daughter Natalie Arneson
from Natalie

Ok, here’s the deal. It’s all well and good to play a game and make sexy jokes if you think that’s funny. Fine. I support your right to do that. But if you’re really interested in raising breast cancer awareness, I have a suggestion. Instead of making a sexual joke about where you keep your purse, post as your status who in your life has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Let’s make this real. And personal. Because while it’s great to keep spirits alive with a joke or two, there’s nothing funny about breast cancer. It’s real.

And it’s definitely personal.
I’ll start. Please share this with your friends. Let’s celebrate the women in our lives who have beat it, who continue to battle it, and honor the memory of those who fought to the end.  Natalie.

Cancer is a wicked foe and not to be taken lightly.  Tens of thousands of viewers gained a deeper understanding of life post breast cancer by viewing “The Scar Project”, a wonderful art display depicting young women post mastectomy.  The beauty of these women, in victory over pain, disease and loss, is one of the most moving of all visual presentations I have even seen.  So, inspired by “The Scar Project” and since this years’ silly game is about inches, let me tell you what my status would be…8 inches, times two.   Not my shoe size, but the length of the scar on my chest were my breast used to be.  Times two, because both of my breasts had cancer.  No sad face to follow in the post because I am happy, healthy and fighting alongside my sisters in the battle, because “once a solider always a solider” seems to be true for breast cancer survivors as well as military personal.

Believe me when I write I love a good laugh, but if we really what to do something about breast cancer, then do something- fund research, volunteer, or just love someone with cancer.  Let’s show our power by fighting in memory of the women lost and for the future, so others will not have to walk this road called cancer.

All the best to you in your fight.

Terry Arnold
Inflammatory Breast Cancer, triple neg, class of 2007

Published in edited form MD Anderson Cancerwise Sept. 2011 

A follow up post on cancer games, if this topic interests  you, please click here.

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