And While I’m At It, Who Even Uses the Word “Tatas??”

I’m going to ask you all to do something for me right now. I want you to pretend you were diagnosed with breast cancer. Chew on that for a bit. Think about it. Maybe you looked at your doctor and cried. Maybe you said What?? Because clearly you heard that wrong. Maybe you said nothing, but just stared at the person who delivered that news, feeling the burn of tears behind your eyes.

You drove home. Everything looked different. What was once familiar, comfortable, was now a fun house, mocking what used to be normal.  Has the Starbucks always been so green? Is the drive into my neighborhood always this long? I guarantee you thought about how to tell your family and friends. Some of you called someone on the way home, some of you waited until you had a plan, a grasp, a foothold.

Think about how you told your kids. Did you sit them down on the couch for a family meeting? Did you go to your favorite restaurant? Or did you say, Hey kiddo, I want to talk to you about something in the middle of play-doh or a video game. Your child, your sweet, sweet child, unable to meet your eyes, asked, “Mom, are you going to die?” And you said, No, baby, and wrapped your child in a hug … while silently asking yourself Oh God, Am I?

You treated. Radiation, chemotherapy, hours and hours in a clinic, waiting for tests and results and Please let me live on repeat in your brain. You cleaned up your diet, you bought a wig, you bargained with God.

Some of you died. Some of you said goodbye to everything you know and love and hold dear. You left big, gaping holes in the hearts of those around you. You are now a crinkled photo in a wallet, a bedtime song, a memory.

Most of you, thank God, lived. You’re not the same, but you’re alive, and for this, you are unbelievably grateful. Sometimes you stand topless in front of the mirror and think about what you went through. You pray for the word recovery because you really don’t think you could do it again. But you know, without a doubt, that you will if you have to. Those implants are saline, but they might as well be made of steel.

Reader, are you still with me here? This is not pink and pretty. This is a real person. This is about 300,000 real people this year.

When I see SAVE THE TATAS, my stomach hurts. When breast cancer is reduced to “boobies” and “hooters” and sexualized Facebook games, I want to shout STOP IT. Just please stop it.

When I was deciding whether to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, I did not spend time soul-searching about my tatas. My sister, my dad, my umpteen friends did not carefully consider and select treatment options for their boobies. Women do not sit their children down for a discussion of chemotherapy for their hooters. Whether we mean it or not, trivializing these struggles is offensive.

The intentions are good, I know, but there is a point where awareness efforts become so common that they lose all meaning. We are so “aware” of breast cancer and its pink ribbon that we are not really aware at all.

You might be saying, “Aw, Becca, chill out. Humor makes everything better.” You know I agree with that. But guys, there is a line between humor and minimizing breast cancer patients into a junior high school joke. And I think we’ve crossed that line.

Sincerely,
Becca

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Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, follow her on Instagram.

6 Comments

  1. Kristi gold

    Dammit. I’m crying the UGLY cry in the drive through to whataburger. Another wonderful piece. No wonder I love you. I don’t know how you do it! 😉 xoxoxo

    Reply
  2. btg5885

    Great post. When arguably, one of the most beautiful women in the world, Angelina Jolie, made her decision for surgery to save her life, it showed so many what matters most. Thanks for sharing your story as well. BTG

    Reply
  3. g man

    I see bumper stickers, pink shirts, bracelets, etc being sold in the name of raising money for breast cancer research. Yes, most of them say boobies, tatas, hooters and the like. Would you like that to stop? Would you like people to slow down on giving money towards research? If you would then just focus on the severity and tragedy of it all.

    Look, I understand that your post is about taking this more seriously as it affects real people, Your heart is in the right place. However, I assume that result you would like to see in the end is a healthy cured woman, right? I think its safe to say we all want that. But you have to be honest with yourself and how the human condition works for the average person. How likely are you to see someone wearing a shirt that says “Real women are being affected by breast cancer and you better take it more seriously.” Probably not many beyond the ones who have had cancer or a loved one affected by it. People don’t like to focus on their mortality and try to find coping methods. Humor is on the top as its the quickest and easiest way to deflect it all.

    Millions of dollars are being raised by these light hearted trinkets. I honestly don’t think that we would be better with out them while this very real disease is killing our loved ones! The “I love boobies” bracelets alone raised over a half of million dollars last year for breast cancer study. Thats just one area. For the sake of being less “Jr high” about it do you really want the funds to be stifled? Will a sobering approach be what gets us closer to a cure? I for one will allow the line to be crossed if the end result is my mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, daughter is treated more effectively from the funds raised by selling a silly bracelet that probably didn’t mean anymore to that kid than the word “boobies” printed on it. I’ll also continue to be grateful for every person who has taken on this disease with the upmost integrity to either fight through it, or cure it. Bottom line, we need everyone’s support not matter with the level of interest.

    Love and respect 🙂

    G.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Masterson

      THIS is a fantastic comment. Thank you!

      You and I are actually of the same opinion for the most part. Happy & hopeful raises more money. Absolutely. And amen to whatever raises the most money to fight any form of cancer.

      Where our opinions diverge is that I think “breast cancer awareness” has gone too far. I think the current awareness efforts are actually *hurting* fundraising for research. Humor is great…until you reach the point where the issue itself lacks seriousness. Depending on which site you look at, it looks like people are donating LESS money to breast cancer research because they are under the mistaken impression that breast cancer is not a threat any longer. That it’s under control.

      Did the word “tatas” alone do that? Of course not. But tatas and pink-washing and Komen’s missteps, combined, have. (Although I have to wonder why breast cancer is the only cancer that gets reduced to a body part. I never see “save the weenies” or “save those baby-making ovaries” – do you? But that’s another post…) My post was really meant just to be a bit of a reminder that there is a person, a real live person, attached to breasts. And that person, not the breasts, the person deserves every dollar of research.

      And of course, I chose not to “save my tatas.” I chose to remove them from my body to save my life. So yes, I cringe a little bit when I see the tacky words. It feels demeaning to me. Am I speaking for everyone? Absolutely not. But that’s the luxury of having a blog 🙂

      You are awesome. I love the respectful discourse. Thanks.

      Sincerely,
      Becca

      Reply
  4. Mama Waine

    I absolutely love this!
    Brilliantly written and I completely agree with you.
    Love your blog!

    Reply

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