It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I am a little confused. Okay, I’m a guy, so maybe that helped. It started with one of those Internet Lists that websites love to put up because they get lots of clicks. This one was on MSN Health and was called:
“15 Worst Things You Can Say to Someone Battling Breast Cancer”
After clicking through it, it looked to me like most of the natural responses to finding out someone has breast cancer are off the table (admittedly, some were pretty rough). I figured the only thing left is to say nothing at all (as a guy, I feel like that is a very natural response). Unfortunately, #7 in the list is “Saying nothing at all.” I’m not sure that telling people how they express their concern offends you is the way to go, but it did get me thinking about Breast Cancer Awareness Month in general.
My problem is with the name. I’m okay with “breast” and “month,” but the rest?
The Simpsons once had an episode that cleverly poked fun at the idea of awareness of this or that. They had the Awareness Awards (for Awareness of course):
From The Simpsons episode “Behind the Laughter”
Bart: When Willie [Nelson] asked me to be a presenter at the New Awareness Awards, I had to think about it … for about a microsecond!
Marge: You just don’t say no to the redheaded stranger … and when I heard that it was for awareness, that sealed the deal!
But awareness in the social media age seems to be all about putting something, a cause or a product, in front of you early and often and then doing little else. That kind of messaging can lead to desensitization. It’s always there and so you tune it out. You wear your pink, you say your “Rah,” and you move on. We talk about breast cancer a lot, and that’s important, but I think it comes up short. Why? Because it doesn’t get the guys involved.
That’s right, guys are getting left behind. Remember, guys are great at tuning things out! Yes, we love our women and we want them to be happy and healthy, but we have prostates to worry about, and also our fantasy football team (mine is called “The Thunder Bums”).
All summer long the “Ice Bucket Challenge” took over the internet and the news. By the end of it all there were estimates of around 700,000 NEW donors to organizations taking on ALS. Of course, not everyone who took the challenge donated anything anywhere, but the challenge encouraged everyday people to participate in something, whether they were affected by ALS or not. And they participated. And a lot of them were guys. Why? Because the Ice Bucket Challenge has the word “challenge” in it. That’s what’s known as a “trigger” in the guy lexicon.
Here is my solution to this breast cancer awareness problem:
We should change the name to “Breast Cancer Action Month.”
Like “challenge,” guys also like the word “action” in things. Action Figures, Action News, Karate Chop Action, Action Jackson (that was a movie … an action movie!). It grabs our attention by letting us know that there will explosions and stuff.
Now when a woman takes here man out to a walk or a run for breast cancer, or even to go for a mammogram, and he asks, “Is this for awareness?” she can say, “No, it’s for ACTION.”
Ladies, once he hears that, he’s going to tell you he’ll be right back. Don’t question it, because he’s running to the gym to get into shape and he’s going to come back ripped and svelte and looking ten years younger (he may also be wearing an ammo belt), all so he can help you with the explosive action.
Don’t leave the guys behind in the fight against breast cancer. They just need something to do. Something with action.
And anyway, isn’t having someone by your side, ready to help you take on anything the world might throw at you, really the first step to a healthy life?