Funny how bits of our culture take on a whole new meaning after you’ve had breast cancer. Take the iconic song, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the group Queen. I discovered the Muppets’ hilarious version of it on YouTube one day and posted it on Facebook, whereupon a number of my sistahs posted a variety of wry comments on how ironically meaningful the lyrics had become after having breast cancer:
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality.
Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see.
I’m just a poor [gal], I need no sympathy
Because it’s easy come, easy go,
Little high, little low,
Any way the wind blows
Doesn’t really matter to me,
I was getting dressed this morning, to go out and brave the 100-degree heat index to do a few errands, and I decided to wear a camisole with shorts so I wouldn’t sweat to death out there. And I couldn’t find my regular prosthesis. This happens more frequently than I’d like to admit, usually because I’m so sick of wearing it and the bra by the time I get home from work, that they are the first two things I fling off, along with my shoes, and I’m not always very tidy about where I fling them. So, I rummaged through my underwear drawer and found a silly item I’d forgotten I had, called a “cleavage cupcake,” sold for women who want to boost their natural assets. I’d bought it — well, them actually, because they came in a pair — while I was awaiting the arrival of my real prosthesis after surgery. It wasn’t exactly the right shape, but I shoved it in the hollow side of my bra anyway, laughing at how little difference it really made what I shoved in there — could have used a rolled up sock if I wanted to — because the only function it really served was to make me look “normal” and “symmetrical” and perhaps avoid a few distressed, intrusive double-takes while I was sashaying through CVS Pharmacy. When I got home, I took the above photo with my cell phone and added some Photoshop text, right before once again flinging the damn cupcake, along with the bra, onto the pile where my regular prosthesis is no doubt buried. And decided I really needed to finish this mostly pictorial post I’d started months ago about all the bloody nonsense out there, in the form of various fundraising and awareness efforts that try to sell the notion that somehow breast cancer is fun and sexy.
Is this the real life?
First, there are the teeshirts, so we can remind everyone that, really, the only important thing to remember about having cancer is our missing or altered body parts.
And if you’re not quite sure which body parts we’re referring to, here’s a photo of a little self-exam demonstration which will help you.
Then, there are the fundraising walks and races, where we can show off our spunk and sexiness, while raising money for organizations that promote awareness by selling chia pets, sports cars, and perfume.
Next, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the actual chia pets, a sports car, and the perfume, in case you were wondering if I was exaggerating. Oh, and a pink NASCAR racing outfit to go with Bobby Labonte’s #43 Susan G. Komen Dodge Charger; you could also get a collectable miniature of the car on race day to support “the Cure.”
Oh, and don’t worry. This little number on the left is only an accessory, not a fundraising item. And it’s available from a site called “Upscale Stripper,” so, you know, it’s not, like, totally trashy.
Then, there are the NFL players and cheerleaders, who’ve taken to wearing pink in October, none of whom, I’d wager, have probably ever had breast cancer.
Is this just fantasy?
And then, there’s my take on how to make breast cancer more sexy. With a few suggestions from my sister cancer rebels, I decided that if we really want to get the point across, we needed to update some of the icons of breast awareness and sexual exploitation that we already have.
First of all, let’s do something about those truck mudflaps.
Next, instead of those boring chemo-caps and hospital gowns, let’s just sex up the whole infusion process.
And finally, maybe we could get Sports Illustrated to publish a special issue in October.
And, really, I do think certain spokeswomen could jazz up their public image, don’t you? Heaven knows, I’ve tried to set an example.
Oh, and in case you’ve revisited this post, yes, I did update it — just a teeny bit. Next time I go to CVS, maybe I’ll wear my prosthesis on the outside. And take another picture…
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