15 Sep 2014
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Patch Instagram photo by koonsford

Surviving Breast Cancer Awareness Month

One woman with Stage 4 breast cancer talks about how she navigates through the sea of pink.

Surviving Breast Cancer Awareness Month Surviving Breast Cancer Awareness Month

When Kay Campbell walked in and found her local grocery decked out in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, her stomach churned.

"I thought, 'I am not going to be able to shop in this grocery the entire month of October,'" Campbell said. "It’s just too much in my face."

Campbell, a Crofton resident, has metastatic breast cancer, which means the disease is considered Stage 4 and has metastasized or spread to other parts of her body.

"Only 2 percent of the money raised for breast cancer goes to Stage 4 research," Campbell said. "In my little world I understand that 30 percent of the women who do get breast cancer are going to metastasize and nobody talks about those women."

She doesn't fault stores or their employees for "thinking pink," but she and the other members of METAvivor, an Annapolis-based nonprofit, feel the fundraising largely ignores them.

Campbell said the "think pink movement" also largely ignores women with Stage 4 cancer in terms of support. She's known women who joined METAvivor after other breast cancer support groups asked them to leave when their cancer metastasized because they were "too depressing." 

"They want survivors," Campbell said. "I wanted people to hear the rest of the story."

So, the former Brooklyn Park Middle School librarian, decided to launch her own education campaign. She printed business cards with METAvivors' logo and new campaign slogan "The elephant in the pink room."

The card invites people to visit METAvivor's website to learn more about Stage 4 breast cancer, and the funding discrepancy between the percentage of women diagnosed as metastatic and the percentage of funding that goes to research.

Campbell returned to her pink grocery in Crofton armed with her cards.

A manager's voice came over the loudspeaker and started announcing donation amounts "to pink" from different registers, Campbell said.

"So, I very politely went up to the manager’s station and talked to the young lady for a minute," Campbell said. "I thanked her for her work, but asked, 'Could she take a look at this card and learn about the rest of the story that isn’t being told?'"

The manager took the card and promised to visit the website. A few days later, she gave another card to the cashier at her pharmacy who was wearing a pink ribbon scarf.

Campbell said she thinks the card is the perfect solution to her frustration with breast cancer awareness month.

"You can’t go into a lot of detail with a stranger," Campbell said.

The card is a small, simple way that Campbell can share her own feelings and her own story.

She's now passing them out all over town, and METAvivor has even uploaded the card's template to its website as "a new way to promote metastatic breast cancer awareness."

Campbell said she hopes the card encourages people to contemplate the companies or charities that they donate to and whether they actually use a significant percentage of their donations to help fight breast cancer.


To learn more about METAvivor or to make a donation, click here.


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