Friday, September 2, 2011

Facebook and Breast Cancer Awareness

I don't usually use my blog as a soapbox, but I have just got to say something.

Those of you who have Facebook and check it regularly may have noticed (and possibly participated) in a little game that is going around right now. You may have seen several people post status updates like "I'm 10 weeks and craving gummy bears!" followed by several comments of people surprised at a previously unannounced pregnancy.

The catch? These people aren't pregnant. A message gets sent around with instructions not to tell "the guys" to keep them guessing. You use your birth month as a certain number of weeks and what you're "craving" depends on your birthday.

And, of course, this is all for breast cancer awareness, don't you know?

Perhaps this is tacky of me, but the best internet expression I can come up with on this occasion is: WTF?

I have hated these stupid games from the beginning (and honestly, I hate pretty much any and all copy/paste status updates). What on EARTH does a FAKE pregnancy have to do with breast cancer awareness? Should I be grateful that at least this time around, the status update isn't full of sexual innuendo, like previous ones have been? (One update was: [your shoe size] inches, [how long it takes you to get ready in the morning]. Another was "I like it [where you leave your purse]". You get the picture.) I pretty much ignored them with a sigh and a hefty eye roll.

But this one has me fuming.

Although we've been blessed with a child and another on the way, I struggled with "unexplained infertility" for 2 years before getting pregnant. A comparably short period of time when considering the long and difficult journey many couples face. I have friends who struggle with miscarriages, friends who struggle to conceive, and family that has endured unimaginable losses.

I remember when I got pregnant with Amy being nervous to tell my best friend because she had recently miscarried. I was afraid that my announcement would rub it in her face. I put it off for as long as I could because I didn't want to hurt her. I was concerned for her feelings, because I love her.

This game with status updates takes no feelings into consideration. It ignores the thousands of women who struggle with infertility and who feel a sting every time a pregnancy is announced. It expects women to remain silent or to offer difficult congratulations while they ache to have their own child, while they wonder "Why her and not me?" It disregards the number of women who, because OF cancer and related treatments, may now be facing infertility.

Breast cancer awareness is important. It is a worthy cause. It does not deserve to have such a despicable game attached to its name.

Raise awareness by actually TALKING about breast cancer. Raise awareness by joining in campaigns that make sense and actually spread information. Raise awareness by donating your time or money to the Komen Foundation. Raise awareness by helping to care for those who suffer from cancer. Raise awareness by actually DOING something, rather than copying and pasting a cryptic, hurtful, nonsensical status update on Facebook.

This woman wrote a fantastic post on the subject, and I encourage everyone to read it:

Edited to add: Here's a copy of the actual message going around (the US version; the UK version has different candy):

Ok pretty ladies, it's that time of year again, in support of breast cancer awareness!! Remember last year so many people took part that 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' mean, 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!!! I did my part... now YOUR turn!

The idea is to choose the month you were born and the day you were born. Pass this on to the girls only and lets see how far it reaches around. The last one about the bra went round allovr the world. So you'll write... I'm (your birth month) weeks and I'm craving (your birth date)!!! as your status.

  • Example: Feb 14th= I'm 2 weeks and craving Choclolate mints!!


    Days of the month: 1-Skittles 2-Starburst 3-Kit-Kat 4-M&M's 5-Galaxy 6-Crunchie 7-Dairy Milk 8-Lollipop 9-Peanut Butter Cups 10-Meat Balls 11-Twizzlers 12-Bubble Gum 13-Hershey's Kisses 14-Chocolate Mints 15-Twix 16-Resse's Fastbreak 17-Fudge 18-Cherry Jello 19-Milkyway 20-Pickels 21-Creme Eggs 22-Skittles 23-Gummy Bears 24-Gummy Worms 25-Strawberry Pop Tarts 26-Starburst 27-Mini Eggs 28-Kit-Kat Chunkie 29-Double Chocolate Chip Chrunchy Cookies 30-Smarties 31-Chocolate Cake.


  1. I have to agree with you about the status updates in general. They are a stupid little game that people are passing along under the premise of awareness - but how does being secretive about any of it make anyone aware of the cause? All I ever saw of any of them was that it was a stupid meme going around. I didn't know that it was supposed to be for Breast Cancer Awareness until I had to Google when the 2nd or 3rd meme made its rounds to figure out what was going on.

    Does this latest one actually use the premise of Breast Cancer Awareness? I have seen a few people post the status, but knew that it was this same stupid meme (since one cousin that posted it was quite obviously not 18 weeks pregnant since the week before she was commenting how after dealing with her 2 kids and her brother's 2 kids for the night she was glad that she wasn't having anymore), so I never bothered to ask anyone what it was about (and only saw what was copied recently into a facebook group showing the methodology for the posting).

    While I admittedly did not look at it from the perspective of those who may have had trouble conceiving, I have absolutely questioned why they use the pretense of being for Breast Cancer Awareness and 100% agree that there are better ways to increase breast cancer awareness than memes that make you go "huh?".

  2. Mama, I edited my original post to include the text of the message I received.

  3. Thanks!

    Yeah, the version I saw didn't have the first paragraph there.

    And thanks for the link to the other story, I just read it and it was a fantastic post about why this is such a crap thing (and under such poorly thought pretenses). I plan on sharing the linked post on FB when I get to a computer that has FB access.

  4. Oh man--this has made me furious as well!! I have several friends and family members who struggle with infertility. The bra color status that kicked this off was only slightly applicable - since then these little games have just been an annoying attempt to get attention. People obviously don't stop to think about how things like this can hurt and/or offend those around them.