Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Against the Tide

Last month, my girlfriend and I volunteered at “Against the Tide,” an inspiring swim/kayak/run event put on by the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition (MBCC). The people who swam, ran, and kayaked collected financial pledges totaling over $70,000!

It was my second year volunteering, and it is the only breast cancer-related fund-raising event I’ve participated in. I’m quite picky about which organizations I choose to support, and which events I’ll take part in. I greatly respect the MBCC’s work and mission – they define breast cancer as a political issue, challenge the commercialization of it, and focus on investigating and eradicating the environmental links to the disease. Check them out here.

The MBCC had many corporate sponsors for the event, such as natural foods stores, organic food companies, and organic/natural bodycare product companies. The MBCC would never partner with companies that profit from cancer, nor promote products that contain known or suspected carcinogens, unlike other anti-breast cancer organizations like the Susan G. Komen For the Cure foundation. The Komen Foundation is hypocritically selling a perfume, called “Promise Me,” which contains toxic chemicals. Go here to help Breast Cancer Action raise a stink about it!

My tasks at Against the Tide were to write the swimmers’ numbers (for identification and safety purposes) on their arms and legs with a big Sharpie marker….

….And then to enthusiastically ring the cowbell as the countdown to the race began!

I was inspired by everyone’s energy and dedication, and met many wonderful people.

There was a “mural of honor,” where people could honor loved ones who had been affected by breast cancer, by writing their names and stories and hanging them on the mural.

I wrote a couple names, and was touched by the message my girlfriend hung up for me. While I was looking at my name up on this mural of breast cancer survivors and victims, for a moment it seemed so strange and unreal – REALLY? I had breast cancer? My name belongs up here? Every now and then the absurdity of it washes over me and I find it hard to believe. Probably every woman who has been diagnosed feels like that. None of us should have to have our names up there or be a member of this club. And so, we keep trying our damndest to prevent other women from developing breast cancer!