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My reason: What is awareness?

by on March 19, 2012

Last week, Marcy shared the story of how she came to our blogging adventure. Today, I’ll be sharing mine. I warn you – my path to this blog is a bit like my writing style: more of a Sunday drive than an express train.

I’ve been drawn to cancer-related causes since college. In particular, I participated in many events related to breast cancer awareness as a member of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA). In the years since graduation, my perspective has broadened. I lost my mother to colorectal cancer in 2006. At that time, I began to think about the meaning of awareness. What does it mean to increase awareness? At what point is society aware enough?  Is it ever?

I’ll be the first to agree that the campaign to increase breast cancer awareness was needed. Before I joined ZTA (over a decade ago), I didn’t know much about the need for monthly self-exams and methods of early detection.  I applaud the movement to increase awareness of that disease. It has been an effective campaign. It seems that everywhere I turn, I see pink.

When I lost my mom, I began to look at things differently. I often heard about breast cancer awareness, but I rarely heard about other types of cancer. At the time, I didn’t act on that thought, but it has been lurking in the back of my mind ever since. The thought would occasionally resurface, especially as I saw other friends and family members battle various types of cancer over the years.

Fast forward to February 2012… the Komen controversy erupts.  It’s all over the news and a frequent topic of discussion. As a ZTA alumna, I began to wonder what the Zeta Tau Alpha Foundation’s (ZTAF) official response would be and found myself growing more uncomfortable about the relationship between the two organizations. Regardless of how I felt about the politics involved, the whole fiasco made me begin to ask questions. I didn’t really like the answers. (In addition, I learned that Komen has admitted that its focus has shifted away from education – a pretty solid argument for raising awareness elsewhere, in my opinion.)

Anyway… Marcy posted on Facebook that in light of Komen’s bad press, she felt compelled to start a campaign to ask the ZTAF to change the official philanthropy to ovarian cancer awareness. I commented on that status update, and we began to discuss how to approach that sort of campaign. A blog seemed the natural place to start, and the rest is history…

As Marcy noted in our first post, our focus is broader than just the ZTAF. Our primary goal is promoting ovarian cancer awareness.  Campaigning the ZTAF to change or add ovarian cancer awareness as a philanthropy is a secondary goal. While discussing the blog concept with Marcy, I began to realize just how little I knew about the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer has often been referred to as a whisper. It is for that reason that increasing awareness is so necessary – we need to know what to listen for.

I learned about breast cancer from ZTA almost fifteen years ago. Much has changed since then, and awareness of breast cancer has increased exponentially. It’s time to take that energy and do the same for ovarian cancer. Years from now, I hope that someone else will be asking, “Aren’t we all aware of ovarian cancer now?”



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  1. What a great cause AJ! I work as a cancer registrar and it’s great to see how far the awareness and treatment for breast cancer has come. It’s wonderful that you would like to do the same for ovarian. Good luck!

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  1. How do we make teal the new pink? « Sisterhood of the Whispering Crowns

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