Marketing campaigns designed to raise awareness around breast cancer and its symptoms have come under scrutiny in the past for their pretty pink veneer and occasionally patronising nature.
This time around, a sufferer of the disease has decided to fight back against fluffy social media slacktivism with a post of her own.
Erin Smith Chieze decided to share her story on Facebook, in retaliation to a “game” going round where people post a heart to supposedly raise awareness for breast cancer.
Someone once posted a picture on Facebook of what breast cancer can look like. Not feel, but look like. In December of 2015 when I saw an indentation that looked like one of those pictures, I instantly knew I had breast cancer.
Chieze was diagnosed with cancer five days later, and eventually found out it was terminal stage 4.
She writes that the picture helped her know to seek medical help:
A heart did nothing for awareness. I knew what breast cancer was. I knew all about self exams, but a picture of what to look for keyed me into knowing I had a terminal disease. We need to give REAL information, not cute hearts. Without having seen a picture randomly with real information, I wouldn't have known what to look for.
She warns people to only post about cancer if what they can post is helpful, as otherwise we risk desensitising people to it:
PLEASE, stop playing games that do not actually promote awareness, they often cause people to tune out anything that might even mention the word awareness.
Chieze shared a picture of 12 lemons, demonstrating 12 changes to the breast that can be caused by cancer.
They are: thick mass, indentation, skin erosion, redness of heat, new fluid, dimpling, bump, growing vein, retracted nipple, new shape/size, orange peel skin, and an invisible lump.
The image comes from Worldwide Breast Cancer’s Know Your Lemons campaign.