Terry Arnold was diagnosed with a right inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) in August 2007 and a left contralateral tumor soon after. She underwent weeks of chemotherapy, radiation treatment and eventually a double mastectomy. She completed treatment in June 2008 and has been an IBC ambassador and advocate since.
The messages tend to start like this:
OK, ladies, it's that time of year again: Breast cancer awareness! We all remember last year's game, wanting you to answer the question, "Where do you leave your purse at night?" as your Facebook status.
Well, this year it's slightly different.
You need to write your shoe size (just the number) followed by the word 'inches' and then a sad face.
Remember, last year so many people took part that it made national news. The constant updating of status reminded everyone why we're doing this and helped raise awareness!
Do NOT tell any males what the status means; 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! Go on, ladies! Together we can make a difference! The game starts today, so put up your post and leave it up for 48 hours.
But who wins?
Every year, when those breast cancer awareness games start making the rounds, I just cringe.
Why, you ask? It's fun, lighthearted and seems like it raises awareness. But does it really?
I'm the first to agree that a dose of humor can be good medicine. When facing a serious and/or potentially deadly illness, laughter is a way to start the coping process, release stress and is a means to (literally) laugh in the face of danger.
However, to say games like this raise awareness and education about breast cancer, a serious disease that affects millions of women in the United States alone, no, I don't think so.
So here's a response that I send out each year:
You might hate me, but here it goes.
This was written by my wonderful daughter, Natalie Arneson:
Make it real OK, here's the deal. It's all well and good to play a game and make sexy jokes if you think that's funny. Fine. I support your right to do that.
But if you're really interested in raising breast cancer awareness, I have a suggestion. Instead of making a sexual joke about where you keep your purse, post as your status who in your life has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Let's make this real and personal. Because while it's great to keep spirits alive with a joke or two, there's nothing funny about breast cancer.
It's real. And it's definitely personal.
I'll start. Please share this with your friends. Let's celebrate the women in our lives who have beat it and who continue to battle it, and honor the memory of those who fought to the end."
Once a soldier, always a soldier
Cancer is a wicked foe and not to be taken lightly. Tens of thousands of viewers gained a deeper understanding of life post-breast cancer by viewing "The Scar Project," an art display depicting young women post-mastectomy.
The beauty of these women, in victory over pain, disease and loss, is one of the most moving of all visual presentations I have even seen.
So, inspired by "The Scar Project," and since this year's silly game is about inches, let me tell you what my Facebook status would be:
Eight inches, times two.
Not my shoe size, but the length of the scar on my chest where my breast used to be.
Times two, because both of my breasts had cancer.
There's no sad face to follow in the post because I am happy, healthy and fighting alongside my sisters in the battle. Because "once a solider, always a solider" seems to be true for breast cancer survivors, as well as military personal.
I love a good laugh, but if we really want to do something about breast cancer, then do something -- fund research, volunteer or just love someone with cancer. Let's show our power by fighting in memory of the women lost and for the future, so others will not have to walk this road called cancer.