It Does Not Raise Any Awareness, I Swear

Post your bra color = raise awareness for breast cancer?

Post a sexually suggestive status about where you leave your purse = raise awareness for breast cancer??

Post another sexually suggestive status about your shoe size = raise more awareness for breast cancer?

Fake a pregnancy = raise even more awareness for breast cancer? 
Alright, ladies, enough. These shenanigans have gone too far. At this point, my original argument that these posts do nothing to help raise any awareness, is now being solidified ten fold. Posting some random, sexual status, purposely excluding men (who also can and do get breast cancer) does not, and will never raise awareness for breast cancer. Wanna raise awareness for cancer? Go find a site that supports breast cancer research, and post the link. Or run in a marathon. Or write a blog about how breast cancer has impacted your life. My point is this: Actually go and raise awareness by doing something other then pretending to raise awareness with a silly, silly game on Facebook. 
Furthermore, next month, October, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. Did you know that 1 in 3 pregnancies end in loss?  Did you know that 1 in every 148 babies are stillborn?  So now think about this: How many women do you have on your Facebook list?  Do the math. There is likely to be a couple of women or friends on your Facebook that have suffered some sort of pregnancy related loss. Some women, myself included, will have issues carrying babies full term.  Some women, like many women I know, will never be able to carry their own child because they suffer from infertility. Imagine, waking up one morning, and seeing all these women all over Facebook posting that they are pregnant. After a loss, or after multiple months or years of trying, it gets difficult to see pregnancy announcements. I remember having to hide people on Facebook when we were struggling after yet another miscarriage. It gets obnoxious, even when it’s real. This has nothing to do with being “bitter”- it has everything to do with the reality that losing a child, no matter the stage in pregnancy, is hard. It has everything to do with the fact that infertility is a heavy cross to bear, and it is painful, emotionally speaking.
Photo Credit: D.Barnsley

So, if seeing the posts about all the pregnancies wasn’t a slap in the face, finding out that these women were faking pregnancies? Oh, ouch. If only everyone was lucky enough to be naive enough to think that this would be good fun. I’ve watched excited congratulations on statuses; only then to have the poster quickly say that it was a game and they aren’t really pregnant. So the congratulator feels like an idiot. The poster gets to have a giggle at the expense of others who “fell” for it (or just didn’t get the message in their inbox). This doesn’t even include the people who say nothing; who watch as their news feed fills up with overwhelming pregnancies, and  then later log on to find it was a hoax. A giant hoax  all in the name of raising awareness…for what? Oh right, faking pregnancy for breast cancer. Gotcha. 
And, ironically, there is no mention of breast cancer. In fact, I’ve had several people admit they like confusing their family and friends. It’s not an actual advocacy case; it’s just a game where women pretend that they are sneaky and clever because we’re not telling everyone what our statuses mean. People do this all the time; in fact, I know a couple of people who have mastered the art of these types of statuses- generally we call this passive aggressive behavior.

Anyway, congratulations on your fake pregnancy; I’m not any more educated on breast cancer, and I hazard a guess, that neither are you. While “raising” awareness, you have also managed to ignorantly cause someone who has issues with pregnancy, be it loss, or conceiving, pain. Unintentionally, of course.

But it’s all in good fun, right?

I leave you with some awareness regarding Pregnancy and Infant Loss: 

48 thoughts on “It Does Not Raise Any Awareness, I Swear

  1. In my opinion, and i know I might get flamed for this, breast cancer awareness and research is all a big game. They raise money and sell pink shit all for “research.” no guaranteed cure, just research. Heart disease actually kills more women per year than breast cancer (this is a fact, check the CDC website) and I know there have been recent campaigns with little red dresses and stuff.

  2. Great point. All these facebook 'games' drive me nuts…and the the way 'friends' try to guilt you when you don't repost. Yeah, like I really don't care about cancer because I didn't copy a FB status.

    And the faking a pregnancy thing breaks my heart. Having dealt with loss, my heart breaks a little each time I see someone post their wonderful news. A mass pregnancy would make me drop off the radar for a while.

    Great post. Cheers.

  3. As someone who took tried for over a year to have a child as well as a mother in law who survived breast cancer and leukemia TWICE, I thank your your insight. Now, if only the stigma surrounding mental illness would go away. No offense to all other physical illness but to silence a voice because of ignorance, shame and fear is not fair. Those who deal with mental illness are the silent heroes. I believe the day will come when they are commended for their bravery. Just like those who suffer from other “socially acceptable” illnesses. We need to allow everyone to survive an illness without crushing their dignity:

  4. Wow! This is something that needed to be written and that needs to be read. I too have been struggling with multiple miscarriages. I feel your pain, your hurt, and your anger. I am sharing this!

  5. Great post! I have always been annoyed by those stupid status updates, but could never really articulate why. But you just did it perfectly! Thank you!

  6. I echo what was said above.
    An old friend of mine wrote that she was going to be a mommy. After hours and hours of people congratulating her, she wrote, I am getting a puppy guys! But all she wrote was that ” I am going to be a mommy!”
    My husband and I had a baby girl in June, and lost a baby last May. This girl was a close friend and helped me get through our loss (and had a loss of her own)
    People like this (whether they are doing it intentionally or not) bug me.
    Thank you for writing this post.

  7. Thank you for the post. I sincerely enjoyed reading it. Also, in response to Mama B, cancer research is not a game, I can assure you. I am a cancer cell biologist, and I take my role very seriously. You are right, there is no guaranteed cure yet, but that is preciously our goal. That being said, our work in academia is driven with public funds via the NIH and private foundations. The system is not perfect, and it does frustrate me on many occasions. However, it is the system we have in place, and we have to make the best of it. Having said that, all of us in academic science are extremely grateful for all the funding support that we can receive because it allows us to continue to work towards better understanding events such as signaling mechanisms at the cellular level, which, we hope, will lead to breakthroughs in cancer research, sooner rather than later. Only by continuously grinding it out, can we achieve more effective therapies and, eventually, a cure for all forms of cancer.

  8. Found your blog from a FB update posted by a friend. I saw those stupid updates on FB and had no idea what they meant…how upsetting. I had two failed pregnancies (an ectopic and miscarriage), I find nothing amusing about this. Good post.

  9. yes, yes, yes. i am so in agreement about actually DOING something to support a cause… not posting a goofy facebook post that means nothing & achieves nothing… & may even cause others pain. sigh.

  10. I have had miscarriages, live births and currently am battling breast cancer. I found this blog through a FB link, as have many others. It is my opinion that “games” like this raise awareness by making people like you write blogs about breast cancer and causing debate like that which I have read above. I have friends too who have suffered with infertility, and they find joy in others success. Bitterness, yes. I think you are reading way too much into this and personalizing it unnecessarily. It will disappear in a few days. You know what it means, and to take it beyond that is just too much. Everyone is a critic. If you want to spread the cause of infertility and/or infant mortality, do it. And if Mama B wants to fight for Heart Disease- no one is stopping her. I fight for mental illness and against homophobia. Millions have joined those causes on FB, and that of the Breast Cancer movement. It only starts with one person. Don't bash someone else's cause and efforts. Start your own and do it the way you choose.

  11. njdespres- I find it hard to believe that you think that equating a fake pregnancy raises awareness for breast cancer? Have you ever seen these meme's they pass around? The ones that say it's to raise awareness, but we shouldn't tell anyone what we are doing, only woman should be involved (when, like I point out, men CAN get breast cancer), and really want to have a good laugh at confusing people? That raises awareness? I'm sorry, but I think that's just a silly schoolyard game.

    Want to raise awareness? Post a link to a relevant site that addresses issues. Run a marathon for your cause. Write a blog post about your cause.

    This is no ones cause. This is a silly meme that makes people “feel” like they are doing something to help with a disease that actually kills people. You are the first person with cancer today to say that they like, and feel they benefit from the meme's that are on facebook.

    I've said it already today; but the only reason it's getting “awareness” is because I've had the guts to say how silly the whole meme is in the first place. We have had no conversations about breast cancer and how to help, or how to stop it or how to donate. Just a conversation about how silly and unhelpful those pieces are on facebook.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I am a survivor and I think what angers me is that many, many, manufactures etc have realized that if they slap a pink ribbon it, manufacture the item in pink and say proceeds to assist with breast cancer research or awareness; hordes of people will buy the product thinking they are doing a good thing without knowing or being able to find out exactly how much money is being donated and to where.
    I also agree that about the only way I can see those silly games and posts raising awareness and debate it when some one such as you raises these types of questions and commentary.

  13. While I understand the author's opinion, I have to say that this little game reminds me to set up my mammogram every year. Also, when my male friends make little comments because they are intrigued I fill them in and they are reminded of a cause that is larger than the upcoming football season or baseball playoffs. Silly little games often assist in keeping conversations open. It is one of the reasons we play board games at home.
    I can of course understand you reaction. People who are interested in a cause can find many many ways to promote a cause and raise money. Here's the thing, I like so many other women out there find that my time is filled to the brim. I volunteer, I am the chairperson of a foundation, I'm a mom, a wife, the CEO of my household. I for one am grateful for these silly little facebook games. They are a fun reminder for a serious topic and I find it helpful every year.

  14. Research for Breast Cancer is important, however, what's going on is just plain awful.
    I agree with the person who mentioned heart disease in women. Heart Disease is the invisible killer. You can't tell who is a heart attack survivor with a head scarf, or due to a missing breast, so it is being ignored. There needs to be more insight into the symptoms and repercussions of this killer in women…. it is different than that of men.

  15. This post says exactly what I have been thinking and more! You have made me think about not only the cause but also how different women may feel about the way the cause is supposedly being supported on Facebook through those weird posts. I have never understood why it is supposed to raise awareness. To me those posts are just the same as status updates that say “another bad day” or “this sucks” or “I can't believe what just happened.” For me personally, none of these statements do anything but make me feel frustrated and confused. So I was really glad to read what you wrote here about those FB updates, but then you took it one step further and made me think about how they may affect women differently. Thank you for opening my eyes and making me understand something better :) Fantastic post!

  16. Just found your blog and this post couldn't be anymore true. I do not log into facebook anymore b/c I was almost in tears when I saw someone say they were so and so weeks and craved whatever. This person had just had a baby a couple months ago and has several kids already. I was sick to my stomach b/c I have to hear about people being pregnant all the time b/c I have a very fertile family. But thank you for writing this.

  17. I fully agree with you. The reason it truly upsets me to see all this empty “awareness” is that some of us do spend an awful lot of time raising REAL AWARENESS about our very obscured, pushed aside, and ignored, chronic health conditions that are not so much “in vogue,” so people aren't interested… And omg, I also relate to you in that my husband's father passed away from breast cancer, so I find this “excluding men” games VERY OFFENSIVE! If anything, they give the wrong idea that men don't get breast cancer, somehow. I am so sick of it, and I wish my Facebook friends were a little smarter, sometimes.

  18. Thank you for writing this post. I am no stranger to loss, whether it is my own, a friend or a family member. How is that not personal? I can almost promise that every person who comments here has been affected by infertility directly or indirectly.

    A ridiculous Facebook status claiming to be pregnant doesn't raise awareness for breast cancer, it causes you to be added to the ignore this post list on many of your friends who are struggling with infertility.

    Just like there is nothing insignificant about breast cancer, there is nothing insignificant about infertility either.

    Yes, breast cancer is a horrible thing. But so are many other things, and we don't have silly Facebook games to create awareness for them.

    I'd like to add another site to your blog roll, which you may already know about. It's called Faces of Loss and was started by a dear friend of mine whose daughter was born still at 26 weeks. Grab your tissues.


  19. very well written. I can't stand those statuses either. My heart goes out to each and every woman who is faced with infertility or has trouble getting pregnant.


  20. I just hate when people do this. I am ACTUALLY pregnant and have put nothing on FB and forbidden it to be mentioned there, because after years of infertility I remember well how I would hide post after post of happy pregnancy news because it was a knife in my heart. People are stupid.

  21. Most excellent post.

    Interestingly enough a good friend of mine works for the Canadian Breast Cancer Society. She and I were talking about this status updates once, she said they do more harm than good purely because the message of awareness is convoluted by a silly game. She's all for awareness, obviously, but things like these don't create awareness only confusion.

    Also she pointed out these things seem to always happen in the wrong month.

  22. Now post this link in your status to raise awareness of pointless statuses that have no relevance in regards to making you aware of something completely unrelated to the thing you need to be aware of!

    Great article

  23. Thank you for this post. My partner and I have been trying for almost 2 years for a baby. Our first pregnancy ended in miscarraige last summer. I completely understand how hard it is to read all about pregnancies of those you know. To try and to be happy for them whilst yoou crumble inside. The thought of someone claiming they are pregnant for a hoax is just awful.
    I completely agree that if people want to raise awareness then there are small ways to do so that are thousands of times better than a silly Facebook status.

  24. This is an awesome post, and I'll be sharing on my Facebook page, as I am over-run with these “It's that time again…” emails. I never thought of the implications towards women with fertility issues but I will add that to the list of reasons I REFUSE to participate in these ridiculous memes!

  25. I saw your post on BlogHer and I shared the link on my FB just so these ladies would STOP and THINK before participating in silly games that they have no full concept of what it means to other women. I really don't think it helps at all. There are more ways to 'raise awareness' than these. Thank you for voicing this out and for making me realize I wasn't the only one that thinks that 'game' was distasteful.

  26. Thank you for this post! I saw your post on the BlogHer website and I just wanted to comment. I had just had a miscarriage the week all this craziness started (it was my first pregnancy). On top of that, two MORE people I know on facebook announced their actual pregnancies!! It has been an emotional roller coaster anyways and then to have people making fun of being pregnant when the thing I wish the most is that I could have actually made the real announcement is very painful and hurtful. I know they do not mean it, but PLEASE be aware of those who see your statuses! Thank you again for this post!

  27. I read this with interest. These games are new to me, since I've somehow managed to sidestep the Facebook train altogether. As someone who lost a pregnancy and is still trying to get pregnant again nearly a year later, I can guarantee that waking up one morning to a slew of fake pregnancy announcements would have been painful. Thanks for confirming what I already knew: Facebook isn't for me.

  28. Totally agree – thank you! As one of those women longing to have a child, those posts were quite annoying and hurtful, though I'm sure they didn't realize it. Thank you for putting into words what I've been feeling towards the topic! God bless+

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    topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally folks don't talk about these issues. To the next! All the best!!
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