A couple of years ago, around this time of year, women friends started posting on facebook, apropos nothing - what was it? A colour? A dessert? I can't remember. I think it was the colour of their underwear. Last year it was sentences along the lines of: I'm going to Thailand for 7 months; or I'm moving to NY for a year! It was a code for their birthday date.
As a woman, all I had to do was ask and I was let in on the big secret joke of a game. This year I was put on people's mailing lists via fb messages. There's a code and we have to write our information/preference according to the coded key. The result is an X number of women posting the name of a football team or an item of clothing (for example and without giving the exact instructions away so as not to spoil the game).
Why? Well exactly. Apparently it is to raise awareness of breast cancer. Obviously that is a good thing and we have wonderful innovations like Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. During this month campaigners and educators take the opportunity to raise money and educate the general public about this devastating disease which can affect anyone (I've even heard of a few men getting it) and seems to be on the increase (although, thankfully treatments have become more effective over the years and survival rates are much better than they once were).
Other worthy events and publicity include fundraisers and sponsoring for either research, treatment, care or support. There are articles in print and online, and interviews on TV and radio to: inform people of the dangers, the symptoms, the tests available, the treatments available, the care available, give hope, give support. All of this I understand and I applaud.
What I don't get is how this game, which is essentially a joke on the men, raises cancer awareness. The letter I got said that the game reached TV last year and they hope to do the same this year. And of course, I'm writing about it now - so that's more exposure. But what does this achieve? Is there anyone not aware of the existance of Breast Cancer?
And I don't like this exclusion of men. It's true that men don't usually get breast cancer but try telling any man whose wife has suffered it that he doesn't understand. Us women don't get prostate cancer, men don't get cancer of the uterus or cervix. Nobody don't get a 'get-out-of-cancer-free card'. Oncologists are both male and female.
I know it's a 'game' and maybe I should lighten up. The trouble is, I just don't get it. More than that, I can't see the joke. And surely the surprise element has worn thin after three years of the similar? If you want to play a game let's play a game - I'm the first person to join in with a bit of fun. Cancer, in any form, isn't a game. It isn't jolly good fun for us women to share and have a laugh about. It's cancer.