When we were working on the concept for this shirt, Terry, the founder of the IBC Network Foundation, said to me;
There are 5,000 new cases of IBC each year. Wouldn't it be meaningful if we could get 5,000 of these shirts out there, sharing our message?
5,000 women (and men) who this year will hear the words, you have cancer.
A very aggressive cancer.
A cancer we know little about.
A cancer that is killing at a higher rate than other breast cancers.
....5,000. It's a big number to unpack.
5,000 is greater than the population of Breckinridge, Colorado (4,700).
It's about equal to the undergraduate populations of Yale (5,500) and Princeton (5,277).
And it's significantly less than the number of sailors on board the Naval carrier USS Stennis (6,500).
It's also an estimated number. Estimated because there is no unique medical code to distinguish Inflammatory Breast Cancer at the time of diagnosis.
5,000 new reasons each year to invest in research.
Invest. In. Research.
About 10 years ago I bought a "Save the Boobies" bracelet at Zumiez while my husband was picking out a watch. I look back and wonder how much of my $2 went towards breast cancer research. If any.
See, pink ribbons, like breasts themselves, are very marketable. And unless you've been living in a cave, you know that pink ribbon merchandise is a Goliath during the month of October.
For starters, there is no obligation to actually donate proceeds from the sale of "pink" merchandise to any breast cancer charity. This was the most shocking to me. That companies are literally just exploiting breast cancer "awareness" for profit.
And when proceeds do benefit a charity, there is no steadfast rule about how much of your donation directly benefits patients or research, opposed to how much goes to overhead, or, in some cases, fat CEO salaries.
There's also that sticky subject of awareness. There are cases where, in the interest of "awareness", donation dollars can be put back into merchandise that merely bears the name of a large charity.
Most awareness dollars are actually invested in campaigns for early detection.
Even a hefty portion of research dollars focuses on early detection.
So where does that leave me, as a woman with stage 4 IBC? Where does that leave any of my IBC sisters? The very nature of skin involvement in IBC means it is already stage 3B or higher when it is found. There are literally no cases of early detection with IBC. Zero. Zilch. And in fact, even late stage IBC is often missed by a mammogram.
So about all of those mammogram fliers that major breast cancer organizations are dumping money into??
This time of year I notice the statistics about how we've made improvement in the percentage of women surviving breast cancer. And its true. But the other side of that is that number of women who died last year of breast cancer--40,000--is the same as the prior year and the year before that and so on....
We're not helping less women die.
We are finding more breast cancer in very early and very treatable stages.
How about some dollars where it counts?
Research for late stage breast cancer or rare breast cancers including IBC. A cancer disproportionally striking young women. Women who are under the age recommended for a screening mammogram. Women just beginning their careers or starting their families. Women pregnant. Women breastfeeding. Raising toddlers. Women who are not thinking about cancer, and shouldn't have to.
5,000 this year.
Because of them, Research Matters.
When you get your shirt, be sure to share a photo on Social Media using #becauseresearchmatters
Your donation benefits the IBC Network Foundation, a grass roots, volunteer based charity sinking money into research like there's no tomorrow.
Because for some of us, research means the difference of having a tomorrow.