By Holly Bertone is CEO & President of Pink Fortitude.
This has been weighing heavy on my heart since the story went viral in the cancer community. Kerry Harvey, 25, the star of a UK pancreatic cancer awareness campaign said, “I wish I had breast cancer.” She only has several months to live, and has been bombarded with outrage from all over the world, including death threats. The goal of the commercial was to raise awareness and money for research for a very deadly form of cancer that does not get a lot of attention.
As a breast cancer survivor, I do agree that this ad may appear insensitive to fellow breast cancer survivors, and anyone who has had their lives devastated by breast cancer is certainly entitled to be upset. If you have lost a loved one to breast cancer or if you have breast cancer, those six words spoken by Ms. Harvey are certainly ones you don’t want to hear. But hear me out. No cancer is good. None of them. I wouldn’t wish any cancer on anyone. From what I understand, pancreatic cancer is one of the most painful forms of cancer, combined with a high mortality rate. If you had pancreatic cancer, would you wish for an alternative? If you had pancreatic cancer and only months to live, would you sit around and stew in your own misery? Or would you have the courage to stand up and fight like Ms. Harvey?
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, a dear friend who was going through treatment for ovarian cancer made a similar comment. She said that breast cancer was like the popular cancer sorority to be in because of all of the pink and awareness and campaigns. She said that all of the other cancers take a back seat to breast cancer when it comes to research and money and awareness. There is a lot of truth to what she said, however when I was bald, missing part of my breast and going through early menopause, I certainly did not feel like a popular sorority girl. But because of all of the awareness and research given to breast cancer, I am alive today.
God blessed me with an early stage and non-aggressive form of breast cancer. Because of my cancer, I have total clarity in life with what I am going to do as a result of being a survivor. I have used this opportunity to be vocal about awareness and prevention and I host a large fundraiser every year in my home to support various breast cancer organizations. Would I have wished for breast cancer? Of course not. But I can’t change the fact that I am a survivor. I can only control what I do every day to try my best to inspire other survivors.
I know this ad has angered a lot of people. Do you know what cancer is the worst of all? The cancer of hate. For the haters out there, hate on cancer, not on the person. If you are going to take the time to comment or tweet, take the time to be kind and support a cancer organization. Or take the time to do something nice for someone who has cancer. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this controversy, use your voice to inspire your community of fellow cancer survivors. We’re all in this fight together. We need to support one another. We need to love one another. We need to find a cure and end ALL cancer.
Holly Bertone is originally from Waynesboro, PA. She holds a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University, a Bachelor’s Degree from Elizabethtown College, and is a Project Management Professional (PMP). Holly is the CEO and President of Pink Fortitude, LLC, a company dedicated to promoting inspiration and positive self-esteem to cancer survivors and ALL women.