Why We Should Change the Way We Talk About Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Breast cancer is the second most common cancer for American women, following skin cancer. In 2019 alone, 41,760 U.S. women are expected to die of breast cancer. There is no question that breast cancer is a prevalent issue that makes organizations such as Susan G. Komen for Cure, Keep a Breast, and Save the Boobies so important. But, let’s not save the boobies, let’s save human lives.

Sure, it's a marketing campaign to increase awareness and get people interested in a cure, but it has real-life implications and effects. When we say “save the boobies,” “save the tatas,” or “keep a breast,” it focuses the fight against breast cancer on saving boobs, rather than the lives of the people affected by breast cancer. Women who are impacted by breast cancer deserve to have their lives and struggles respected. But these commonly used slogans that are focused on boobs make the possible loss of breasts the focal point of the fight against breast cancer and make it seem as if we should be trying to save breasts instead of people. We should prioritize people over boobs. If we happen to lose a boob or two in the fight for life, these slogans only serve to add shame to an already difficult situation. Friends who have had family members affected are frustrated by the wording because it ignores the humanity of the illness.When we focus on saving breasts instead of women, we contribute to a history of the objectification of women that places more value on their bodies, boobs, and sex appeal than their lives and mind. Let’s not pretend words don’t have meaning. The way we talk affects the way we think, and focusing on saving breasts instead of people is contributing to the objectification of women and dehumanizing an already tragic experience.