Elizabeth Kovacs, junior
As the month of October nears its end, I think all of us can agree that it was not lacking in enthusiasm as the month dedicated to raising awareness for breast cancer. While I adore the outpouring of support that breast cancer awareness has generated, there is one thing I believe we could all do without. The phrase “save the ta-tas” is one that most have heard countless times, especially during the month of October. While the expression may seem cute and harmless, it is really just as frivolous and uncultivated as it sounds.
Not only does the phrase focus on a hyper-sexualized attribute of a woman, it implies that saving these body parts is more important than saving the life of the person afflicted with a life-altering, potentially fatal illness. Even worse, it implies that women who have undergone life-saving mastectomies to either prevent or treat their cancer are in some way wrong or less feminine than those who have not. Having breasts is not an indicator of femininity or beauty, and cancer patients should not be made to feel so. It’s also discriminatory against the men who suffer from breast cancer.
There is no other cancer that has generated a phrase of the same nature. Saying “save the colon!” or “save the prostate!” sounds pretty ridiculous, and for good reason. Unfortunately, because of the culture we live in where women’s breasts are hyper-sexualized, the focus is taken off of the individual and placed on the body part afflicted. Doing so diminishes the struggle of the cancer patient; of going through chemotherapy and radiation, of making life-changing medical decisions, and the prospect of succumbing to a horrendous disease that has been made into a cutesy slogan.
As soon-to-be nurses, I encourage everyone, especially during the month of October, to remember that our goal is to save the lives of the women (and men) afflicted with breast cancer. Our job as nurses is to support and assist our patients, whether this means “saving their ta-tas” or not. Nurses should know better than anyone else that a disease as serious as cancer should never be reduced to a mere sexist slogan, and that our goal is always to save our patients before anything or anyone else.