“Realize that none of us are immune from any of it. Learn what you can and give what you can.”
The end of September brings to close Sickle Cell Awareness Month. October ushers in Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. With November we’ll welcome National Diabetes Awareness Month and Health Awareness Month. And as the months continue to roll in, so will the awareness this and awareness that month. But wait, let’s not roll our eyes and suck our teeth in annoyance just yet.
As I reflect over my life, I realize that so many of these awareness months either directly or indirectly affect me. As a sickle cell patient, September is particularly important to me. Sickle cell research is one of the most underfunded and least recognized causes there is. Despite the fact that there are approximately 100,000 U.S citizens living with sickle cell, progress in battling the disease is slow going. Yes, some advances have been made, but for those of us living with chronic pain, fatigue, organ damage, and who are blood donor dependent, the advances can’t come quick enough. Sickle Cell Awareness Month not only offers an opportunity to spread knowledge about the disease, but it raises much needed funds that help sickle cell patients in a plethora of ways.
So what’s next? Ah yes, Domestic Violence Month. Okay, you don’t have sickle cell and to your knowledge none of your friends or family have it. But how many of you or someone that you know have ever been a victim of domestic violence? Please understand that domestic violence isn’t limited to physical abuse, it also includes verbal, financial abuse, and any other form of abuse that cripples a person and makes them fearful of and/or dependent on their abuser. In my younger years, I married a man who I let persuade me to move away from all of my family friends. He harassed me to get a job and when I did, he would steal my money so that I was financially dependent on him. The name calling, punches and elbows were more than I was willing to bear. I concocted a plan and got out. But I realize that all victims of domestic violence aren’t as lucky. Women (and men) die every day at the hands of their abusers. Many are trapped without any means to escape and it doesn’t help that domestic situations are often brushed off by authorities. So yes, we need Domestic Violence Awareness Month to educate and provide resources for those that are either victims, know a victim or at risk of becoming a victim of domestic violence.
We certainly can’t forget about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Approximately 1 in 8 U.S women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. That means that either we know someone who has developed breast cancer or we ourselves have developed it. That is insane to me! Is there any question as to why we need an awareness month for this? Education and early detection are key in fighting breast cancer and much of this is achieved through functions/events held during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I remember several years ago during a book club meeting, one of my friends looked around our little gathering of six and said that one of us would likely develop breast cancer. She had just lost a dear friend to breast cancer and was suddenly very aware of the statistics. My best friend wasn’t at that particular meeting, but some years later she developed breast cancer. She won her battle and made heaven her home two years ago. I miss her every single day. Her departure has left an irreparable hole in my heart. So yes, we need Breast Cancer Awareness because I don’t want another woman to fight and have her body ravaged by this merciless disease.
I could go on and on with all of the awareness months and their significance, but I won’t. However, I will ask that before you suck your teeth and grow tired of all the awareness months, think about those that are living with these various diseases and in these horrific situations. Realize that none of us are immune from any of it. Learn what you can and give what you can. After you’ve donated you can suck your teeth and roll your eyes…LOL.