It is Random Acts of Kindness week, which is the kind of thing that keeps my kids at the forefront of my mind. All of them have a deep appreciation for the truly random, and they have made me have an appreciation for it as well. As cool as random surprises can be, they don’t usually have an impact that lasts beyond the moment or the day. Making a big impact takes planning… which got me thinking.
May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month, and we have been pretty vocal about that in year’s past. There hasn’t been much of an impact, though, despite our efforts. I think a big part of that is the lack of a large, concentrated effort. We are all out there doing our own little things, but without an umbrella covering it all and pulling us all closer together. I’d like to change that this year.
Before I tell you how I think we can change it, let me explain why I think it is important to change it:
1. Brain cancer patients frequently can’t advocate for themselves. Why? Well, first of all, the disease is attacking their brains. That means that communication skills can be affected, but beyond just speaking, it can make them more irritated with social situations. Too much stimulation (in the form of conversation or even background noise) can be overwhelming and frustrating. Secondly, if they are not affected by these issues, they don’t want people to assume that they are… so they may try to hide the fact that they are fighting the disease. Some people, like my son, for example, spend much of their time with few visible symptoms and in the fortunate cases, even few non-visible symptoms. They can go on with their lives… but that doesn’t mean the disease isn’t there. It doesn’t mean that their lifespans aren’t being exponentially shortened. This is an insidious disease, and it may lurk or leave without signs that a casual observer could ascertain. The disease may be defeated, or it may take their life, frequently without friends knowing that they were “that sick”.
2. As clever as it is to use grey as the awareness color for a disease affecting our “grey matter”, the color grey is as “blah” as you can get. Think about it. If an NFL team decides to wear pink for breast cancer awareness, they have immediately gotten everyone’s attention. Pink is bright. It is unusual for a man to wear. But grey? Everyone wears grey. It’s the “new black”. It’s plain, and dare I say it, a little boring. If we got every major league baseball team to wear grey in May, you may not even notice. Half of them already have grey uniforms! It’s not outstanding in any way.
3. There is no marketing firm working on brain cancer awareness month. Breast cancer has some pretty heavy hitters who are willing to spend large portions of their budget on marketing and public relations to influence companies to help them make an impact. Brain cancer charities spend their budgets on research. Frankly, I’m pretty happy that they do, but if we want their money going to research, we need to help them out with the marketing.
So here’s what I propose:
1. I think we should ALL use #greyallmay for all of the events that we do. Whatever brain cancer organization you are raising money for, tag #greyallmay. We can build some sort of basic webpage to rally everyone and explain why this is an issue. We can list links to the various organizations that are making a difference in brain cancer research. We can post pictures of people going “greyallmay” to build the hype.
2. The rally cry should be for everyone to wear grey every day in May. Is that a commitment? You bet it is. But I figure if Johnny Cash can wear black every day of his life, we can all commit to one month a year.