Save Your Own Tatas

Save the Tatas.  It was on a bumper sticker with a jaunty little pink ribbon, pasted on the bumper of a pickup truck.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t carrying my sledgehammer with me.  My purse is already heavy enough.

So I came home and Googled the cute little saying.  As it turns out, it’s a website enterprise with lots of bannered T-shirts and perky young things smiling at the camera.  It’s all about eradicating breast cancer — but with a smile and a sly wink.  With humor, you know.  Get it?  No, I don’t.

Or maybe I do, but I don’t like it.  Sure, maybe some of the proceeds from the sales of STTT clothing and bumper stickers go to support breast cancer research.   Everybody gets to wear tight T-shirts that show they still — fortunately! — have their tatas and their sense of play.  Everybody grins and wins, you know.

Good lord.  Where to start?

For me, of course, it’s already too late.  Like many of my friends, I’ve lost both breasts (excuse me if I don’t call them tatas) to surgery.  And you know what?  That was the least of my problems.  Cancer in your breasts doesn’t kill you; it’s simply where cancer can start.  You stop worrying about your breasts really quickly — and start worrying about sites where the breast cancer can metastasize.  Places like your liver, lungs, bones and brain that are a bit more vital than your cleavage.  Places where the cancer will kill you.

But Save the Lungs wouldn’t look funny on a T-shirt or bumper sticker.  Instead, let’s grab the reassuring little pink ribbon and the cutesy names for breasts and forget all about mortality tables and metastases and wink like Sarah Palin, since nothing’s really that serious that you can’t joke about it, including national security and global warming and terrorist cells of the individual and malignant variety.  And, if you don’t get the joke, too bad for you and all your gloom-and-doom pronouncements.  C’mon, smile!

Save the Tatas!  You only worry about your breasts when there’s not something greater at stake.  Like your life, say.

I get the joke.  The trouble is, it isn’t funny.  I’ll be carrying my sledgehammer after this.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

17 comments… add one
  • Cindy A

    I think we were sisters in a past life, Ruth. In October, I happened to be at a cancer fundraiser in Abilene, Texas, when the Fight Back Express rolled up to the front door, a bus headed to Washington DC to remind legislators that cancer should be a national priority.  Everyone was asked to take a marker and sign the bus with messages like, “Please help fight cancer. In memory of Aunt Sue.”

    One of the revelers at the fundraiser wrote “Save the Tatas” in big letters across the side of the bus. We were all so embarrassed. There were women with breast cancer right there who had no tatas.

    I didn’t know STTT was a website or a movement, but I agree with you that it is a truly bad idea.  Save the women. Forget the tatas.

    Cindy A

  • ruthpennebaker

    How mortifying and infuriating.  I guess they think it helps.

  • I’m trying to imagine the male equivalent of this ridiculous company and its moronic motto. How about “Save the cojones” jockey shorts for men, with a portion of profits to go to testicular cancer research.

  • M A

    Well, here’s to you for surviving breast cancer.  A friend of mine recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and I told her (not quite sure of how she would react) that if I were in her shoes, I’d have them both lobbed off.  She said that she intended to do the same & that’s what she did.  Only thing is, she never did any grieving.  I offered to help her have a send-off for her boobs but she just couldn’t wait to get rid of them, which I sort of understood.  But, they can be a source of pleasure for you & your family (nursing babies & such) so even if they must be given up for the greater good, still they should be honored, don’t you think?  She’s doing OK, though, & doesn’t have to have chemo/radiation & we are all celebrating that news.  So, I totally agree, go “save your own tatas” & let me do what I think is best for mine…  Cheers to you in the New Year dawning

  • Hi ya all.  I had the same idea when I saw the bumper sticker in my neighborhood.  Save the ta-tas?  My tat-as are gone.  I don’t mind that they are gone as long as I have my life.   And how are they saving other women’s ta-tas?  Not sure.  I love the “save the cajones” idea.  Now, that sounds humorous, but I doubt Lance Armstrong would think so.

  • Okay – a friend sent me a Save the TaTas shirt (and my husband got me some bike socks with the same saying).  They made me laugh – so does that make me a traitor to the cause?

  • T H

    Though I understand your concern, I believe you may have mistaken the purpose of “save the tatas”. Yes, breasts are nice to have, but when faced with cancer, they are nothing. You stated, “Cancer in your breasts doesn’t kill you; it’s simply where cancer can start.  You stop worrying about your breasts really quickly — and start worrying about sites where the breast cancer can metastasize.  Places like your liver, lungs, bones and brain that are a bit more vital than your cleavage.  Places where the cancer will kill you.” I could not agree with you more. However, I believe that ‘save the tatas’ is directed more towards gaining funds to find a cure for breast cancer, and not actually saving the breast once cancer has been diagnosed. If a cute, catchy phrase will encourage other people to donate their money to find a cure, then lets come up with cute, catchy phrases. I truely am sorry for you and those who have already lost their breasts to cancer. But, I will look beyond myself and place a sticker on my car in hopes that a cure will be found before too many other women are affected.

  • sarah

    Sorry if STTT offends some people…u take it too literal…my mother passed from breast cancer and i am sure she she would not mind if a “cute catch phrase” is helping people raise donations to help other people with cancer…God Bless

  • jason

    i agree, most of you are way too literal. i take it as “check your breasts early and often” and also as a way to donate/advertise for a worthy cause(b/c a % does go to cancer research). i have lost 3 grandparents to cancer, one of my grandmother lost both breasts, but it wasn’t diagnosed early enough and spread. perhaps someone like her today might see a “tatas” bumpersticker and google it and begin checking their own breasts and find cancer early enough to save not only themselves from cancer, but get the lump out and save the breast. i, as a guy, cannot imagine how tough it would be to loose a breast(as specially with the unrealistic physical expectations women have on themselves). but i really could care less about breasts, and a woman who has faught an illness like cancer is all the more attractive to me, regardless of how many breasts she has………………….basically, if it raises awareness, gets some money to a good cause, can it really be that bad? i’m sorry you are so sour about a silly slogan

  • I LOVE the S.T.T.T. slogan. I just had a double mastectomy in June and will go to my third chemo treatment next week. It put a smile on my face when I saw the bumper sticker. I think it’s just another way to tell women to be aware without saying a word. Do your’ self exams, it saved my life, and if it makes others aware and smile too.

  • Karen

    Ladies – it’s not always supposed to be funny.  Sometimes, it’s supposed to raise awareness for those who need to be hit with a “sledgehammer” to wake up.  “Save the ta-tas” may be offensive to you because you’ve lived with the nightmare. Someone, especially a man, who has been lucky enough to remain ignorant of breast cancer and all that it is will look twice at something like this.  If they’re looking twice, they might think once.  Once more than they would have.  They may then encourage the women who they love to get a mammogram before they become aware of an inconsistency.  Give them a break – it takes “ta-tas” to make some people pay attention.

  • true it is a  big issue thats been around for a while. I am with this organization. take that sledgehammer wherever you go, but when a company is making tata stickers theyr giving proceeds to organizations to help women with the research. stop being so self centered and look at the whole picture, its a strategy of marketing and if people would buy the shirts and stickers then so be it. its not ridiculing anything and would you rather not benefit from the extra money they give to fund extra research..my opinion

  • Maggie

    Look at the STTT website — they give “a portion” of their 24.95 tee shirts to cancer research –their own!  It’s their research center, and these types of money making insensitive outfits detract from the real cancer research going on.   At the very least they are duplicating what is already done.

    It’s not cute, it’s making trivial of a life….  the humor of cancer is in the survivial, and only someone who has been through it and is ready to let the humor back into their life can say when, where and how much.  

  • Linda

    Really???? With all the yucky stuff going on around us you’re going to get all insulted about this???? My sister was diagnosed 8 years ago. We thought it was gone. the cancer has recently returned and has spread everywhere. She is now in stage 4. This slogan makes her LAUGH( : It is bringing AWARENESS…..
    Come on give me a break and take a chill pill.

  • shirley willingham

    Great article and feedback.
    Several people mentioned self examination, which is important, but please don’t forget the mamogram, and do it early. 40 plus is not to early. I had the type of cancer that had no lump that I could feel. It was formed like a spider web in the lymp nodes. The mammogram detected this in time. 3 time cancer survivor and going strong.
    my motto: never, never give up.

  • Kate

    It just so happens that I just participated in the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure and at the beginning of the race there was a big, loud, obnoxious guy, yelling “Save the Ta-Tas.” You could tell he thought he was real cool. Sorry, all you STTT supporters, but it is just something I could have been just as happy to do the walk without. I have never had breast cancer but if I had, and had to have a breast removed, I would have been even more annoyed. I also saw people wearing shirts that said, “I walk for Boobies!” and “Save the Milk Makers.” I just Googled “Save the Ta-Tas” and saw shirts and other products for sale that say, “Save the Boobies” and “Save the Hooters.” Very cute, clever, funny. How many edgy but not too insulting names can we think of for the word breast? It just so happens that The Susan B. Komen Foundation and other organizations have raised millions of dollars for cancer research and awareness, without having to refer to breasts as anything other than breasts. This is a free, and diverse, country and anyone can start an organization to raise money for breast cancer and use any cute name they want or think is necessary to get attention. Power to them if it gets the attention of people who otherwise would not support the cause. Personally , I will not be wearing any clothing or putting stickers on my car or anywhere that say “Save the Ta-Tas.” I am happy to support breast and other forms of cancer awareness/research/prevention with a little more class.

  • I realize this was posted a few years ago, but I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You for writing it. It says exactly what I think when I see those bumper stickers!
    Take care!

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