It's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Thankfully, I have not been directly touched by this disease.
But I've often observed breast cancer culture and wondered how helpful it is for everyone. Breast cancer culture is dominated by two p's: pink and positivity, as well as the usual war metaphors of battles, fights and survivors.
Many women and their families gain strength from this approach but others resent it. So the Marie Keating Foundation and Europa Donna Ireland asked me if I'd speak to an online gathering of its metastatic breast cancer group this week.
We had a frank and, at times, unexpectedly funny conversation about how people talk about cancer.
First, the term "breast cancer" itself is a broad brush. Not all cancer is the same and most kinds are curable.
At one end, there's DCIS. This is not cancer, but a condition mostly flushed out by BreastCheck. Sometimes it can turn into cancer but because no-one's sure which DCIS cases might develop into cancer and which won't, everyone is treated, usually surgically. It's a traumatising experience.
Many specialists - including Professor Michael Baum, who set up the NHS's breast cancer screening programme in the UK - are deeply concerned too many women are treated unnecessarily for DCIS. He thinks this type of screening should now be shut down because of the harm he believes it's doing.
Some women need treatment for DCIS but many don't and we should be talking more about this.
At the other end of the spectrum is metastatic breast cancer, a devastating diagnosis. There is no cure, only treatment that can prolong life. Many of the women are young - outside the BreastCheck cohort of over-50s. They get up day after day knowing they won't see their children grow up and are leaving broken-hearted husbands and parents behind them.
Their goal is to live as well as they can for as long as they can and leave the only legacy that matters: love. To face that every day is an act of extraordinary bravery and grace.
The Marie Keating Foundation's slogan for Breast Cancer Awareness month is "Breast Cancer Isn't Just Pink" because many women feel their disease is glamourised.
We talked about the war metaphors and the tyranny of positive thinking.
It's common to talk about cancer being a battle and, of course, to a considerable extent it is. Facing chemotherapy, its toxic effects such as hair loss and the endless scans and appointments is a battle.
But it also puts huge pressure on cancer patients to "fight" their disease, an attitude we don't take with other illnesses.
When someone dies from cancer it's inevitably declared they "lost their battle with cancer".
Would we say someone "lost their battle with Covid"? Never. We just accept a horrible disease came along and took someone cruelly.
One woman said her father had a triple by-pass and no-one told him to fight. They told him to stay in bed and rest.
But everyone urges her to "fight for her children".
Apart from the fact that she is fighting as best she can - how could you not? - it amazes her that people presume she can keep herself alive through sheer force of will.
Or, God forbid, the correct diet. It appears chia is to breast cancer what ginger biscuits are to morning sickness.
Chia is not going to cure her cancer, yet she still feels guilty for eating a slice of cake, even though she knows neither the chia nor the cake matter. So, enough with the chia advice please.
One woman was raging when her doctor told her: "We are in a war and we will fight it together."
She didn't choose any war and wished that whatever about well-meaning friends, health professionals would tone it down.
Now, there's no doubt that some people find it empowering to take control of a terrifying situation. I can see myself drowning in that kind of diagnosis and holding on to anything to stay afloat.
Dr Susan O'Flanagan, a clinical psychologist, told the group that if this sense of agency and empowerment works for them and their families, they should go for it. If it gives you the strength and motivation to keep going, then absolutely use it.
But it's also OK to reject it.
That doesn't mean you're giving up, just letting go of the responsibility to influence the outcome.
It's not your fault if you've a bad scan result.
Which brings me to positive thinking.
There's a vast difference between making sure every day you have left is lived well and positively, and the insistence that "positivity" is a treatment in itself.
There is no robust evidence that positive thinking affects survival rates.
The guilt some women suffer that their sadness, anger and terror in the face of their diagnosis might make their cancer worse isn't fair. Negative feelings are normal.
Burying them just makes them worse. Feelings do not make cancer grow, nor can they cure it.
I think we say things like "be positive" and "you have to fight" because we don't know what else to say and we can't face talking about death.
It's hard to know the right thing to say to someone who's dying. I was extremely nervous about the event this week, terrified I'd say the wrong thing. But I listened to the women and learned.
Perhaps not talking, just listening, is the best thing we can ever do for anyone, especially when they are dying.