It’s not Pink, the singer, that stirs up ambivalent feelings in my soul, it’s the color pink linked to October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s all the pink stuff beyond the commemorative ribbons. It’s pink deodorant containers, buckets of chicken, yogurt lids, pens, bottles, garden tools, and such. I can’t even look at Pepto-Bismol bottles anymore.
Before sticks and stones are thrown my way, please hear me out. The end of next month marks the 7th year from the last chemo session I had. That’s the date I considered myself cancer free.
There was an eighth session scheduled in mid-December for chemo but I was so friggin’ tired of being tired, having pain, throwing up, (fill in any adjective for miserable) that I skipped it. I wanted to make tamales with my family, as I had since I was a child, and I wanted to celebrate Christmas in my living room, not from my bed.
So I said “F-K It,” I’m not doing this anymore.
I still don’t know whether I based my decision on fatigue or it was a grasp at self-determination. Maybe it was both. Probably. I do remember feeling particularly powerless at that time. There are the ambivalent feelings of life and death, hair and no hair, sorrow and hope, regrets and plans, hell days and heaven days. Load these into a blender, push the button, and you might get a sense of how I felt.
Pink products and words “Breast Cancer” remind me of this time in my life. This is where my ambivalence comes from; this is when I cringe.
I’m not ungrateful for my life, or breast cancer research, or awareness of breast cancer,
because I am and so are my three children, but it's all that dang PINK everywhere in October, when the autumn colors of golden, bronze, pumpkin, and burgundy naturally abounds.
PINK is in my supermarket, the drug store, magazines, T.V., clothing stores, pet stores, bakery, and on my toilet paper wrap. (Now wasn't that bolded PINK just a little annoying?) That's what I see in October, flutters of PINK everywhere. ANNOYING.
Breast cancer sucks. Marketing breast cancer double sucks.
My ambivalence also has to do with the fact that in my small world and community I keep encountering numerous cases of breast cancer in women ranging from 28 to 70 years of age. I’m sure you've heard of many people battling the disease within your circle of family/friends/acquaintances.
How can this be after years of research, millions of dollars, and awareness campaigns? Have we been operating on lies?
I am not saying that we should stop donating to campaigns of our choice (especially my favorite Dr. Susan Love's research for the cause of breast cancer, thus the cure).
Au contraire. I’m still going to do my annual Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. I’m still going to talk with women who are going through BC treatment- if they ask. I’m going to don my khaki hat with the pink ribbon (the one I wore for 6 months on my baldhead) and the black and pink one my sister traded for her own hat on a bus in London.
I will continue to advocate for people to be aware of how to minimize their risk to cancer and find affordable health care. I'm going to do those things and hope you show support by doing these things too.
I'm just one survivor/thriver trying to communicate my feelings. Maybe a day will come, soon I hope, when Pink no longer stirs up my stuff and becomes just another color, as the lyrics in this video so aptly describes.
I can hope.
UPDATE: Jennifer (down there in the comment section) referred me to a site where I met fella sisters who are sick of marketing the "Pink." Check out Think Before You Pink. They bring up valid points:
As we head into November’s election, we urge everyone concerned about breast cancer to demand representatives from every state support the 2012 Breast Cancer Action Mandate for Government Action. We need to move beyond “awareness” and pink ribbons to demand candidates and elected officials take real action on breast cancer, by initiating and supporting independent research and strong regulation to turn the tide on this epidemic.
Thank you for listening.