It’s October again, and anyone who knows anything about breast cancer knows it’s Pinktober. This comes with many emotions for different people. Pride, anger, sadness…..it’s not the same for each person. For me though, it’s all of them.
I’m a girl who always hated pink. I wasn’t girly, hated sparkles, and was perfectly happy with my not pink stuff. I had no pink. When I was diagnosed, I thought….really? The pink one? Sigh…..you will find as I share more just how crazy I am. I really did think that. Of course I had no idea what was in store for me as I entered the whirlwind of cancer diagnosis, so my thought process was a little naive. I really had no idea about any of it. The tests I’d need done, the information they would be giving me, the choices I had. All I knew was I had the pink one and my boob was going to get cut off. At 24, did I really need to know about any of it? Yes. Yes I did. I should have known, but didn’t. I should have known to start getting to know my body. I should have known my risks. I should have known my options. I didn’t know any of it. Not all of it was my fault. Who thinks a 24 year old would get breast cancer? Not my doctor, that’s for sure. He told me not to worry about any of it, but I was still worried. Thankfully I was, as he referred me to a surgeon to check on to my issue….all the while assuring me I had nothing to worry about. My surgeon diagnosed me. I introduced me to my oncologist the same day. I didn’t even know what an oncologist was. My life changed in that moment, and I was introduced to a world I didn’t ever want to be in.
As we are full swing in to breast cancer awareness month, I felt a need to talk about what that should mean. It used to mean actually making people talk about it, many years ago you just didn’t. And women needed to. They needed to go get tested, talk about their family history, and be aware of their own bodies. They weren’t doing any of that and it meant they were diagnosed late stage and it was too late. Years and years later….most people know what it is. They have the pink out games, the pink shirts, pink coffee, pink everything….it’s everywhere. If you haven’t heard the term “pink washing”, that’s what it means. Pink ribbons everywhere, and everyone selling something pink. Most places will give a portion of what they are selling to some charity. Often it’s not legit, just a way to get all the pink supporters in to their stores. So awareness…..what is should be….needs to change. People do know it exists and they are willing to talk about it…..but many people still don’t know the basics…..family history, their own risks, and the testing they need. Awareness needs to be about education. It’s not enough to wear a pink t-shirt and say I support the boobies. Save the ta-tas! Save second base! Usually when a women, or man, is diagnosed with breast cancer, they lose their breast. So those are cute statements that get your attention….but to someone who has fought, or is fighting for their life…..it’s kind of a slap in the face.
Breast cancer is horrible. You are cut up, poked, tested, touched, talked about, filled with poison, radiated, sick, and so tired. Many times you want to give up. Many times you feel angry. Many times you feel alone. It’s not fun, pretty, sparkly, or pink. People are dying….nothing about that is fun.
All that said though….pink to me also means survivor. Friends and family showed their support with every pink thing they gave me, or wore in my honor. I can’t help but feel like the color also represents my strength. I’ve been with groups of breast cancer survivors all wearing pink and it feels powerful. We are strong women who fought with everything we had. Surviving cancer is no easy thing, and we all celebrate the life we still have. And I also see pink as a way to honor those we lost. There is a feeling of solidarity in the color pink amongst those who have been through bc.
My feelings are conflicted….and I think it’s that way for many of us. There is nothing wrong with supporting and celebrating the person in your life affected by breast cancer. I think what we really want people to know, especially during the month of October, is that we are so much more than the flashy pink things you see. We are real people who really went through hell. We are angry that there isn’t a cure. We live with what cancer did to us the rest of our lives. I can cover it with pink…..but underneath is reality.
My feelings are my own, and I welcome anyone to share their thoughts and experiences with me! Also, forgive me if I’m rambly! I’m working on getting my brain working again!