A Breast Cancer Survivor's Perspective
As I am rounding out my chemotherapy treatments in October, it is impossible to miss all the pink…for what some call Pinktober. I have had 13 chemo treatments, and I have been preparing myself for this month since my diagnosis in May. At first, I was hesitant to join the pink bandwagon…it is just not my color. I always get drawn toward different blue hues, they pull me in with their calming effect and give me some since of serenity.
As the summer marched on, I started receiving pink gifts from friends, family, and well-wishers…everything from hats, to shirts, to blankets, to bibles, to notebooks, to novels, to pillows, to shoes (I know…#grateful). Naturally, the idea of pink started to warm up to me. And of course, the pink color had meaning. But for me, as an actual breast cancer survivor…what did pink really mean?
When I first dove into the pink parade, I felt like the color represented awareness for breast cancer, which was more important to me now than ever. It represented advocacy, prevention, research, and support to families who are facing this devastating disease that robs. However, as I began to do my research, my benefit-of-the-doubt, naïve, uber positive heart broke. You mean people take advantage of the pink in October for monetary gain? Get out of here. I was stunned. Apparently, this is nothing new, I just didn’t realize it until this month started to mean so much to me. I probably FELL into one of these money traps.
I learned that companies (lets call them Bob's Bobs) will make ALL kinds of stuff in pink…hair dryers, cleats, donuts, clothing, boots, wiper blades, cups, wine glasses, etc etc etc. Bob’s Bobs will either NOT actually give their profits toward breast cancer, OR they will create a loophole. Bob’s Bobs will say that they will give back, but as they create their sponsorship for the organization, Bob’s Bobs say they’ll commit to donating XXX amount of money and cap it at that…REGARDLESS of how much Bob’s Bobs will actually sell (and profit off of) of the said product that month. What the what?! Yep, I know! Who could justify that? Well, someone who A) Has clearly been unaffected personally by breast cancer (or any cancer) B) Has an issue with money as an idol (They need to get an adjustment from the WORD if you know what I mean #bibleforlifelessons). #cmonbobsbobs
Furthermore, I learned that mega organizations will put on these HUGE races and events and ONLY give back 40% (just an example) of the proceeds to actual research or patient support. Why? Because they plan such a colossal event that they have to pay for the overhead. Palm-to-forehead! Clearly, what was lost is the point of creating true awareness, true education, true advocacy, true fundraising for research and helping families. Many have been so focused on the event that they forget what it is for. #notgood (I don’t know what is up with the hashtags tonight, but I am going to roll with it. I am flying high on my post-chemo steroid at the moment, so just enjoy my #ampedwiredhumor. See how I did that? ;) Okay moving on.)
Of course, this realization hits me a week after we participated in Race for the Cure held by Susan G. Komen. (Which was amazing in SO many ways…my support team rocked my pink bum all the way to the Capital and back. I felt #soloved). Not to say Komen isn’t doing what is right when it comes to their proceeds, but the event was gigantic. And nationwide. Did I feel special as a survivor? Absolutely! I high-fived cheerleaders, ran through a blush & bashful balloon tunnel, dipped my hand in magenta paint for the wall of survivors, I got breakfast tacos afterwards in the Survivor Tent, I got a bubblegum colored hat and a cotton candy tinted Yeti…pretty awesome! But, all of that should not be a charade to make survivors feel special and not get to the root of the cause. Because I’ll tell ya after meeting some of these women…they are bears, no they are lions. They are not be messed with (me included #mamalioness). 10 out of 10 of these strong women would begin crouching into their pouncing stance if they heard this news. So, Race for the Cure may be legit… I know they are making leaps and bounds with their research. But other organizations are not being so honest. And it's not just about the titanic races… the real problem is the stores carrying all the Pepto Bismal colored products and CLAIMING they are going to donate proceeds toward breast cancer but don’t or don’t donate what they lie to the public. Next time this happens, ask the owner where the proceeds go, what organization, how much total, do they know what the organization plans to do with the total donation. Grill them. You have every right to know, and they need to be pointed toward honesty.
I think that if someone is going to don pink, hold a pink pep rally at school, a pink tailgate, sell a pink item, wear a "I love boobies" bracelet… they need to know the true essence of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is being utterly blindsided. Breast cancer is fearfully picturing your young daughters being raised without you alive. Breast cancer is being poked and prodded. Breast cancer is chopping off your long blonde hair, because you know what is inevitable. Breast cancer is a new scar and being plugged into a machine. Breast cancer is keeping ice in your mouth, so the medicine doesn’t create mouth sores. Breast cancer is losing your taste buds. Breast cancer is being exhausted. Breast cancer is laying on the couch, while someone else puts your baby to bed. Breast cancer is sleeping, while someone else takes your three-year-old to the splash pad. Breast cancer is shaving your head, before your hair falls out. Breast cancer is discomfort. Breast cancer is 15 prescription meds a day. Breast cancer is rocking your baby and getting light headed and laying her down, because you can’t stand on your feet anymore. Breast cancer is feeling isolated. Breast cancer is feeling forgotten. Breast cancer is feeling lost. Breast cancer is your hair falling out in the bathtub as you stare with tears rolling down your cheeks. Breast cancer is having to go lay down and miss afternoon playtime with your daughters. Breast cancer is feeling nauseas. Breast cancer is vomiting at 2 a.m. Breast cancer is having a team of seven doctors. Breast cancer is toxic medicine flowing through your veins. Breast cancer makes or breaks your marriage.. Breast cancer is no eyebrows or eyelashes. Breast cancer is planning the removal of your God-given breasts. Breast cancer is accepting that one breast will be removed five months before the other. Breast cancer is worrying about finances as medical bills pour in. Breast cancer is loss. Breast cancer is robbery. Breast cancer is not recognizing your reflection in the mirror. Breast cancer is surgery. Breast cancer is risk of infection. Breast cancer is dependency. Breast cancer is radioactive waves penetrating your body. Breast cancer is skin inflammation. Breast cancer is being cut apart and moved around like a doll. Breast cancer is complete dependency. Breast cancer is fear. Breast cancer is possible death. Breast cancer is post-traumatic stress disorder. Breast cancer is learning to live again.
BUT…. After they fully understand that. They need to understand this:
Breast cancer is gaining perspective. Breast cancer is being determined to live another 60+ years, to watch your daughters grow. Breast cancer is being stronger than thought possible. Breast cancer is revival. Breast cancer is technology. Breast cancer is building tolerance. Breast cancer is finding the joy. Breast cancer encourages rest. Breast cancer summons support. Breast cancer renews relationships. Breast cancer welcomes Western medicine. Breast cancer is choosing gratitude. Breast cancer urges being proactive. Breast cancer is treasuring the little moments. Breast cancer is truly being surrounded. Breast cancer is knowing God has not forgotten you. Breast cancer is finding purpose. Breast cancer supports emotions. Breast cancer requires self-love. Breast cancer is about facing adversity.Breast cancer is clinging to my marriage in love and loyalty. Breast cancer is Western meets Eastern medicine. Breast cancer is trust. Breast cancer is character propelling. Breast cancer is reliance. Breast cancer is hope. Breast cancer is praying for God to provide. Breast cancer is gain. Breast cancer is taking the high road. Breast cancer is moving forward. Breast cancer is faith. Breast cancer is letting go. Breast cancer is conviction. Breast cancer is newness. Breast cancer is transformation. Breast cancer is completely letting go. Breast cancer is bravery. Breast cancer is seeking peace. Breast cancer is living life with a new lens. Breast cancer is measured by how you live your life. Breast cancer is rebirth.
That is what breast cancer is. When organizations, stores, people, schools, companies realize those things. I bet people's involvement would change immediately, I bet their investment will be made thoughtfully, volunteering will commence, and helping anyone known who is battling cancer in some sort of way, will put into action versus just a thought.
That is what I would like to see. I am only 4 months into this rodeo, and I want change.
I am thirsty for making a difference. Prevention is key, early detection is crucial, non-toxic living is essential, creating this awareness, putting advocacy into women’s hands is priority. It has become my purpose to share my story and help create change.