Thursday, October 5, 2017

Going beyond PINK for Breast Cancer

October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most folks are aware of the “pink ribbon” as a result of the tremendous marketing and visibility campaigns over the years. Now, I’m not what you’d consider a “pink kinda gal”. Being a red head by birth, the hue never went with my natural coloring, thus I never owned anything in pink. Never thought I would. But when you have breast cancer, everything associated with it is pink, and so I now have a plethora of pink: pink shirts, ink buttons, pink flags, pink pins, pink blankets, pink hats (you get the picture). And I must say, with my cancer-given hair which is now grey, pink works!

On one hand, the pink ribbon has become an internationally-recognized, visible symbol of my cancer. Possibly the most recognized symbol in the world. It is honestly a comforting feeling to see the pink ribbon everywhere, to see folks participating in walks, runs, on motorcycles, bicycles, doing CrossFit (“barbells for boobs” is a fav), having bake sales, etc.  all in their own way raising awareness and much-needed funds to support cancer research and to provide hope to those of us who desperately cling to the word. Makes me feel as if I’m not alone. That complete strangers are in my corner. Alongside me in the fight against cancer. In truth, it feels good.

On the other hand, October is just 31 days. For me, and others like me, breast cancer month is January, February, March, April….you get the point. I fear the color – and the month – allows some folks to escape the hard work of preventing and finding a cure for cancer. For working (and voting) to ensure cancer patients have access to affordable and good healthcare. What happens when November-December rolls around and Congress is back at attempting to slash medical research dollars at NIH, and arguing that letting states decide who should receive healthcare and who should be thrown into a “high-risk pool” is a good idea. I need folks to stay “woke” 12 months of the year, 365 days of the year. Let’s be real: my hope for a long life lies in the hands of cutting-edge cancer research, so funding for this work is critical, and to access to affordable and good healthcare. No doubt about it. 

Women – and men – need to be active in their own healthcare 365 days a year: learn about early detection, to get your annual mammogram, and to push your medical team for further exploration if something isn’t settling with you. We all need to be giving to and supporting the work of cancer research and organizations that provide comfort, care, and counseling to folks battling cancer, survivors and their families. And participating politically - and voting - for those who are working to uphold and better our country’s healthcare system so that everyone has access to affordable and effective healthcare. Getting cancer will forever terrify me about this issue. I need folks to pay attention and to be educated in the healthcare debate. It’s complicated to be sure, but please pay attention.  Ok, enough of the soapbox. You get the picture I hope.

So what will this breast cancer survivor be doing for Breast Cancer Awareness month you ask? I’ll be spending the month of pink raising awareness of breast cancer and the importance of early detection, attending a couple cancer awareness NFL games (!), and raising money for caring organizations who have been and will be there for me and others like me fighting for our lives.

So many of you have already joined me in these efforts. Words cannot describe how it makes me feel. Just know I cry every time I receive notice of another contribution. I really do. Liz and I are walking in the American Cancer Society’s “Making Strides” 5k at the end of October. If you would like to join me, there is still time. Give and/or come out and walk with me. Here’s the link to my page: .  

Oh,and I'll be wearing pink....Thanks for rooting for me!!!  #Onward

1 comment:

  1. I too was not a pink girl, not because I was a redhead, just thought it was for little girls. But now well like you it's a different story. I've walked Komen and Making Strides for 20 years, have pins, shirts, hats or some peraphalia from every walk. I walked three 60 mile Komen walks-, that's one walk that will tug at your heart for life. My list of co-breast cancer survivors has grown (not a good list to watch grow). But "survivors" is the key word. Because of these walks is why we're here today - give give give, don't just throw accolades at walkers good job etc. it may make you feel good and proud and we all need encouragement but research dollars is what is really needed along w the ata boy!!!! I'm walking tomorrow with three family members, the number goes down the longer your a survivor or in recovery, but life goes on and it's ok. I know the people walking with me have been there since day one. Good luck Jacki - I'm there in spirit and have a ribbon in your honor hanging with all the rest of the survivors. Love you girl