October has become my oxymoron month. On the one hand the parade of pink ribbons has
created a sense of comfort. As a survivor it is that recognition that I have a sisterhood of women who would walk, march, or run to show their encouragement. And at the time of diagnosis, every pink ribbon felt like a whisper of support in my fight to get healthy. I truly appreciate the people who have raised money and conducted research for the cause.
And yet, I would feel remiss if I didn't discuss the obvious juxtapose. Over the years I have wondered if the trend to wear pink ribbons has masked the meaning. Can you really tell me that KFC and their pink ribbon bucket are contributing to the demise of the disease? How about Estee Lauder, one of the first corporations to pink wash? Is it OK to put a pink ribbon on a product marketing shell and then add known toxins in the lipstick? (see the EWG cosmetic database on Lauder's products). And Yoplait with your pink ribbon caps? Did you forget until only recently you treated your cows with a healthy dose or rBGH?
And I just have to say it. Slogans like "Save the Ta's Ta's" offend me. I question the motive behind an organization that uses them. Loosing your breasts to cancer is only a portion of the loss. And it doesn't feel sexy or funny.
Today my daughter asked me if I wanted to be honored at a pink sporting event. Actually, anytime my teenage daughter asks to be seen in public with me I am honored. But I did a few of those events in the past and its not for me. Partially because I know that my survivorship is a blessing. I didn't earn it. I love that some suggest I am a warrior but in my heart I know that so much of this battle was won because of an early diagnosis, quality health care, and a big darn chunk of luck. The woman whose cancer has metastasized is often referred to as loosing her battle. And over the years I have decided that I dislike this reference that suggests she did not fight hard enough.
I'll never forget sitting in a restaurant with another dear friend dealing with a rarer form of cancer. As I twisted my pink ribbon bracelet she made mention of the fact that there was no ribbon for her disease.
I hesitated writing this post because I didn't want to come off as ungrateful. I am fully aware that life changing treatments meant that the disease I survived is one that I would not have had I been diagnosed only a decade earlier. And I love that pink-outs and 5k's bring the community together for a cause.
And if nothing else, let the month of October be a reminder to you to get your mammogram. Schedule it. I wouldn't be around to wear my pink ribbon Dansko shoes this month if I had missed mine.