My Colors are Blush and Bashful

Even after my first diagnosis, I didn't get it.

Come on.  Everyone gets breast cancer.  Well, at minimum every woman.  (Side bar, it's not EVERY woman, and more importantly, men get breast cancer, too).

I thought, no big deal.  It's breast cancer.  Everyone gets it (see previous side bar). Everyone
gets it and they survive.  It's the "good cancer."  Do we really need NFL players wearing pink every October to "raise awareness"?  Don't we all know about breast cancer, know the pink ribbon, loathe the overexposure?  I did. In a way, I still do.

Pink isn't only for women.  But I do feel for the men diagnosed with the disease who show up to events and have to sport bright pink paraphernalia and read the signs that say "Save the Ta-Tas."

Stage IV didn't immediately change my mind about the importance of breast cancer awareness and research.  Every October, I still recall the scene from the movie Steel Magnolias:

Shelby: "My colors are Blush and Bashful.  I have chosen two shades of pink, one is much deeper than the other."

M'Lynn: "That sanctuary looks like it's been hosed down with Pepto Bismol."

Shelby: "I like pink!  Pink is my signature color."

We all know that breast cancer sucks.  But do we really need the hype?  All the pink?  All the overexposure in October?

Turns out, we do.

Let me be clear. I am in no way diminishing other cancers.  Pancreatic and ovarian cancers are evil.  In the case of ovarian cancer, 59% of women are diagnosed when the disease is at an advanced, less curable disease. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers.  The symptoms of these cancers are so "benign" that by the time the patient gets diagnosed...it's too late.

However, I am here to talk about breast cancer.  I am here to tell my story,  My story, which is interwoven with so many others. No one's story exists in isolation.

Two months, nearly to the day of my first diagnosis in November 2012, my 34 year-old friend, with an 18 month-old son, passed away from breast cancer.  My grandmother had breast cancer.  My aunt had breast cancer.  My mother-in-law, who died as a result of the disease, my sister-in-law, they had breast cancer.

I say "had".  Is it ever really "had"?  Or it is it more like, "I have my fingers crossed that hopefully this disease will never surface again"?

In the last month, (yes, the last month. 30 days.) my colleague had a double mastectomy.  My friend - a double mastectomy.  A "family member" (think of the aunt who isn't blood-related) had a lumpectomy.  A dear acquaintance entered chemo.

Last 30 days. 30 Days.  30 FUCKING DAYS.

I get it.  I like pink.  Hell, it's the title of my blog.

But I am over pink.

I long for the day when October is a lovely shade of celebrated gray.  I long for a cure.  I long for a vaccine.  Mostly, I long for this disease to stop afflicting my family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers.

Until then, I write.

And pink? I'm over it. But it's my signature color.




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