Sometimes October “pink” stinks. I am quiet during Breast Cancer Awareness month each year. I hunker down and just try to get through it. Am I being a bad sport? Maybe.
As a two-time cancer survivor, including breast cancer, I lament the lack of support and research for other stages, grades and types of breast cancer, and all other cancers. Yes, awareness and early detection are important for breast cancer survival but other issues with cancer are important too.
When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, one of my doctors told me I was very fortunate — to have an early stage garden-variety of breast cancer. I didn’t feel fortunate, though, not at all. I didn’t appropriately appreciate or comprehend his remark at the time. Now I get it. Even after surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and neuropathy, I am still going to call this cancer pale pink. As far as I know, I am not currently living with cancer and I have pretty good odds that breast cancer won’t return. (My melanoma is a different story for another day).
Why does breast cancer, especially early stage breast cancer, get so much attention, especially in October? What about metastatic breast cancer? What about all the other cancers in all the other parts of the body — and their early and advanced stages? Aren’t all cancer survivors in need of support? Aren’t all cancers in need of research dollars? To a pale pink survivor, this just feels crazy. I want to slink quietly around through October and wait for the pink to go away for another year.
I know I am not the only early stage breast cancer survivor who is bothered by this. It is actually kind of embarrassing, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to watch everything from yogurt cartons to building construction materials turn pink for a month. Some of us put our heads down all the way through October. Come on people, think beyond pink. Think beyond early stage breast cancer prevention and treatment. We need solutions when the cancer has spread — especially then. We need research to cure that too.
People with late stage cancer and uncommon cancers are justified in feeling angry and bitter. Those of us who have pale pink cancer have a moral obligation to help. We know what cancer is — we’ve lived it too. We understand the pain, the fear and the worry. Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem.
How can we address this? Make major companies aware that they need to get on board in supporting other types of cancer research. As pale pink survivors, support organizations and research institutions and hospitals that finance, research and treat all cancers. When you purchase pink products, pay careful attention to how many research dollars are truly getting donated by big businesses to help fight cancer.
Lobby for all cancers to be addressed. Raise public awareness and support. Hospitals and clinics could offer support groups or provide one-on-one volunteer support for each type of cancer — not just breast cancer. Every cancer would also benefit from strong online presences including websites and Facebook.
You would think we, as a society, are equally supportive to all cancers but we are not.
Think past pink. Unfortunately, there are many colors in the cancer rainbow.
I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 33. I was a single mom in a new town far from family. I had no friends and a new job that I had been at for less than a month. I don't think I fully realized what was going on until I had finished chemo, radiation, double mastectomy and a full hysterectomy. All I could think was that this wasn't real. This wasn't happening. But it was and it hit me hard. The hardest thing was that I could not have any more children. Even if someone would take me as I was. October is hard for me. I get angry at all the doctors appointments I had gone too leading up to my discovery. They would skip my breast exams "because you are so young". Could it have been found sooner? I will never know. I carry the Brac 2 genetic mutation. It is always in the back of my mind that I might not see my daughter graduate high-school. She was 4 when I was diagnosed. She has aspergers and I hope every day that she never has to watch me go through a treatment again. My only prayer is that they can find better treatments and doctors that care to actually do their job no matter how young or old a patient is.
Thank you to Justme (no worries about the extra posts) and to everyone else who is discussing my pink October article here. I am humbled and grateful for all your excellent thoughts and understandable frustrations. I wish I could have coffee and discuss with all of you. Excellent ideas, please keep them coming, and hopefully that will help get our ideas out there!
I have had exactly the same thoughts as you write about. Yes, breast cancer runs rampant in my family along with uterine cancer, (me), lung cancer (husband ), colon cancer, melanoma and more.
I'm ashamed to say I can't get excited about pink unless it "goe past pink".