Usually at this time of year, I send out an email blast urging all my friends and family– and anyone whose address I may have — a reminder that, since it’s October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a good time to get a mammogram or screening, do a self exam and tell another person, or two, to do the same.
I am late but plan to do that task sometime today.
And to mark the first day of October yesterday, I proudly wore my pink Lucy shirt, one that features a cartoon girl kick boxing — to represent kicking breast cancer’s ass. I won it on a breast cancer blog two years ago during an October breast cancer giveaway.
I am a firm believer in using the color pink as a way to spread breast cancer awareness. At least in October, when people see that color, it is a way for them to stop and give themselves a once over — for a woman to make sure the girls are working properly and for a man to stop and check himself as well.
Yup. I can personally attest to the fact that men can, and do, get breast cancer. My dad died of metastatic breast cancer in 1990. My neighbor was luckier. He discovered his lump, had surgery and radiation and is doing great.
Although the color pink is not first in my day-to-day fashion choice, I do have a lot of pink things now. It wasn’t until many years after I was diagnosed with breast cancer that I had the good sense to come out in public and say “Yeah, I had breast cancer at 30 and I am here to tell you that early detection is the best protection.”
So I bought a bunch of pink things, registered for some breast cancer awareness walks (which I loved) and decided to be an advocate for the disease. And at 44, I am now a 14 year survivor and am trying to do my best to spread the word.
I will never forget my first Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. I looked out to a sea of pink — more than 3,000 women and men on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Boston — wore the hue in some way shape or form to walk the 40 miles for themselves or someone else. It was moving. And while it probably would have been moving had there not been any chosen color, looking out and seeing all those people in some shade of pink made me cry. And my friends who were doing the walk with me were awe-inspired as well.
Recently I have heard and read that the use of the color pink to denote breast cancer awareness has come under scrutiny by some who say it is more of a marketing or packaging gimick than anything else.
To that I say phooey.
I personally think that the creation of Breast Cancer Awareness Month with the pink ribbon and use of the color pink is a great idea. It’s a chance for people to help people with out doing anything other than wearing something pink. It’s a chance to see manufacturers give something to a charity for doing nothing more than presenting a different choice to their customers. It’s a chance to say ‘hey, we care.’
So, while I think it’s a great idea, I realize not everyone does.
But I am sure everyone does know someone who has had, is fighting or has died of some form of cancer.
So whether you choose pink, or blue for colon cancer, or orange for leukemia or any color for cancer in general, when you do that, you are creating awareness for something near and dear to you.
Dear people, don’t judge me because my cancer color is pink and the most recognizable. And please don’t NOT buy a York Peppermint Patty or a Yoplait yogurt or any other product that goes pink for October to spite the marketing. Buy the product you want and, if its packaging is pink for BCA, maybe, just maybe, you’ve helped someone in line behind you think about getting a breast cancer screening.
I think about it this way — breast cancer awareness and the color pink wouldn’t be so big if there wasn’t such a huge population of women and men who have had the disease.
In my immediate family, four out of six of us got the diagnosis. I have two sisters-in-law both diagnosed, one first cousin who had it and last year, we lost a second cousin to the disease last year. In my little town, I have personally met 8 women and 1 man who were diagnosed. I found out that two friends from high school were diagnosed with it last year and recently heard that breast cancer claimed one girl from high school whose family is now motherless because of it.
There are countless others and then there are the friends and family I know with leukemia, skin cancer, ovarian cancer, brain cancer, throat cancer, oral cancer and kidney cancer.
Cancer is cancer is cancer is cancer.
So if you ask, I will wear the awareness color for the cancer you are passionate about during your cancer awareness month. I’d even buy a product that changes its packaging to promote an awareness.
Mine is still pink. And I am proud to wear it.