When I was about nine, my mother decorated my room in pink and white. I had striped café curtains with canopy valances, pink walls and bedspreads, and a white desk and trim. I’m not at all sure why she picked pink – it really wasn’t me. I was a tomboy, and my favorite color was blue. It still is.
However, I now have a growing affection for pink.
I’m a breast cancer survivor (I finished treatment ten years ago next month), and as it happens, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Everywhere you turn in the US and Canada, there is a “Race for the Cure” or pink paraphernalia for sale to support research and awareness efforts.
There are many other cancer research efforts, of course. Ribbons in a rainbow of colors promote awareness of these and other diseases. Lavender ribbons are for general cancer, teal for ovarian cancer, light blue for prostate cancer, and so on. But everyone knows what that pink ribbon is for.
People buy wristbands, car magnets, tote bags, t-shirts, and mugs to show their solidarity and support. The items available are sometimes whimsical and silly, but the folks who oversee various fundraising efforts for breast cancer research have done an amazing job – even stamps at the post office and my bottled water are branded in pink this month, with some of the proceeds of their purchases going to the effort.
This may feel a bit overdone, and even tacky, to some people. Some of the vendors may not be legit. But for those like me (and others in my extended family) who have survived the surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, side effects and associated fears that accompany breast cancer, they are a sweet reminder of the many people who have supported research and treatment options that have made our survival and quality of life possible.
But wait, there’s more! Research and treatment centers are only part of the pink ribbon campaign. The other side is awareness. If you have a family history of any cancer (or heart disease, or diabetes…), make sure your doctor is aware of that. And even if you don’t know of a family history, make sure you have the regularly recommended screenings for these diseases as you get older.
Nobody enjoys a mammogram, prostrate screening, a colonoscopy, or blood tests – but these procedures take only a few moments out of your life. They can give you back years for the effort. Fight with your insurance carrier, if you need to – or figure out how to make this investment in your future – just please don’t ignore it.
Ten years from now and beyond, it’s my hope that we will all still be here sharing our thoughts, our hopes, and our gratitude for the many gifts our maker, this world, and the people around us have provided.
Even if they come in pink.
Think Pink from Funny Face – one of my favorite movies! Thanks, YouTube!
A few related sites: