Saturday, October 31, 2009
Now don't go getting me wrong, I really do appreciate the fact stores scramble to display pink teddy bears, bags and pink ribbon magnets for everyone to purchase but I have to stop and ask myself is this pink washing or helpful to the cause?
I guess it started for me when I walked into one of our local grocery stores a few weeks back and was just blown away by what I saw; the whole store seemed to have gone pink. There were signs here and signs there, buy this and buy that. Everything from the soups, to the chips to the go green take home bags were pink or had pink ribbons on them.
I was a bit overwhelmed to tell you the truth. I felt as if I was being devoured by a larger than life size pink cotton candy monster! So if I felt this way then how did the rest of the non breast cancer customers feel? So this is where it gets a bit harry for me; do I give into this" Let's go Pink for a Cure" or do I stand down? Seriously this is a dilemma for me. But maybe not for the reasons you think.
(Yes I am aware a good amount of funds do not go to breast cancer research. My thoughts on this are: Going pink to encourage support and to take part in the "go get your boobies squashed campaign is fine", BUT make sure people know you are not contributing funds to the cause! Many would still buy the products, make note of the cause and even give them as gifts to breast cancer survivors. )
Let me let you in on a secret most breast cancer survivors won't admit too except only to one another: We have a love and hate relationship with the color PINK! Yep, love it, hate it, make it go away, and then embrace it all over again! I have said many times we are a different breed. We are fighters, strong, passionate, sometimes fearful and insecure, uncertain for sure and at the end of the day we are SURVIVORS who not only bleed pink but end up wrapped in a pink ribbon for life.
Just a couple weeks back I was honored to take part in a local story related to Alisa Murray's Hope and Inspiration Calendars. If you are not familiar with her work, Alisa puts a personal touch on breast cancer with not just a quote, or a story but through the art of photography. Just last year the boys and I were featured for the month of February in her 2009 calendar. I was honored on this day as I spent several hours with four wonderful and beautiful survivors of all ages and backgrounds. All of our stories were different but there was one common thread between us and it was we all survived breast cancer!
As I was leaving I overheard one of these women ask this question, “Have you noticed now that you have had breast cancer everyone seems to give you all pink gifts?" It made me giggle because I knew the feeling. It's not a bad thing at all. In fact receiving the gift of pink means a lot to me, I am not ashamed or afraid of the color pink.
In fact when I receive a gift bearing the color pink I am touched and I take to heart it means more people, mostly women, are thinking about breast cancer. I know my heart skips a beat every time my precious boys pick up something pink and I hear the words," Mommy, Mommy look! It's pink, it's for breast cancer!" But I will tell you hearing those words is also a two edged sword through the gut because our children are too young to relate to pink as they do. But just as I was not given a choice in the matter, sadly neither were they.
So again I ask is it good to paint the town pink? Well yes and no. Am I straddling the fence? No and let me tell you why. I feel if letting the pink cotton candy monster lose saves just one life then how can anyone argue? BUT it is also a double edged sword too because too many people have become deaf to the cause, basically they have become used to seeing the color pink up they don't see or acknowledge the meaning behind the color anymore. It has no personal meaning for them so they ignore it. Sure maybe they throw some change into the collection plate but do they really care, do they really understand why supporting breast cancer awareness is so important?
Many even know a breast cancer survivor, have had their lives touched by the beast but she survived, what's the big deal now right? You would be surprised how many hold this view. Believe me I know because after reaching remission I have seen many "In the fight. Let's wear pink" drop out of my life. Many begin to think and feel the next person will pick up their sword and sadly what happens is in the end id you are left standing alone with your sword in hand and countless more on the ground around you because everyone else has lost interest in fighting the pink beast.
So these are my thoughts on all this as we close out October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month: If we are going to paint the town pink then let's educate the town as well, put our personal touches on the color pink and open up our own lives and stories to the world. Because if we just sit on the curb and fuss about the pink paint, close our eyes and ignore this time of the year then how are we any different from the people who hide blindly to the cause? How will lives be saved from this beast if we stay on the sidelines?
I say it's time we as survivors take back the color PINK and make it personal again. Let’s be part of the solution as Fight Pink (http://www.fightpink.org/) or part of the transformation as Alisa is with her calendars ( http://www.alisamurray.com/ )What do you say? Are you in? Let's come together next year, October 2010, and make a difference, shout it loudly to the world and make PINK ours again!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 9, 2009
A sea of survivors, mothers, fathers, little ones, babies in pink slings, children in wagons and teens holding the hands of their mothers and grandmothers walking some 3.1 miles in honor and in memory of those they love turned out to raced and walked together side by side. Yes we were there to make a difference and to raise the battle call but we were also there to remember and to take quiet pause for those we have lost.
For just a moment let me share my own thoughtful insight here with those who may ask how 33, 000 women, men and children wearing pink and all kinds of crazy ensembles can do anything but crowd the streets? Well let me tell you we were not just there to spread awareness or to fundraise for a cure stripping the pockets of everyone in our path. NO, we were there to walk for what could be... a world without the stinging claw of breast cancer. We were there to make a change, to spread our wings and breakaway from the poison of chemo, radiation and death. We were there to embrace those survivors and pay tribute to the fallen among us.
We come every year to walk in the pouring rain, the sweltering heat and humidity. We walk with crazy hats, pink wigs, smiling and somber faces, fresh scares and old ones. We walk for hope and for life, to make our mark and to hold the hands and the hopes of tomorrows generation living inside each one of us.
There is an old Beatles song called Black Bird. The lyrics go like this: " Blackbird singing in the dead of night. Take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life you were only waiting for this moment to arise. Blackbird fly, Blackbird fly into the light of the dark black night."
Many through the years have asked the meaning behind this song, well I can tell you in my own life these lyrics apply to my own battle with breast cancer and the reason for why we come together and crowd your streets once a year.You see my friend for so many of us the weight of breast cancer seems to hold an ending we do not want to face, to know or to feel. This is the life we lead without a choice. It is not simple, never easy but this is the one thing I know: Nothing have I ever seen as beautiful as 1, 194 SURVIVORS of BREAST CANCER adored in pink, side by side, embracing, crying, laughing and bringing light into the dark black night together.
So I ask you my friend this month as you see the ads and the pink ribbons spread through out your day take a moment to remember those we have lost and to encourage those men and women who have survived breast cancer. Wear something pink in their honor, take a moment and say a prayer, light a candle for the Pink Warriors still fighting. You need no heavenly sign to embrace those you know who have survived.... just open arms and an open heart.
Nothing has changed my life as Breast Cancer has, but God's grace has led me through each step and each mile. I would never have chosen this path for my life but now that I am here navigating these seas I would not change my course for all the money in the world. I am stronger , deeper and my life has more clarity than I could ever have imagined since 2006 intimately introduced me to a life of Pink Ribbons.
Even though many days the miles have seemed longer than they should I have grown in this life which was chosen for me. My life has been given new meaning and I am better for the men and women I have embraced along this journey. So what do you say? Will you jump in, take my hand and take this leap of hope with me? As for me, well I will continue to dance, to walk and to crowd downtown Houston's streets turning the streets pink for as long as I am given breath to do so. So watch out for us during this month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and every other month in between for as Josephine Hart says, "Damaged people are dangerous. They know they can survive."