Behind the Pink (Part 1)
It's been awhile since I've written a two parter, but October and all of it's Pink glory (ahem, madness..haha) has too many ups, downs, triggers, experiences, celebrations and just plain old emotions that I can't tackle it all in just one post. It's only the first week in October and I'm up to my eyeballs in being breast cancer aware. That's not a bad thing necessarily, but it is a "thing" nonetheless. With that said, I feel that it is a time, my time, to get up on my soapbox and get a few things off my chest because 1) I happen to have this BC soapbox and 2) I feel as though I've earned the right to use it. Cancer has taken a lot of things from me...too many to count actually. One thing that has stuck around though, and is perhaps a little amplified in these almost five years of survival, is my voice. To know me is to understand that in my whole life I've never been afraid to use it, but to understand me now is to know I feel it is my gift from someone higher to use it for a special purpose. You see, I've become incredibly passionate about saving my life since the fall of 2017. That passion has morphed into saving and honoring not just mine, but as many people's lives as my tiny, but mighty, voice can.
Pinktober, as it is referred to by many of us, brings up a lot of feelings, some of which are not positive. Pinkwashing gets annoying and the celebratory nature that some bring to this month can be down right hurtful. If often feels like some are celebrating breast cancer and "raising money for breast cancer" without giving any particulars as to exactly what they are specifically raising money for. Sometimes it feels like everyone is rallying around the abuser, not the abused. By no means am I trying to disregard the attempts by so many that want to show their support for the breast cancer cause by wearing pink shirts, a pink sports jersey or by buying the pink cookie at any local establishment. Awareness has in fact been linked to encouraging someone into getting the mysterious lump checked out or reminding someone else to schedule a mammogram. All good things, life saving stuff! What I'm trying to shed some light on, is that per the American Cancer Society, roughly 287,850 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed this year with 51,400 new cases of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). About 43,250 women will die from breast cancer this year alone. These humans, the cause, WE survivors need more than a celebratory attempt which results in our becoming a catch phrase for the month of October. Period, exclamation point! I responded to a tweet today from @ThanksCancer that posed the question why 90% of breast cancer survivors despise BCAM (breast cancer awareness month). My response was this: "Because it glosses over the STRUGGLE it is to be a survivor and all that it entails. It's also a 31 day reminder on top of your own constant reminders of how this disease has impacted your life. Nothing easy about it!". I would add to that now, that there doesn't seem to be much room for dialogue surrounding the numbers I shared with you or what survivors really need in order to make survival a little more tolerable or even where we are with a cure. Crickets when it comes to any of that. It seems to simply be a wear pink and donate to a cause that you're not really sure where your money is actually going kind of a thing. In all of the noise that this month brings, where is the help, the support or the attempt at taking some of this heavy burden off of our, my, shoulders? It's infuriating.
It actually goes a little deeper, at least for me. I feel like there needs to be more empathy and understanding about what it's like to live with this disease. Yes, there is magic to come from it, but it takes SO MUCH work to uncover it. Most breast cancer experiences and many days of treatment and survival are quite brutal. Our resilience is necessary in order to keep living and not lose all hope. I learned long ago, that cancer doesn't affect just your body. It impacts all avenues of your life....finances, religion/spirituality, relationships, your job and most importantly your mental health, just to name a few. Some days they all seem to be crashing down around me. Where I am right now, is trying to find some peace, resolution, connection, whatever, to God. His Angels have been guiding me and showing up when I need clarity on which way to turn. Randomly, earlier this week I came across a book by Lysa Terkeurst called "Seeing Beautiful Again". It has 50 devotions to find redemption in every part of your story. Without hesitation, I purchased it and jumped right in for day 1. It spoke to me and I'm happy to report that God has my attention. Am I cured? No. Is it a step in the right direction? You bet. She had me at: "Lord God, You often work in ways I don't understand. There are parts of my story that feel incredibly hard to live in, but I trust You are making something beautiful even out of those parts of my life."
This is me. Confused, a little angry, but trying with everything inside me to search for the beautiful parts and hold on until I see them. This is the awareness, the struggle, that I wish to spread to the masses. This is breast cancer, this is survival.
So wear the pink if you choose, but I challenge you to take it a step further. Think about why you are wearing pink! How has this disease impacted YOU? Is there another step in support of others you can take to DO SOMETHING that might impact a survivor, their family or where they seek treatment or find refuge? How can you honor someone living with breast cancer or someone who has passed because of it? Help us all to see beautiful again...please. Light that is found in the dark, no matter what hue of color it is, makes a huge difference.
To all of my Survivor Sisters.....Keep Going. 💗
Banners-Keeps Me Going
"In the middle of the pain you didn't cause, the change you didn't want, or the reality you didn't know was coming....your life can still be beautiful." -Lysa Terkeurst
There it is...hope. Part II coming at you following another round of scans and no doubt more BCAM learning experiences. Much love to all. Please, please, please...Keep on Killin' It. -M
Daily Reminders never hurt.... "I have raised you up for this very purpose"-Mia's closet 😉
Soap, meet Box....I'm honored to be a visual staple on Living Beyond Breast Cancer's (LBBC) new website! Completely surprised, humbled and honored. 👼🏻