Cancer

How I hate Pink Awareness Month!. I’ll introduce myself. Not because it… | by Kay Kay | Oct, 2021

How I hate Pink Awareness Month!

I’ll introduce myself. Not because it makes me right, entitled or even special but because it feels relevant as to the Why behind this title. It also feels important for me to start by sharing a core conviction of mine, the true belief that Cancer is not One size fit all and that we all have different journeys, different opinions, different coping mechanisms and different learnings.

So I write not because my views on the subject are or should be universal, but because it simply feels good to share and only if you’d like to read me.

I am a 40-year-old cancer patient. I have (or had) cancer in my left breast and have undergone chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and radiotherapy since being diagnosed. My tumor is not the easiest one to have (they classify it as a triple negative) but I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my treatment on so many levels and it has truly been an easier ride for me than for most other women (and men) struggling with cancer.

I am also a wife, a mom, a sister, a best friend, an annoying neighbor, an irritating acquaintance, a fun companion, and a marketer who also diligently budgeted for breast cancer awareness month including a pink marathon throughout her career pre-diagnosis!

What I am most certainly not is a hero or a warrior or a survivor. I am no stronger than my husband who’ve had his first heart stent at 38 or my friend who’s a mom to a severe allergic son. I am not more of a hero than my oncology nurse who’s done countless IVFs, had a host of miscarriages and has now been told she may never have a child. I am not stronger than our doctor who is struggling with renal failure or our family friend who lost a child to suicide. I am not more of a warrior than my neighbors who are the proud parents of a 10-year-old boy with muscle dystrophy and certainly not more of a warrior than the boy himself.

And what I am specially not is stronger/more resilient/more of a fighter than those great man and women whom cancer killed…

However, my issue with terminology is a debate for another time. Today I write for a different reason. I write because we’re the 13th of October and when I woke up this morning, my 8-year-old son asked me to wear pink to school for “cancer something” he said…

We debated as we usually do, we talked, I briefly explained that I had breast cancer (I had previously said I suffered from a severe lack of vitamins that made me lose my hair), we agreed on a pink mask and that was that.

I went for a walk and then it happened, an overpowering realization, a sudden deep acknowledgement of my low moods, my unjustifiable anger bursts, and my overall sadness since the beginning of October! I simply realized how much I truly, utterly, fundamentally dislike pink and breast cancer awareness month!

Please don’t misunderstand me! I am all for raising awareness, especially in countries where it’s still hush-hush to talk about breasts. I tremendously respect and admire all the efforts done on the cancer research front. I am grateful for the financial contributions generated thanks to the pink ribbon and I firmly believe we should never ever stop talking and advocating for early detection….

But we might have gone too far! We might have over-commercialized it. Did it become too much show and too little substance! Pink shirts, pink ribbons, pink muffins, pink shoes, pink drinks, pink MRI machines, pink masks (covid oblige), pink run….

I thought about all the posts I read this month and I felt it again: the anger, the sadness at seeing breast cancer become so gimmicky, turned — albeit non-intentionally- into a marketing stunt. We might have spent so much time organizing pink events that we lost track of what really matters…

And what really matters –at least for me- is this:

I don’t want my sickness to be a celebration; I don’t want people to run marathons during working hours because it’s fun; I don’t want my son to wear a pink t-shirt; I don’t want to eat pink food and I don’t want to lie on a pink cushion while doing my MRI.

I don’t want to buy pink cupcakes so that big food chains or corporations donate to cancer research (all kinds of cancer). I just want them to do it, any time they can, every time they can!

I want the sales team wearing pink shirts and pins in the lingerie shop to not wish me a Happy Pink Day. I want them to ask if there’s a reason I only need a certain type of bras and how best they can help.

I don’t want schools’ teachers, staff and students to wear pink shoes. I want them to talk to our children about the many breakthrough treatments we’re witnessing thanks to the efforts of amazing and cool scientists. I want them to encourage our children to become those scientists. But I also want them to give my son hope and alleviate his fears.

I want to hear about support groups in schools for parents dealing with cancer at home.

I don’t want my nurses to wear pink masks. I want them to ask me how I am… how I truly am. I want them to understand that I’m scared…Not scared of the loud noises or the machine induced claustrophobia (that too), but because every 3 months, I must muster all the courage I have to go through life changing tests and deal with the fear of recurrence! I want to look them in the eyes and know that they get it. I want them to help make my experience better.

I want to not have to wait a long time for my test results.

I don’t want to see people wearing pink wings. I want people to be kind, to not think breast cancer is contagious, to be guided on what to say and how to support…

I don’t want discounts or coupons. I want people to come together and contribute so that everyone can get proper care. EVERYONE.

I want governments to help, not just help but impose regulations that make a difference.

I don’t want pink panels. I want the possibility where I live to accompany new patients to their first chemo sessions.

I don’t want wannabe funny ads about my breasts or catchy slogans like Save the Boobies!

And if companies wish to pamper me- and I do want to be pampered — I want to be showered with massages, home cooked meals, reflexology, relaxing spas- you name it- without it being advertised on ONE single channel!

It’s hell. Cancer patients go through hell. All cancer patients. Scrap this. All sick people go through hell. I am sure we can do better. I am sure humanity can do better. A more meaningful approach: more helpful talks, more financial contributions, more structured platforms, more depth, more kindness, more authenticity…

Lastly and most of all, I want to feel less overwhelmingly lonely inside when everyone else is wearing pink and running in my name outside!

Karen-Just another cancer patient.


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