I didn’t realize I was going to feel such an affinity for this month. Last year on October 1st, day one of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I was having my fourth surgery. I did participate later in the month in Gainesville’s American Cancer Society walk but I didn’t own the month per se. Perhaps I was too much in the thick of things. This year, coming out of my sixth surgery a few weeks ago, this month feels very important to me and with that comes highs and lows.
Last year, as I sat in the waiting area of the hospital to have surgery, it was actually surreal to see so much hoopla on the TV screens. It was October 1st and any morning show you turned to was awash in pink with pink dressed commentators discussing breast cancer facts, trends and research.
This year, I actually set my alarm to wake up (I was still sleeping off my surgery a good bit at that point) to catch the morning shows, excited for the pink and the facts and the feeling of connectedness even though it’s virtual. And… nothing. 🙁 There was no pink. There was no mention. There was nothing but a regular day on TV. I get that decisions need to be made at big TV shows about the topics they cover and I can 100% picture a planning meeting where it comes up and someone says it was covered so big last year, let’s not repeat it… But they don’t get – it’s not for them. It’s not something that should be yea or nay’d in some production meeting. It’s for me. It’s for my fellow cancer patients. It’s for us.
(I will give a quick shout out to Wendy Williams. I don’t watch her show but while flipping through the channels to see if anyone was recognizing the day, I did see her in a pink dress with a ribbon pin – looking great.)
Sooo, the morning was a bummer. But I still had the afternoon when a local hospital was having their Pink It Up party to kick off the month. I had a t-shirt from last year’s walk. It was a little big and shapeless so I set out to make it my own. At first I was going to turn it into a tank top and found pretty neat instructions online on how to do so. As I laid it out to begin, I flipped it over to the back and right in the spot that would be squished and invisible from the tank making process was the word “SURVIVOR.” Along with the shirt last year, survivor’s received these Miss America-esque sashes that emblazoned the word. I loved wearing it at last year’s walk – it made me feel special while highlighting all the survivor’s making it easy for us to meet and greet each other along the route. I had to think of some other way to adjust the t-shirt and voila. Not necessarily good or bad but I liked it. 🙂
I went to the event and they really had tried. I appreciated that I could see their effort: A pink Christmas tree, pink dye added to the fountains outside, a pink chocolate fountain that admittedly looked gross and I wasn’t about to taste it but I give them props for trying, many vendors, and these furry friends. There were people running around in pink, some from head to toe. I thought, hey, my people… maybe? I asked a people if they were patients or survivors, most all said no. They were hospital helpers or volunteers. I actually only met four or five patient / survivors that day out of 200+ people. Seemed wrong. The marketing exec in me kept thinking about how I would have changed up the event starting with having an agenda with a Patient / Survivor Meet and Greet / pink lemonade toast during it.
Again, people who haven’t been through this don’t understand the connection that we as patients have and need. We can be completely open with each other – any time. For us, this doesn’t go away. I will always be a person who had breast cancer and I will always feel an affinity towards others and want to talk about it be it five months in or five to fifty years out.
Overall it was an okay October 1st. People liked my shirt and I liked making it. I got to eat a couple of rice krispie treats, always a bonus, and even if the day wasn’t marked by TV or others as I would have liked, I marked the day for myself and that’s what’s important.