Pinktober revisited

October 26, 2014

Usually around this time in October I have started my rant about the excess of pink in my world. It has often started even before the month begins, anticipating pink on the Patriots, pink on my gel pens, pink in every window and advertisement. My lip begins to curl in anticipation, ready to snap at any random pink loop that enters my peripheral vision.

This year, however, I’m finding that not only am I not feeling inundated, I’m wondering where all the pink has gone. I’m not sure whether this is because of a drop in pinkdom, a desensitization of my pink observation skills, or whether I’m simply not bothered as much.

At the end of September I had my semi annual chat with my oncologist about the medication I still pop each morning. We agreed that I’m coming down the home stretch with it—my last six months. Wisdom had changed when I approached the prior five year total medication landmark to stretch to a total of seven in my case since I switched from Tamoxafin to Aromasin after two years. I remember being disappointed at the time because I thought I would be free of this daily homage to my breast cancer treatment.

When I mentioned to one woman whose daughter has had cancer treatment that I’m coming into the last few months for real, she answered, “Oh, that’s too bad. No more insurance policy.” Hmm. I hadn’t been looking at it that way. I suppose in some ways this tiny pill has been providing an invisible shield, warding off future entanglements with the breast cancer demons. It is still remarkable that the greatest protection from recurrence is contained within this small white circle.

But I am ready to fly without this net. Along with protection has come a few side effects: some sweats and waves of nausea that my oncologist has encouraged me to endure if they’re not too severe. I have ben regarding the medication as a link to that year and half of treatment: five months of chemotherapy followed by surgery, six weeks of radiation and two subsequent more minor surgeries around the reconstruction. My shift to be free of it is inviting. It feels like the opening of possibilities, a recognizing of distance between Then and Now.

So perhaps it is this same distance which affords me the space to see the pink invasion with new eyes. It serves not so much as an annoying reflection of my own difficult times as a reminder that I am no longer in that place. I want so very much for the attention on this research to continue, for more and more people to receive better treatment, or less treatment, if that can be more effective. And I want people to know that regardless of diagnosis, there is help, there is information and there is living to be done before, during and after treatment. None of it has to be done alone.

So bring on the pink— before the month fades to black. And orange.

Meg Stafford, author of Topic of Cancer: Riding the Waves of the Big C can be reached at megstaf@aim.com. Her book comes out in audio version soon.

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