Fifty Shades of Pink

It’s that time of year again. It has nothing to do with leaves, and nothing to do with Halloween, however much the stores would have you believe otherwise. October has been chosen to spotlight breast cancer awareness, and those of us who have ridden that wave need to be prepared for the reprise of attention to it.


Back a few years ago when I was a newly minted post treatment person this focus would raise my ire to uncharted heights. When only a few months past my year and half of treatment, the last thing I wanted was a reminder of days watching red liquid drip into my veins, or trying to remember which of my new arsenal of medications was the one that would combat the waves of nausea that threatened to overtake me.


As my locks were gradually regaining their curly bounce I did not want to look at Pink Patriots, Pink lines on the road or pink soup cans. Shocking pink took on new meaning.


And yet, faced with the awareness that all this fuss is in the name of helping, I am not ungrateful. Maturing three or four years in my post wave riding state,  my irritation did abate a bit. Each year I still need to take a breath and prepare for the commercials and media onslaught but this year I am trying a new strategy. Just as it can be irritating when someone hammers near you, but it is not bothersome if you are the one making the noise, I have decided that I will take advantage of this time to try to help my sisters and brothers who are still suffering as they navigate the waves. This year I will post daily from my perspective of being in treatment.


It is not just medical advances which make a difference. They are vital, critical, and I bow not only to my team who buoyed me, teased me, assured me, listened to me and treated me like a human first, but to the researchers behind the scenes who we don’t have occasion to thank in person. They are like the technical people in a stage production who work the magic and tread lightly across the stage dressed in black so that they continue to go unnoticed.


For our part as Riders of the Wave, we can remember to take each day as it comes, not making assumptions about what will come, whether it is a treatment day, a surgery day, a day at work or at the opera. If we are paying attention to our lives, really enjoying when our cat purrs in his sleep or that the vegetables on the grill are cooked to perfection, we are paying tribute to those who helped us to get here. If revenge is living well, so too is it an expression of gratitude, a kick in the teeth to a disease that tried to bring us down.


Our celebrations, our victories are contagious and our responsibility.


If I can see each pink ribbon as a smile, each pink colander, tee shirt, helmet or road stripe as a wink, perhaps I can retract my claws around my response. At least I can try.

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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.