I Love Komen’s Pink Ribbons

My Name is Lisa—I ♥ Pink.

I’ve “met” a lot of awesome breast cancer survivors/bloggers since I started my blog.  The thing that’s so neat is that while we may not agree with the other’s point of view, we respect the person.  That just doesn’t happen in the real world, unfortunately.  Some of my favorite bloggers have pink-aversion.  I try to understand it, really I do, but I still ♥ Komen and pink breast cancer ribbons.

I’d like to present snippets of my fellow bloggers’ thoughts regarding “pink” because what they have to say needs to be heard.   I encourage you to read their entire posts so you have a full understanding of their opinions, because I’m only posting some parts pertaining to “pink.”  I  get what they are saying, but I can’t diss the pink, which I’ll explain below.

Stacey, Bringing Up GoliathMy brother asked if I’m anti-pink.  Not exactly.  Like so many these days, I’m against what “pink” has come to represent. The happy-go-lucky, early stage, still having fun, never sick, all is right in the world, let’s get coffee with perfect hair and makeup, cancer survivor.  My skin prickles at this unrealistic vision created by major marketing machines.

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The thing is, it hasn’t worked.  Thirty years, no cure and more questions than answers.  The promise most of us grew up with, has yet to come true.  We’re still being told we have breast cancer.

Nancy, Nancy’s PointRecently someone said to me, I’m paraphrasing here, you bloggers need to be careful not to alienate people about pink. Most people are just trying to do the right thing. Most people are just trying to do something.

I get that.

Whenever I write a post I always try to bear this in mind. It is never my intention to put anyone down for buying pink stuff, wearing pink ribbons, running in races or donating to their favorite charity. I think doing any or all of these things is wonderful. In fact, if truth be told, I still like pink.

But turning everything pink this month is just not good enough!

Katie, Uneasy PinkI know why we would rather look at people in cute pink boas and capes racing for a cure instead.  I understand it way down into my gut.

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The question is… do we care enough about REAL awareness?

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That’s why I won’t wear the pink shirt.  That’s why I know we’re not racing for a cure.  That’s why I wanted to spit on all the teenage boys wearing their FBI – Female Boobie Inspector shirts at this year’s race.

None of it has anything to do with reality.

That’s why pink has me down this year instead of angry.

I can’t say it eloquently enough; I know what I feel in my heart.  Have I been pink-washed?  I don’t know.  Honestly, I was clueless about breast cancer and Komen five years ago, and I’m not sure I’m that much more informed now.  I just know I can never tell Lovely Daughter that the pink she wears every single day in October doesn’t mean anything.  It does; it means that, God-willing, she understands how important self-awareness of her body is to her future health.  It means she loves me and is aware, and acknowledges, the pain I’ve gone through.   Do I care if she wears a shirt that says:  Save the Ta-Tas?  Absolutely, positively not.   (By the way, those are her hands above.)  Did (or do) I expect cure for cancer in my lifetime?  No.  Would it be awesome?  It would be unbelievable.  So would a cure for AIDS.  So would ending world-wide hunger.  Could I tell the men and women below that the Komen Rally tennis tournament last Sunday meant nothing?  It meant everything to me; their generosity humbles me.  The women who walk the Race for a Cure as a member of “Lisa’s Ladies”?  You should be so lucky to have those friends in your life.  Do I think the money raised goes toward research and research only?  No.  Without marketing, funds are not successfully raised and without money being raised research is hindered.  Don’t tell me pink isn’t “real awareness.”  You are giving it attention (e.g., awareness), are you not?

To be angry about pink is a waste of good energy!  Comments such as, “pepto-pink sea makes me turn my head and shut my eyes,” ” Pink is covering up the reality of the disease,” makes me sad.  Pink isn’t offensive to me; anger about millions of people just trying to help by wearing pink is what is offensive to me.

Maybe I just have pink-colored glasses on all the time.  Maybe I wear it just for me and my fellow sisters; I hope they don’t think I’m not into “real awareness.”  I just know that if coloring my hair pink and marching down the streets of Little Rock with 55,000 “friends” helps in even a teeny, tiny amount to not only find a cure for cancer, but develop better chemo drugs, or provide a wig or scarf, or just make one woman perform a self-exam, then I will wear my pink ribbons.

5 Years–So What Now?

What the heck does it really mean?

During the past week’s headlines regarding the fraud allegations I filed against my former boss (a big WAHOO for auditors), I realized I passed the five-year anniversary of my breast cancer diagnosis.  For five years I’ve been asked  “How many years? ” I’ll reply “Two,” “Four,” etc.  Okay, now I’m at five years post diagnosis, and what’s the big deal?  I don’t feel any different.  I’m not less scared that a recurrence will happen.  I still look the same.  No doctor called to congratulate me.   Now that I have time to sit and digest this little tidbit, I’m curious.  Someone once told me that if I lived to the five-year mark then my odds of developing cancer are the same as someone who never had cancer.  But, I’ve had cancer. . . .  Someone said I’m cured.  Really, then why am I still taking Aromasin?  Why am I still having scans? So, I survived five years, now what?  Is there another magic number I need to meet?

According to the National Cancer Institute:

The 5-year survival rate indicates the percentage of people who are alive 5 years after their cancer diagnosis, whether they have few or no signs or symptoms of cancer, are free of disease, or are having treatment. Five-year survival rates are used as a standard way of discussing prognosis as well as a way to compare the value of one treatment with another. It does not mean that a patient can expect to live for only 5 years after treatment or that there are no cures for cancer.  Blah, blah, blah.

According to Komen,

It is important to keep in mind that relative survival compares survival rates between women with breast cancer to women in the general population. For example, the five-year relative survival for stage II breast cancer is 92 percent. This means that women with stage II breast cancer are, on average, 92 percent as likely as women in the general population to live five beyond their diagnosis. Women with stage 0 (DCIS) or stage I breast cancer are just as likely as women in the general population to live five more years. As with overall survival, these rates are averages and vary depending on each person’s diagnosis and treatment. Blah, blah, blah.

I could go one and one with what I’ve found re:  five-year survival rate, five-year mark, five years after cancer diagnosis, etc.  I really don’t (but I kind of do) understand why this five-year anniversary is important.  Or maybe it really isn’t.

You tell me: what the heck does the five-year mark mean to you?

The Cancer Club

A New Kind of Sisterhood.

In the 70’s and 80’s  sisterhood meant stealing my older sister’s diary and telling my younger sister all the juicy details.  It meant tattling.  It was Barbies.  It was hunting for Easter eggs.  It was building a raft to float a river drainage ditch.

It seems I’ve been placed in a new category of sisterhood that five years ago I didn’t even know existed.  Honestly, I kind of miss the days when ignorance was bliss.

It’s not that I don’t have commonalities with these new sisters.  Chemotherapy.  Radiation.  Pink.  Surgery.  Scars.   Pain.  The list goes on and on.

I notice these new sisters at the grocery store.  At the gas station.  At  doctors’ offices.  We instantaneously  recognize each other, which I don’t understand because my hair has long since grown back.  How do they tell I’m one of them?  Urgh, tell me how do I leave this club?  Can I tell them I don’t really belong in this “exclusive” club? There must have been a mistake.  No one in my family has had cancer.  Seriously, it must have been a fluke.  Let me out of here!

Nope.   They won’t let me leave.  They hug and embrace me (well, if I don’t hug and embrace them first!).  They understand (and help) my fight to raise funds for breast cancer research.   They listen to me when I tell them my aggravation with the American Cancer Society.  We talk about doctors.  We share tips.  We speak in secret code that no one from the “outside” can understand.

We’re always praying that we’re closed to new members.  To put is simply kiddo, we really don’t want you in our club.  However, for me, I think I’m staying.

Saturday Snapshot

Komen Rally done, we're off to the Race!

Meet My Pink Co-Survivor

Whenever I want throttle my kid, she throws me for a loop and the moment passes.  Look for her—she’s the one wearing pink every day in October (want to see a pink shirt get good use; send it this way because it will receive exposure!).

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer four years ago, among the shock, horror, and disbelief was this little 5′ pink star who became, in essence, the bell that notified Better Half when something was wrong.  Like a little fairy, she hovered quietly, listening, watching.  She wouldn’t, or couldn’t, talk to me about my cancer.  The only time I saw her laugh was when she, Better Half, and myself held a shaving party.  My hair was falling out in clumps; I needed a good shave.  A shaving party.   They were laughing and smiling, fumbling with the shaver, trying to make me feel better.  I was wobbly, sick.  I felt like I was dying inside, but that day there were two pink stars beside me. . . .

When I had my last chemo treatment, my family came to watch me ring the bell signaling I was done.  Finished.  Hopefully.  My daughter was 16 and More

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