October is notoriously known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Everything turns pink.
PINK + October = ‘Pinktober’
The NFL celebrates by having players wear pink cleats, wristbands, and more. Even some popular buildings ‘go pink.’
What do you think when you see ‘pink’ everywhere in October?
- Do you ignore it so you won’t get breast cancer one day?
- Do you wish it would all go away?
- Do you think breast cancer is all ribbons and balloons and pink fairy dust and a great month of fun?
#1 For Me
I am guilty of #1. I am. I am guilty of ignoring the whole ‘Pinktober’ so that it would go away. I am guilty of pretending that it didn’t exist. You see because I thought if I ignored it and would just get my mammograms and nurse my babies that I would avoid it and have a normal life. I thought that I would avoid the ‘1 in 8.’ I would not be the ‘1 in 8.’ That’s what I thought about ‘Pinktober’ and all of the pink everywhere.
I didn’t successfully avoid breast cancer. I was diagnosed in December of 2008.
One of my favorite movie quotes from Steel Magnolias is by the character, Shelby. Shelby is getting married and talks about her wedding colors being ‘blush and bashful.’ That’s what I see in October. Everything is ‘blush and bashful.’ We’ve got baloons and we’ve got ribbons that are blush and bashful. The NFL wears pink socks, arm bands, cleats and hand towels. I am thankful that everyone wants to honor breast cancer survivors but breast cancer is not that glamorous.
Let me tell you about breast cancer:
Breast cancer is evil!
Breast cancer is deceptive!
Breast Cancer is unpredictable.
Breast Cancer does not discriminate…it attacks:
- the average weight
- the under weight
- the overweight
- the old
- the young
- the person…no matter the color of your skin
On TV in October, you see all of the celebrations for survivors. Some survivors are honored by morning shows and others by football teams and they should be honored. But I’m sharing the story behind those smiles. (My story behind my smile.)
The treatment for breast cancer is grueling. The treatment plan depends on what stage the cancer is at diagnosis.
By the time I was diagnosed, I was Stage IIIa. The largest tumor in the lymph node in right axilla (underarm) was already 5.6 cm That’s HUGE! Get a ruler and check it out. I recently contacted the breast surgeon because I am writing a book. I wanted to be accurate. The nurse looked up my records and said, “Mrs. Starner, that measurement was 5.6 not 4.6.” I gasped!! I was speechless and it has been 6 years.
I’ve always compared the largest tumor to the size of a AA battery but after the information I received a two months ago, the tumor was the size of a 9 volt battery. I’m a miracle.
The second tumor in my right axilla was the size of 1/2 of a AA battery.
The tumor in my right breast was also the size of 1/2 of a AA battery.
Stage IIIa meant that I would start chemo right away. I had a flurry of scans and then my port surgery. Chemo started the day after my port was in. Once I found the right doctor, she had things moving and I had my first dose of chemo in approximately 2 weeks. It was necessary. There is nothing glamorous about chemo. I didn’t have pink balloons and pink ribbons waiting for me in the sterile chemo lab. I walked into this huge lab and there were about 20 chairs, side by side. I was petrified. My mom was so shaken when the nurse put the needle in my chest port that I saw the fear in her eyes as she watched me. She excused herself to go get a water bottle. No mom wants to see her daughter go through that. Still no pink balloons and ribbons, just reality. That was my new reality. It wasn’t glamorous at all. I endured 4 months of chemo, 2 surgeries, and 35 rounds of radiation.
It was a laser focused mindset:
- Get through chemo.
- Get through surgery.
- Get through radiation.
Breast cancer survivors don’t sit around think, “Oh, I can’t wait until it’s October.” You see for survivors Breast Cancer Awareness month is every single day that we look in the mirror and realize how blessed we are to be here…to be alive…
I am thankful to be alive!
So what do you think? Does ‘Pinktober’ glamorize breast cancer?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.