#PinkPower ? #PinkTober ? #IfightTODAY ?
Damn. It’s October 1st.
Freaking #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth is here again in all it’s glorious hues of Pepto Bismol pinkness.
I hate it. I hate the month of October now. Every time you turn on the TV or walk into a grocery store or go anywhere it’s all about pink. I don’t even like pink as a color much anymore.
I’m one of the lucky ones as I am an eight year survivor of breast cancer. But some days it has been a fight. And recently it has been a fight again as I have developed slight lymphedema in my left foot eight years into Tamoxifen and post treatment and surgery.
I also have balance issues which I think can be attributed as well to living post breast cancer and specifically wondering when people will talk about Tamoxifen toxicity?
I also am growing cataracts directly attributable to Tamoxifen. At least when they finally ripen I can have them removed.
And the hot flashes over the past few months? They have been brutal.
Please understand I am not deliberately trying to be negative but I’m just trying to prove that the reality of living with breast cancer or living with having had breast cancer isn’t fairies and rainbows and pink flowers and pink balloons and pink T-shirts and pink plastic bracelets it’s a very real thing.
I do agree, however, with Hoda Kotb from The Today Show that breast cancer can be a new beginning. I have said it since the beginning that having breast cancer freed me to be the person I actually want to be. It freed me to a better life. And that’s for a very simple reason: when you face your own mortality you realize there’s a lot more to life than you have been experiencing. You cease to be afraid to take chances and expand your mind, life, horizons.
But every time PinkTober comes around it triggers something in me. All the constant talk of breast cancer just makes me anxious. And when you see the commercialization of PinkTober it makes me honestly upset as well.
Today is one of those days that I don’t feel pink pretty or light and fluffy for having survived breast cancer for eight years. I feel a little tired, unattractive and unlovely. I look in the mirror and I see uneven breasts that get more pronounced as time goes by because The left breast which had a good chunk of it removed and then was completely irradiated is dead tissue for the most part and it continues to shrink.
Yet I know in my heart of hearts that reconstructive surgery wasn’t for me. I think there are more than enough problems with fake boobs.
I have friends who live with stage four metastatic breast cancer. I don’t think they see it as pink and fluffy either. A woman I know who isn’t even a friend has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and is facing a double mastectomy. She has two children and a family.
This is not something I would literally wish on my worst enemy or even people I don’t care for.
But I think the pink of it all during the month of October isn’t empowering I find it diminishing. And I think it’s because of all the commercialization of PinkTober.
I am all for lifting women up and supporting women dealing with this disease. You get your diagnosis and you are a lifetime member of a sorority you didn’t sign up for. It’s a lot. It can be overwhelming it can make you feel powerless. But I don’t think a pink T-shirt is going to make me take my power back on days when I’m feeling a little down. And I’m someone who is an eight year survivor saying that!
I am all for people being supportive of those of us who are newly diagnosed, going through treatment, about to have surgery, and who are survivors.
But I’m not a goddamn pink powder puff girl. I’m a grown ass woman and so are all of you out there dealing with this disease.
During the month of PinkTober, do something nice for yourself. Pay it forward with legitimate charities and volunteer your time or make a donation to them.
But save your money on things like pink cupcakes, pink T-shirts, pink plastic bracelets, pink hats, and all the pink products that the manufacturers want you to buy in the grocery store during October. If you want to give back do it in a way that is more meaningful and where your money will actually mean something. PinkTober products are a marketing scam for corporate America as much as anything else.
Charities I like are still:
So #IfightTODAY I ask you people to look beyond the PINK. Survivors are all different we are not a homogenous glob of pinkness.
Am I a survivor? Oh hell yes. And I made my choice to be positive throughout my treatment. It has made a huge difference in my life. And I am not being negative now and I don’t want people to think that — I am just being a realist and there are so many of us that dread #PinkTober.
Eight years later I still think we can lift breast cancer patients up without coating them in PINK.
That is all.