We are days away from closing out October 2013, another pink month and official recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness.
The symbolic pink ribbons remind us of, not only the struggle, but also the ultimate goal of curing breast cancer. This author is among those fortunate to report that after a double mastectomy and a second recurrence of breast cancer, my aunt, is again cancer free. While my aunt is cancer free, she is not issue free. There are still post surgery trips to the doctors because of drainage problems at the surgery site, "repeated syringing, including one syringe that had to remain for 17 days. A common problem for those who once underwent radiation therapy," aunt Jen tells me. "Wow," I think to myself. "The effects of this disease are never ending..."
Pink ribbons have been everywhere: on posters, on household cleaning products, even on a strange little shot glass-like bottle that promises to give you energy for five hours (I guess it would be tricky to place a pink ribbon on a simple good night sleep).
This year, I even noticed a new pink ribbon in what will be its permanent location: tattooed on my aunt! One tattoo is of the symbolic pink ribbon and another bidding farewell to breast cancer. Um, what?! I like the tattoos, but this threw me. After all, a tattoo is so... permanent. A permanent reminder of something that I wish for everybody could not evolve past the temporary. It seemed strange to me to see the symbol of something I hoped would permanently be in my aunt's past now affixed in her present.
I later realized that the true incongruity was my inability to perceive the unwavering and "never ending" courage being displayed before me in this ink. My aunt and what I would imagine many survivors acquire, is a profound understanding that until there is a cure and even after that, there will always be an inextricable link to the lived experience of breast cancer.
Ironically, my initial reaction only served to reveal my privilege. As I was not directly called upon to find the courage to stare cancer in the face and bravely stay the journey into its remission, I could now spend time subconsciously worrying about what the proximity of this pink tattoo cosmically indicated for my family (I'm shaking my head even as I write this). I have recognized my folly and have returned my energies to a realm of use: applauding my aunt Jennifer and many thousands out there just like her.
Well done to all the Aunt Jennifers out there whom I do not know by name, but absolutely applaud your example. Your courage allows researchers the time needed to find a cure.
In preparation for this offering, I did a little research, wishing to share some ground-breaking, underground discovery that us non-scientists can comprehend in the advancement of breast cancer research. It took me a second to again remember that the more early detections and commitment to wellness we procure for the battle, the more lives we can expect to emerge proclaiming a distance from the worst of it.
That people continue to live and thrive past breast cancer is the news.
My aunt's life is a testament to this trend...a trend towards longer and fulfilled lives. Substitute or add the names of thousands of other survivors in place of my aunt's and there, you will see the pink victory of life against daunting odds.
That is indeed ink worthy... I get it now Auntie.
Aunt Jen...Pinked for the cause
"It has been a difficult 18 months and at times I do get down and think why me again, but the important thing is that I am alive and have beaten breast cancer for a second time and I look forward to being cancer free for many years to come. Life does go on after cancer and can be as normal as one wishes it to be." -- Jennifer Seymour
Ironically, Aunt Jen and I have more in common on the other side of the double mastectomy... um, I think we're now the same cup size (I've always known I'd have to marry a leg man). Now that I can no longer wear one of Auntie's bra cups as a shower cap, I think she's going to need my help in navigating this brave new world of standing upright, you know, unassisted.
Come Aunt! There is much to teach you, young grasshopper!
Fight on Pinked People!