Breast cancer, Health, October Breast Cancer Awareness, Pink Ribbons, Strong Women, Wisdom

Why Pink Makes Me Cringe

It’s not Pink, the singer, that stirs up ambivalent feelings in my soul, it’s the color pink linked to October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s all the pink stuff beyond the commemorative ribbons. It’s pink deodorant containers, buckets of chicken, yogurt lids, pens, bottles, garden tools, and such. I can’t even look at Pepto-Bismol bottles anymore.

Before sticks and stones are thrown my way, please hear me out.  The end of next month marks the 7thyear from the last chemo session I had. That’s the date I considered myself cancer free. 

There was an eighth session scheduled in mid-December for chemo but I was so friggin’ tired of being tired, having pain, throwing up, (fill in any adjective for miserable) that I skipped it. I wanted to make tamales with my family, as I had since I was a child, and I wanted to celebrate Christmas in my living room, not from my bed. 

So I said “F-K It,” I’m not doing this anymore.


I still don’t know whether I based my decision on fatigue or it was a grasp at self-determination. Maybe it was both. Probably. I do remember feeling particularly powerless at that time. There are the ambivalent feelings of life and death, hair and no hair, sorrow and hope, regrets and plans, hell days and heaven days. Load these into a blender, push the button, and you might get a sense of how I felt.
gettyimages K.Tanier
Pink products and words “Breast Cancer” remind me of this time in my life. This is where my ambivalence comes from; this is when I cringe.

I’m not ungrateful for my life, or breast cancer research, or awareness of breast cancer

because I am and so are my three children, but it’s all that dang PINK everywhere in October, when the autumn colors of golden, bronze, pumpkin, and burgundy naturally abounds.


PINK is in my supermarket, the drug store, magazines, T.V., clothing stores, pet stores, bakery, and on my toilet paper wrap. (Now wasn’t that bolded PINK just a little annoying?) That’s what I see in October, flutters of PINK everywhere. ANNOYING.

Breast cancer sucks. Marketing breast cancer double sucks.


My ambivalence also has to do with the fact that in my small world and community I keep encountering numerous cases of breast cancer in women ranging from 28 to 70 years of age. I’m sure you’ve heard of many people battling the disease within your circle of family/friends/acquaintances. 

How can this be after years of research, millions of dollars, and awareness campaigns? Have we been operating on lies? 


I am not saying that we should stop donating to campaigns of our choice (especially my favorite Dr. Susan Love’s research for the cause of breast cancer, thus the cure). 

Au contraire. I’m still going to do my annual Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. I’m still going to talk with women who are going through BC treatment- if they ask. I’m going to don my khaki hat with the pink ribbon (the one I wore for 6 months on my baldhead) and the black and pink one my sister traded for her own hat on a bus in London.

I will continue to advocate for people to be aware of how to minimize their risk to cancer and find affordable health care. I’m going to do those things and hope you show support by doing these things too. 

I’m just one survivor/thriver trying to communicate my feelings. Maybe a day will come, soon I hope, when Pink no longer stirs up my stuff and becomes just another color, as the lyrics in this video so aptly describes. 

 

                                                    I can hope. 


UPDATE: Jennifer (down there in the comment section) referred me to a site where I met fella sisters who are sick of marketing the “Pink.” Check out Think Before You Pink. They bring up valid points: 

As we head into November’s election, we urge everyone concerned about breast cancer to demand representatives from every state support the 2012 Breast Cancer Action Mandate for Government Action. We need to move beyond “awareness” and pink ribbons to demand candidates and elected officials take real action on breast cancer, by initiating and supporting independent research and strong regulation to turn the tide on this epidemic. 

Thank you for listening. 


Army of Women, Breast Health, Breast Self Exam, Forgiveness, Health, October Breast Cancer Awareness, Pink Ribbons, Self Care, Strong Women

Taking care of ‘The Girls’ and Our self

During October, you will see  television commercials, magazine ads, and food stuffs advertising  Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sometimes I see these and get a little frustrated. I mean it’s a good thing that there is so much awareness being given to Breast Cancer, but as a survivor (6 years) I get overwhelmed by all the hoopla. 

from zazzle.com

No, I don’t want to wear pink ribbons, bracelets, t-shirts, hats, or nail polish. I don’t want pink  kitchen appliances, emery boards and toilet paper wrap.  I see the pink everywhere. It’s hard to explain why this irritates me. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me. Am I the only one feeling the glare of the media attention.


I mean I do want Dr. Susan Love or any other scientist to find the cause and cure for breast cancer, in my lifetime, and I donate and participate in Dr. Susan Love’s Army of Women, so it’s not that I don’t believe in awareness.  I guess it’s the reminders everywhere. The threat of cancer returning, the ominous pink cloud that may descend on one of my sisters or daughter or nieces. Whatever the reason, it’s something I live  with and maybe as more years go by I’ll be okay with the October spotlight. 


A different kind of ‘hoopla’ is this article, written by Dr. Christine Northrup and posted on her current newsletter. It’s not the typical ‘do your monthly self exams,’ but offers a perspective on how we can care for our breasts and body.  It’s the attitude that is important. It goes beyond awareness of breast cancer to a personal attitude about our bodies, it’s about self care, but also self love. 


“Our task as women is to learn, minute by minute, to respect ourselves and our bodies. Whether our breasts are small or large, perky or droopy, whether we have implants or lumps, or have had a mastectomy, all of “the girls” are wonderful. Our breasts are a source of nourishment and pleasure for both ourselves and others, and should be seen as such!
You can improve your breast health almost immediately with these self-care practices:
  • When you touch your breasts, do so with respect and caring. Be grateful they are part of your body. That means if you do a monthly breast self-exam, do NOT do it with a search-and-destroy mentality. This isn’t a military exercise whose purpose is finding and killing an enemy!Instead thank your breasts, chest, and heart area for being a part of your body as you lovingly touch these parts of yourself. Pay special attention to the area up under the armpit where all the lymph nodes are. Massaging this area will assist in ridding your body of toxins, while increasing blood flow and life energy!
  • Open yourself to receiving help, nourishment, and compassion from self and others. When you experience events that cause you sorrow, resentment, or pain, allow yourself to quite literally get these feelings off your chest by experiencing your emotions fully, grieving, and then letting go. “Make a clean breast of it.”
  • Minimize the time you wear your bra every day. Don’t wear a bra to bed. The lymph channels around your breasts and in your armpits need to flow freely. Tight bras shut off this lymph flow, making it much harder for your body to detoxify breast tissue.
  • Sweat it out. Regular exercise is medicine for your breasts. It helps detoxify your body and also helps decrease the amount of estrogen that affects your breasts. Women who exercise regularly have a 30 percent decreased risk for breast cancer.
  • Eat a low-glycemic diet. High blood sugar, which occurs when you eat a high-glycemic diet instead, results in high insulin levels. A high-glycemic diet is a well-documented risk factor for breast disease.
  • Many holistically oriented healthcare practitioners utilize hormone profiles (which can be done by Genova Diagnostics) that measure how well you are metabolizing estrogen—and into what kind of end products. Some metabolites of estrogen are harmful to breast tissue and some aren’t.
  • Supplement! Take a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement that is rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, E, B-complex, D, beta-carotene is a must. (This means at least four pills per day.) Antioxidants help the cells in your breasts fight cellular inflammation, which can be a precursor to breast cancer.Get plenty of vitamin D. Studies show that women with optimal levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of breast cancer. Your vitamin D level should be at least 40 ng/ml. If it’s not, talk with your doctor and come up with the best strategy for raising your levels of this important nutrient. Be prepared to take up to 50,000 IUs per week until your levels are high enough and then 1,000–5,000 IUs per day after that.
Finally, give yourself the gift of forgiveness. Imagine that your Higher Power, or spiritual self, is standing right in front of you. And she is the very embodiment of love and compassion. She reaches out, touches your head, and says, “I now forgive you for all the times you ate too much ice cream, got angry with your children, or didn’t clean up. I forgive you for not keeping a promise to yourself or someone else. I forgive you for being human and for not being able to make everyone happy. I forgive you for ever doubting your worth. I forgive you for having needs and for needing other people to love you. I forgive you for trying to hide your pain behind a brave and stoic face.”

This forgiveness extends to what you have or haven’t done for your health in the past. If you wish you had done things differently, that’s OK! Every day is a new day, and the perfect day to start practicing prevention.”