03 October 2010


We are now in the third day of October, which is one of my very favorite months for several reasons:  it is a month that makes me feel that fall has really arrived;  it is the start of the so-called Birthday Marathon in my family (22 birthdays between October 1 and December 20!); for the past few years - and this one as well - the Phillies have been in the playoffs and/or the World Series (!!!!); it is the month of my anniversary; and of course, October ends with Halloween, which means that the fall/winter season of holidays has begun, and I can put out my various [cheesy] decorations pretty much non-stop through the end of the year.

This year in particular, I am happy to see October, because it places me that much further from the Summer of 2010, or as it is known to me, The Summer of  Enormous Sucktitude That I Hope Will Never Be Repeated

Of course, October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which means that PINK is everywhere!  The color pink and I have always had a rather difficult relationship.  I do love certain shades of pink, but during this month, the pink that is generally used is the Pepto-Bismol shade of pink which makes me nauseous (ironic, no?).  Also, pink makes me a little bit uneasy, since when I was growing up, pink always meant girls and blue always meant boys.  This made me want to scream even as a child, since I was apparently a feminist from the get-go, and the whole gender-color thing was more than just annoying.  There are also not many shades of pink that I can wear on my person, since it tends to make me look like a big pink blob o' flesh, as there is a lot of pink in my complexion (oh who am I kidding, I have rosacea, so it's really more red.  But you get my point).   During October, though, pink is also used for marketing purposes on nearly every type of product you can imagine.  (Seriously.  Purina Cat Chow.  Really?)

I have a very close friend whose birthday is in October, and she rails against Breast Cancer Awareness Month ruining her birthday and Halloween.  I have tried to tell her to just ignore it and move on the way she usually does, but I know that something that you really can't stand can often be hard to ignore no matter how hard you try.  (I'm looking at you, Michael Vick.)

So yeah.  Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Pink is everywhere.  Get a mammogram.  Join the sisterhood of survivors and women (and men) who care and want to stamp out this terrible disease.  Wear pink, buy pink, empower yourself with pink.  I have to admit, it kinda makes me want to throw up.

Except that I really can't be against all of the things in the above paragraph.  As you may or may not know, all of the pink-ness of October and the surrounding clamor about curing breast cancer has only been beneficial to me personally.  Many years ago, before anyone would even mention cancer out loud - particularly breast cancer - my mother was diagnosed, and eventually ended up dying from bone cancer after her initial cancer metastized there.  She was part of a clinical trial for a new drug called Nolvadex, which was hopefully going to revolutionize the treatment of breast cancer.  It didn't help her, as her cancer was too advanced by the time she entered the trial, but that drug eventually became Tamoxifen, which is one of the regular tools these days in the treatment of breast cancer. 

This past August, I officially ended my five-year relationship with tamoxifen.  To the world, I am one of the thousands of lucky ones, a breast cancer survivor.  And I do consider myself to be done with breast cancer, though I hesitate to call myself a survivor out loud, since that just seems like tempting fate to me.  Cancer of any type is insidious, and often just when you have started to feel comfortable that you will never make its acquaintance again, it returns with a vengeance.  And, as many of my friends and relatives know, I have a personal theory that there are certain things you just don't say out loud, or they will get out into the universe and get you.  (Work with me here, it's just one of my own weird beliefs, based on enough personal experience to make it true a lot of the time ...)

So, here we are again, ready to enjoy October, and all of the good things about it, while also being bombarded with PINK and Breast Cancer Awareness.  Yeah, it kinda bugs me, as I do not identify myself solely based on any diseases I may have or may have had; and I'm not much for "sisterhood" stuff in any aspect of my life.  (It makes me feel like bugs are crawling on me to be honest.)

But that is just too damn bad.  Because I am grateful for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I am grateful for Pink, and the symbolism that reminds people that all is not well in our universe, be it because breast cancer is still around, or because any disease or situation still exists that takes people away from their families and friends.  I am a direct recipient of the power of Pink, and what incredible progress has been made since my mother was a breast cancer patient.  I am grateful in ways that words cannot express, even if I'm also cynical about it all.  (This is consistent behavior as I am cynical about everything else as well.) 

And as a result, I am still here to tell you why October is a good month.  So to anyone reading this who has ever. done. anything. to contribute to the study of how best to treat breast cancer, I would like to say a huge and heartfelt Thank You!  I am more than aware that I am here both as a result of the grace of God and the generosity of strangers. 

I am lucky and I know it.  Now you do too.


sprite said...

Which makes us lucky, too.

I have a dear friend whose 2009 was the Year of the Breasts and I, too, am grateful to those whose pain and fortitude contributed to the collection of knowledge that saved her life.

SissySees said...

Thank you SO much for sharing your PINK story. I too believe you just don't speak certain things aloud - Scot-Irish, are you too? - so I thank you even more. I'm sure all the good karma that thinking PINK has will ward off the tempting of fate by speaking it aloud.

And I'm so glad you're a survivor, because reading your blog and exchanging a few emails now and then does make my world a better place.

Lynn said...

What a great post. My mom died of cancer too, though it wasn't breast, it was colon. I've had melanoma so I can mean it when I say Cancer sucks and anybody who has survived it is very lucky indeed. Glad you are one of the lucky ones.

mary said...

Pink is my absolute favorite color, I wear it a lot, I even have pink tennis shoes which everyone ribs me about but I wear them anyway.

So glad Pink has helped you - and so glad you're here!!! Happy October.

Really? 22 birthdays from now until December? That is a marathon!

andrea said...

Happy October Bridget!

Congrats on all the good things. And pppffffttttt to all the bad.

Lisa said...

They now have Swiffers and Cascade gel packs in pink. I wonder if this makes Mary Kay and her ladies peevish. I hope so. :)

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Thank you for sharing your story and for reminding me that I am very overdue for my "annual" check up.

Break out the cheesy decorations ~ it's time to end this Summer of suckitude - whoo hoo!!!!

Carrie#K said...

That was an excellent ode to your coming to terms with both pink and surviving. Happy October!

Quilting Mama said...

Why pink to begin with? I think going Orange would be much more fun!

Congrats on today's successes and best wishes for tomorrow.

Lorraine said...

Bridget- There is not one person among us who hasn't been touched by cancer, and I agree- why not stack the odds in our favour any way we can.

Knowledge is power.

Marie said...

Happiest of Octobers to you!! Glad your sucky summer is over and I'm especially glad you are a survivor.

joanchicago said...

Thanks for the great post! Seems to me that way too many women in this bleepin' sorority are quick to call themselves survivors and to look down on those of us who hesitate. If I hear "Ya gotta stay positive" one more time, I'm going to barf. That's what I love about you, Bridget: You're not afraid to tell it like it is. Congrats on putting tamoxifen behind you! May the summer of 2010 pass into the oblivion it so richly deserves. And may you enjoy many more years of cancer-free living.

Anonymous said...

My mother died of breast cancer when I was 21 and when I got it at 47, I assumed it was a death sentence. Thanks to women like your mother, however, great advances have been made and ten and a half years after diagnosis, mastectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy I am still here to tell the tale. However, I STILL take tamoxifen because my oncologist believes that what happens in one breast can happen in the other, so I guess I'm a lifer. Since my uterus was removed in 1991, I am not at risk for uterine cancer, the most common side effect of the drug. Like you, I am glad to be here.