October is breast cancer awareness month and I have a confession to make...ever since getting cancer over 10 years ago I've been a little jealous of the pink. Everyone knows and prepares for October; pink is everywhere from the local drugstore to the NFL to national news networks and rightly so, one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. It seems that every type of cancer has a month and a ribbon color but I would venture to say that the general public couldn't name any other month/color except for breast cancer and pink. When I first got cancer, not only did I hear 'oh, you have the easy cancer (thyroid)' but I learned that our month was shared with Childhood cancer, Leukemia Lymphoma Cancer, Ovarian and Prostate Cancer, and our ribbon had multiple colors; purple, teal, and pink. In fact, on my first walk with Relay for Life I could not find anything thyroid cancer (t-shirts, ribbon pins, bracelets) from any vendors. Sigh.
Well here I am 11 years later, it's October and pink is everywhere. I have cancer again for the fourth time, now Stage 4, metastatic. When I tell people I have cancer they assume it's breast cancer because I'm a woman, it's fine. This year, instead of the tinge of jealousy for the pink, I'm thankful. From my perspective the pink campaign has really helped increase awareness of all cancers. Ten years ago I could only find bracelets and pins with pink ribbons, today I've seen blue, purple, yellow, burgundy, and an occasional purple/teal/pink thyroid cancer ribbon. The pink has empowered women, has increased awareness and early detection, and has ultimately increased survival rates. Let's face it, whatever color or month is associated with whatever cancer there is, cancer sucks.
To all my breast cancer sisters, cheers to you, fight on! To all the other cancer warriors out there who aren't represented by pink, I feel you, we got this. Here's to another day!