Make the Pink Mean Something – by Nicki Kenyon
It’s that time of year again. Secret messages permeate Facebook as women mysteriously make their male friends guess the color of their underwear. The endless sea of pink… pink ribbons, pink towels to wipe the sweat from football players’ faces, pink sneakers, limited edition pink mugs, “Save the Ta-Tas,” go bra-less… it just goes on and on.
At the same time, a slew of enraged cancer survivors will use blogs, articles in women’s magazines, and social media to angrily call on women to stop their lurid worship of the pink and do something truly worthy to help combat breast cancer!
I admit I was one of those angry women a couple of years ago. (http://thelibertyzone.com/2013/10/27/breast-cancer-awareness/) I impugned women for falling for the garish, pink gimmicks. I scolded them for reducing women to nothing but a pair of “ta-tas” instead of focusing on all forms of cancer and doing something substantive to eradicate this plague from existence.
When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago, I was terrified. I did not know how to deal with the news. I always thought of cancer as a death sentence. I never thought this could happen to me and my family. I refused to acknowledge the illness, because cancer was something that happened to other people – to other people’s parents – not to my 60-year-old mom.
I refused to believe it even when I held her hand as she was being wheeled into surgery.
I refused to believe it even when I watched her sleep, all bandaged up after the doctors took her breast and her lymph nodes.
I even refused to believe it even when she underwent chemo and lost all her hair.
I couldn’t look at her like that – all frail, small, pale, and nauseous. I was scared to be in the same room with her. For the longest time, I refused to visit my parents at their home, because I could not look at her.
And so when I saw the tacky games, the bright pink accents at football games, and the merchandise, I was angry, because I thought they lacked the gravitas that beating cancer required. I didn’t think they understood the tragedy, the importance, the horror of cancer. They, with their stupid, perky breasts – breasts that were carved out of my mother – prancing around as if there was no suffering human being behind those “ta-tas,” and making a mockery out of what is so tragic for so many!
And I hated them.
There’s a part of me that still resents them, but now – two years later – I am trying to understand them a little more.
It’s got to be tough to watch friends, loved ones, and complete strangers get carved up like Thanksgiving turkeys, leaving both physical and emotional scars. It’s got to be agonizing to look at oneself in the mirror and see a whole, healthy body, while your mom/sister/aunt/best friend struggles to hold down food, hides under a wig, and isolates herself in her house in fear of contracting an infection.
So you wear pink, and you run around without a bra, and you buy the special edition merchandise, hoping that despite the fact that only a tiny percentage of that special edition pink junk will actually go toward research to fight cancer, maybe that one penny from their one pink mug will be the one that will make the difference in finding a cure.
I do understand the desire to do something. Anytime tragedy strikes, decent human beings give in to the urge to do something – anything. I suppose it’s selfish in a way – because it’s really about making ourselves feel better, about assuaging our own feelings of guilt for being healthy, while our loved ones suffer. But it’s in our nature to want to fix, to help, and to care.
And sometimes, we forget those for whom we do it.
And sometimes we neglect to acknowledge that other forms of cancer kill as well. Yes, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but there’s also prostate cancer, pancreatic and lung cancers, leukemia, malignant brain tumors, adrenal, esophageal… so much evil! So much to fight!
So go ahead and wear that pink, but don’t let that be the only thing you do.
Get vaccinated. There are vaccines out there that are very effective in preventing infections with HPV types 16 and 18, two high-risk HPVs that cause about 70 percent of cervical and anal cancers. Don’t listen to the conspiritards who squeal that it’s a Big Pharma plot to make money off you. Protect yourselves. Protect your kids.
Get tested to be a bone marrow donor. When I was in college, I volunteered to be tested, because a young man needed a donor, and a likely match would be an Eastern European Jew. I did not turn out to be a match, but I still did it. It would have made a huge difference in his life had I been a match for him!
Volunteer at a hospital. Play with the little kids, who have spent their young lives fighting this horror. Bring some joy into their lives. Sing to them. Read to them. Or visit with an older cancer patient. Make them feel wanted, human, loved, and appreciated. Show them their lives do matter, and motivate them to fight like hell against this malevolence.
Make that pink mean something more than just a cheap trinket, and I will try not to get angry when I see silly underwear games on Facebook.