It’s girly. It’s feminine. It’s the name of one of my favorite Aerosmith songs, also the name of one of my favorite badass modern-day musical artists and, for better or for worse, it’s the color that is forever associated with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The latter has become a bit of a flashpoint in recent years, especially as more and more corporations, public figures, sports teams, and so on have hitched themselves to the pink bandwagon. As a result, there is greater scrutiny about how proceeds raised in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness Month are actually spent.
So far as I’m concerned, that is a good thing. And although it’s impossible to miss because it’s literally everywhere – to the point of (dare I say it) being excessive – so much the better. If seeing pink all over the place to the point that it irritates someone enough to say, “Fine dammit. I’ll schedule the mammo already,” then yay.
It’s not til October, but Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become such a thing that I’m already thinking about it, especially since the mission behind it is more than a little personal to me now.
Which brings me back to the color itself. The same day I received my diagnosis (worst phone call ever, from the most compassionate and caring people, but still), my husband made arrangements to swing by the Breast Center to retrieve the films from both my (normal) baseline back in 2015, and the abnormal results they’d just discovered. We were going to need these for our breast surgeon consult the following Monday.
When he came home and hoisted a big, pink reusable shopping bag in front of me, brimming with a CD of the films, yes, but also pink everything – buttons, pens, regular notepads, sticky notepads, fridge magnets, chip clips (yes, still pink) and an intimidatingly thick book about all the clinical stuff, I recoiled.
It took me moving beyond active treatment – nearly a year out – before I could look at the color the way I used to.
Now I love it even more than Shelby from Steel Magnolias.
While pink may not exactly be “my signature color”, it’s cheerful and vibrant and compliments my complexion, so there’s a healthy amount of it in my closet during any given season.
Whenever you see pink, however it makes you feel (maybe you notice it never because there’s no reason for it be on your radar), I would ask that you let it remind you to take good care of you (men and women) – and the loved ones in your life too.
It’s highly uncommon for men to face breast cancer, but it happens.
For the moms, sisters, and daughters in your lives, please let this color become a conversation starter about mammograms and the importance of self-exams. There is an entire social media movement on the latter that makes it easy for everyone to remember – #feelitonthefirst.
Bottom line, there is no reason for this to be an awkward or uncomfortable topic. I am living proof that mammograms save lives. Isn’t your loved one’s life worth a few minutes of discussion on a topic you might not normally think is “your place”, whatever that even means?
And not just in October! Year-round, please, let’s all be intentional and thoughtful, and talk about the important meaning of what is behind all the pink.