Today is the first day of October. There will be pumpkins and goblins and ghosts and candy everywhere I turn. And there will also be pink. Lots of pink and ribbons and awareness and survival. But in our experience, survival wasn't the end result.
I was watching the Today show this morning, and they were doing a big thing for survivors, and they were all laughing and smiling and sporting the show's hashtag for this month: Pink Power.
Today is only the first day of October, and I will have 30 more days of pink power. I know it's all for good, for awareness, for raising money for research so that hopefully, one day, women won't lose their battle with breast cancer. But it hits me in the chest and makes me a little short of breath that this whole month will be devoted to a war your body didn't win. I wonder how many others feel exactly the way I do this morning, staring blankly at a television and thinking, "But this isn't truly the face of breast cancer..."
America clings to the catchy, to the pretty of all things, and they create phrases and mantras to match. The worst I think is Save the Tatas. Seriously? How about save the Gammies and moms and sisters and wives and friends? How about save us from sickening chemo and painful radiation? How about save us from burying someone we love so dearly far too soon? Oh, I don't know, Mama... maybe I'm just bitter right now. Just plain bitter. Why do some survive while others don't? Why do some bodies react so positively to treatment protocol while others don't? It's hard to swallow, that cold reality of life, that not all will be survivors.
If you were here, you'd tell me that's not the point, that the survivors should celebrate, that we should all keep on fighting. Cause we're all fighting breast cancer in some way, whether in our own bodies or trying to get through a loved one's diagnosis and treatment. Or like me, who is fighting the grief of losing my Mama to the ugly disease of breast cancer. We are all warriors, all of us at war to keep our chins up and stay strong in this world that doesn't make a lot of sense. A world where not everyone survives. A world where mother's die.
You were such a strong woman, Mama. The strongest I've ever know. You endured so much in the last two and half years of your life. Drug studies, brain tumor, pleural effusion, surgeries, and procedures. Oh and let's not forget the completely unrelated broken arm! That one was like salt on the wound! But you took it all in stride. You never complained, never lost faith. Even in your final days, you didn't think you were dying. You fought every step of the way and found a way to make it look graceful and effortless.
There will be no segments on the Today Show about you this month, Mama, because the story didn't end pretty and all wrapped up in a pink ribbon. But you... you went down battling, and for that, you are and always will be my personal hero. And I hope to carry on the legacy of your strength as I live out my life, no matter what lies ahead of me. Even though your physical body is in the grave, you are Pink Power. You may have lost the battle, but the cancer never had power over you.
I long to be with you in a time and place where there is no need for awareness of any kind of cancer.