It’s that time of year again. The air turns cool, the leaves turn beautiful autumn colors as they drift to the ground, the air is scented with the heady aroma of pumpkin spice, and ghosts and goblins prepare for their night of debauchery. And inexplicably, everything is pink.
Yes, my friends, it is Pinktober.
We hold walks, bake pink cupcakes, and say we are supporting the fighters. For one month out of the year. But for those of us who have battled the disease, the awareness continues for the eleven months between Pinktobers. We need to do more.
Now, I have no complaints about the color pink. It’s actually my second favorite color. I don’t even have a problem with its association with breast cancer awareness. I love all my pink sisters. What I find irksome is that we need a month for awareness. After decades of the pink blitz, most people are aware that breast cancer is a horrible disease. I think we need to focus less on awareness, and more on practical support that reaches out to women directly.
Here is what I suggest if you want to support our fight:
1. Donate to a reputable research organization. Find a group that will make the most use of your dollars. There are wonderful research groups that are trying to make lifesaving discoveries. But please be aware that some organizations use donations in varying ways. Look for one that is funding research, not excessive administrative expenses.
And when it comes to research, we are failing our stage 4 warriors. Stage 4 breast cancer is never cured, it is only treated. But only a fraction of the research is focused on this group. Breast cancer does not kill – we die when it spreads to other parts of our body.
2. Give directly to someone in treatment. Make a care package, offer to drive her to treatments, take the kids for an afternoon, or chat about non-cancer life over a cup of tea. Give gas cards to your local cancer center. Crafty? Make shawls, blankets, and hats to donate. There are ladies in your neighborhood who need help. Contact your local hospital, cancer center, or support groups to find out how to find them.
**Many patients feel like they are abandoned by family, friends, and their local community. The best thing you can do is make them feel loved!
3. Celebrate a survivor in your life. Take them to lunch and a pedicure, send them a card, call them and ask how they are doing. They need TLC long past their treatment.
**Did you know many survivors suffer from anxiety, depression, and fear? Side effects last long past treatment.
4. If you are a survivor, share your stories, both the good and the bad. Let others know what you wish you had understood prior to your diagnosis and treatment. We know more than anyone how paralyzing it is to hear the words, “You have cancer”. Let’s pay it forward, and help the next ladies who come after us.
Let’s re-invent Pinktober!
We need to change the focus of the conversation. Let’s work together to provide support to those in treatment, and to survivors. Let’s fund meaningful research. At this point, we know what we need. Practical support. For all women. Let’s make pink positive again.