If you ask the retired man I live with how I am, he’s likely to answer, “Mean as a snake.” And you, most likely, will laugh, thinking he’s just being cute.  But he tells the truth, at least a partial truth.

I have a wicked streak in my personality that not everyone gets to see or hear.  Sometimes it comes out as sarcastic comments under my breath during a meeting or workshop.  Sometimes it’s a look exchanged with a friend who knows which person gets under my skin anytime she or he speaks.  Sometimes I just sigh.  I sigh a lot in October.

A week or so ago, my WHOLE daily newspaper was pink. Even the comics and the horoscopes.  I sighed, several times.

A few days later, I walked through the den while the retired man I live with was watching a pro football game.  Pink tights and pink Nike cleats with tight white football pants is not a good look for a beefy offensive lineman.  Or anyone else, probably.  I sighed.

My mother-in-law died of breast cancer, as did 2 of her sisters.  My sister-in-law lives with that genetic legacy.  So do my 2 daughters.  One of their friends had a preventative double mastectomy in her 30’s because of her family history.  I have friends who are breast cancer survivors.

I’m jealous of the Pink for Breast Cancer marketing juggernaut.  Who turned my newspaper pink?  And who talked football players into wearing hot pink tights?

Most families have faced some kind of cancer.

My brother had melanoma twice and died of metastatic cancer of unknown origin.  He had it everywhere and chose not to have treatment and go ahead and die swiftly a year ago.

My mother had throat cancer.  After radiation that killed her salivary glands, she ended up with no ability to taste food and lost all her teeth.

I am a cancer survivor.  I know what that means and how it feels. Nine years ago I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Surgery removed one malignant lymph node and another disappeared (??).  My cancer has been in remission since.  I try to forget that it could come back.

My newspaper printed an article recently by Pat Trotta, a local breast cancer survivor.  Here is an excerpt:

Recovery [after her mastectomy on October 1, 2012] was swift and painless, with my biggest problem being cabin fever. As soon as my surgeon gave me the OK to get out of the house, I just put the bulb of my drain tube in the pocket of my jeans and did what most women would do: I went shopping. I was thrilled at the prospect of a little retail therapy so I could quit thinking about the darn cancer.

My first stop was my favorite home improvement store, where the first thing I saw was a display of Pink Ribbon door knobs. My second stop was my favorite office supply store, where I was bowled over by a huge display that ranged from “Pink Ribbon Uni-Ball Gel Pens” to a pink-handled No. 8 scissors that claimed to “raise awareness about breast cancer.”

I was shopping to forget my breast cancer, but instead there were reminders everywhere I looked. I felt like I was in a frantic recurring nightmare, running from store to store, with more pink items ready to attack me behind the door of every retail establishment.

I had to get away from all this pink! I decided to watch a football game, surely a no-pink haven. Wrong! I thought I was having hallucinations when I saw NFL cheerleaders with pink pom-poms and football players with pink cleats. Apparently it has become politically incorrect to ignore pink in October. Employers are forcing their employees to wear pink shirts for a month.

This has gone too far…

I did some research and found that there are 48 colors and color combinations of “awareness ribbons” representing 221 types of cancer. So what about the other 220 diseases? What do their ribbons look like?

My solution is to start referring to October as “Cancer Awareness Month” and include all types of cancers. I actually feel selfish that all the focus and attention is on my type of cancer.

As retailers consider Pinktober for next year, my wish is that these displays would include products in all colors, reflecting all types of cancer.

One of my daughters started making tie-dye shirts last week.  I’m going to ask her to make all of us October shirts using these cancer awareness colors (the ones that have affected our family): Pink (breast), Dark blue (colon), White (lung), Lime (lymphoma), Black (melanoma), Burgundy (head/neck), and Plum (for caregivers).

What colors will you use?





Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 3:52 pm  Comments (4)  
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Rhinestones on Rubber

Adaline’s mother asked us to shoe-shop while we babysat on Friday.  I think shoes hinder walking for beginners.  Grandpa was excited. Grandpa likes to shop.

Before shopping, Adaline (and Grandpa) napped, she devoured a carton of peach/squash YoBaby yogurt (Grandpa had coffee), and we changed her diaper. We remembered the diaper bag and brought the pink and white cart cover (see what that is here). We headed off to WendoverWorld, the area with every chain store imaginable.

Old Navy, Target, Kohl’s or Babies-R-Us?

We picked Kohl’s.  I pushed the stroller up and down the aisles while Grandpa wandered. We found him in the cramped shoe department in the back corner.  One pair in her size were not pink. They were clunky, purple-flowered, non-prissy sandals perfect for hiking mountains and fording streams (think Teva or Keen).  We saw dark pink maryjanes with a white flower on the toe and white sneakers with a big pink Nike swoosh on the side (Just Do It?).  Where were the little red Keds?  Grandpa wanted to buy black and white and pink (fake) Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars with rhinestones on the rubber toe-bumper.

Obsession with everything pink and princess is the focus of Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter.  (One of the best book titles ever!).  Halfway through the book, I decided to boycott pink.  (Click here for more about why.)

I shop in the boys’ department to find non-pink or non-lavender or non-pastel.  I found a pair of army-green cargo pants made out of sweatshirt material at Walmart.  Not so flattering (short legs and a rather bulky butt), but you know they’re comfortable.

Adaline’s mother loved to dig in the dirt and splash in mud puddles when she was little.  She is a zookeeper and is in many kinds of dirt all day.  She understands the value of exploration and that a bath fixes many a mess.  She was a bit irritated the first time she picked up Adaline with dirt under her fingernails.  We suggested cutting them.

Frilly dresses and rhinestones (won’t she pull them off and eat them?) have a place.  They make for some precious pictures, after all.  Jeans and t-shirts and little red Keds make more sense for exploring Grandpa’s backyard.  (Where can I buy little red Keds?)

We bought the pink maryjanes with a big white flower on the toes and the clunky purple sandals that she’ll probably never be able to walk in.

Those rhinestone-studded Chuck Taylors were really cute…