Travelling through the Underground on Friday morning on my way up North, I came across these bright young things collecting for Breast Cancer, and whilst I believe whole-heartedly that they need to be out there, constantly reminding people of the need for more research into cancer – not just breast cancer – so that we can finally lick this horrifying disease as we once eradicated smallpox, I felt perturbed as I continued down the Tube passageway.
All that pink.
Pink is such a girly, soppy colour – the colour of bows and baubles and all things Polly pretty.
Breast cancer is not pretty.
It is not the colour of an embarrassed blush, or mild surprise, or something that should be mentioned behind hands with a shy downward gaze. It isn’t jokey and has nothing to do with the colour of your bra or where you’ve left your handbag, or any of those other ‘ha-ha how amusing’ Facebook awareness campaigns.
Breast cancer is a fight not to the death, but to the life.
And as such surely its promotional colour should be blood red? The red of a vivacious life lived in full colour, of the passion that pumps through the veins of those who are living out loud and those who are stirred for the fight.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and all around the world campaigns have been orchestrated to ‘raise the awareness of breast cancer and breast cancer research’, but I don’t think breast cancer suffers from a low profile. With 1 in 3 families touched by the devastating effects of breast cancer, I suspect profile isn’t the issue. What is?
The shame. The pity. The helplessness of the breast cancer sufferers and their families.
I’ve felt that embarrassment, and reluctance to get help, albeit in a very small way.
Six months after the birth of my oldest daughter – when I was all of 28 years old – I felt a large solid lump in my breast. I must have checked that breast twenty times that day, willing that this time it wouldn’t be there. That it didn’t exist. But it did, and so I did what many women do every single day, when faced with the fear of a lump in their breast.
I ignored it.
For three months!
I thought it was unlikely to be breast cancer, after all I was only 28, a non-smoker and we had no incidence of breast cancer in our family. If I went to the doctor they would surely think that i was an utter Drama Queen. And what’s more I had a toddler, and a baby …I didn’t have time…
It took a routine check-up and a rebuke from my doctor for my stupidity that finally saw me sitting in a hospital gown waiting for a mammogram one cool Brisbane winter morning.
For two hours, surrounded by other women in all the stages of fear, shock, resignation, I was myself touched by the fear that accompanies a breast cancer diagnosis. I was lucky. It wasn’t breast cancer but the lesser known but more common ‘lumpy boob’.
But I’ve never forgotten sitting there, wondering about what would happen next to me, to my two little kids…I’ve never forgotten my fury for all those women sitting there. For the woman crying quietly as the counsellor placed a comforting arm on her shoulder. For the older woman, wearing the most beautiful elegant earrings and her shroud-like hospital gown, and the young woman with the young family she might never see grow up.
I didn’t see pink that day. I saw red.
I think that’s a genius slogan and it’s brillliant that we’re all now rallying the troops for the fight. Fighting like a girl is not a derogative description, it’s a strong recognition of women’s strength that ensures that they will fight as hard as they can to protect themselves and their families from aggressors, like cancer.
In the UK the Stand Up to Cancer campaign has just aired (click the link to donate) and again the promotional theme is to fight and not let Cancer win.
And the best colour for the Warrior Princesses, Boudiceas, and Amazons who fight breast cancer is the colour of life that courses through our veins – blood red.
Will you stand with me and fight against breast cancer like a girl?