I love each of the four seasons; each one can be declared a favorite based upon how I feel on a particular day. This past summer was declared the most humid summer on record in New York City, which was not at all pleasant. At the height of the swelter I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Both the weather and my health had become oppressive and unpleasant. Fall was a welcome change with its earthy scents, blue skies, and crisp air.
And then there was October.
Pumpkin pie, jewel-toned leaves, and cool air were drowned out by the color pink. Awareness! Cure! I do not ever recall associating breast cancer with October in the past, but this year it closed around me like a suffocating fog. The anger, frustration, and disgust I felt about my diagnosis was projected onto the month with abandon. It was a time where a diagnosis, a month of celebration (quite literally), and advocacy merged into the perfect storm of anger and exhaustion. The Boob helps me to work through these feelings and I am relieved that the month is nearly at an end; it’s been intense.
My view toward Pinktober has made a 180° turn. I don’t embrace the month, mind you. There is a real part of me that just doesn’t care anymore.
I saw a Twitter conversation the other day between two individuals. One posted a photograph of pink Moët et Chandon. And another person answered by saying that she had given a local liquor store the what for because it was marrying BC awareness with selling liquor and pointed out that alcohol was a risk factor.
I get the conversation and the good intentions and harbor no negative opinions of the individuals, but I think that was my personal watershed moment of “Honestly, who gives a fuck?” Alcohol is a risk factor so you’re going to go in and bitch at the manager? Then I guess every person who drives a car spewing out carcinogens deserves a shout out. How about those microwave towers and cell phone users? The food we eat? The air we breath? The water we drink? The clothes we wear? The technology we use? I had reached my fill. Fuck October. Fuck awareness overload. Let people do whatever the hell they want. The world doesn’t revolve around my breast cancer.
A simple comment–and not a bad one–was the tipping point as a month of pink madness began to wane. Why should I care anymore?
Every single day brings an awareness of breast cancer and the challenge of a new normal. Forget Groundhog Day; every day for thousands of us is October 13. And given what I am facing in my own life, today–at this moment in time–I don’t care if you buy a pink mixer, touch your tits, get a mammogram, or indulge in a memorial tattoo. I can’t afford the luxury of mental detritus.
But as we bid October goodbye, don’t pack away your awareness when you finish that last treatment, enjoy another year free of cancer, or breathe a sigh of relief for yourself or a for friend. Remember the 30% who need your awareness and advocacy for more research dollars. We’re dying for the attention.