Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pink, Pink...You Stink.

I have a love/hate relationship with the color pink.  In particular - those wretched little pink ribbons that are plastered to everything from nail polish to football uniforms these days.

Screw can-suh!
Of course, before my diagnosis I didn't think twice.  In fact, I even donned the occasional pink ribbon - participating in and volunteering for various benefit races.  But that was before my name was permanently attached to the diagnosis.  Because as much as I was happy to support others - I never saw it for myself.  I didn't want to identify with the smiling bald women wearing pink hats, I just wanted to be part of their cheering squad.  But of course I didn't have a choice in the matter - nobody does.

Now every time I see a pink ribbon it's a reminder that my life has changed forever.  And if I'm honest, sometimes that really pisses me off.

Blissfully unaware of what I was getting into...
Cancer is such a powerful disease.  There are many, many potentially fatal ailments - diabetes, cardiac disease, COPD - but in my experience none brings about the same reflection, internal drive and determination of its victims.  Cancer is also a great equalizer - striking both rich and poor, young and old.  And those who are touched by it are often in for the fight of their lives.

Somewhat ironically, I began my career as an oncology nurse back when we lived in Bend and it's always been an area of nursing that I've found particularly intriguing.  The everyday battles faced by so many on that oncology floor were inspiring to witness. And though often stories did not have happy endings, I felt I made a difference in many lives - which is ultimately why I am a nurse. There is no greater privilege than to be allowed to care for someone when they are most vulnerable, and being that close to humanity can be a humbling experience.

Which brings me to another reason why I sometimes resent those ribbons: Cancer is not cute. It's a hideous disease.  It can bring terrible suffering, mutilate bodies and take lives.

To symbolize such a thing with a pretty pink ribbon is laughable at best - at worst, grotesque.

But they're also entirely necessary.

As frustrating as it can be to see the symbol of the disease I'm struggling with so neatly commercialized into something fashionable and "bite-sized", it also keeps cancer - and more importantly cancer research - front and center.      

Like 'em or lump 'em - those pretty little pink ribbons and everything they stand for - will eventually save my life.  So I guess as far as bandwagons are concerned, this isn't such a bad one to jump on.