How much does the Pink Ribbon represent who I am?
Am I a Pink Ribbon?
If you had asked me a few years ago when I was first diagnosed I would have said yes, and I embraced the whole Pinktober thing. And now, I hear you ask. Now I know that I am not a Pink Ribbon, and I say this not only with bitterness but also great regret. I no longer feel that I am a PR because I am not accepted by that world, I am not embraced by that world and I am not supported by that world. I also don’t feel that I am a PR because I fear that the whole thing has become about profit and PR in the public relations meaning of the world. I rather feel as though it has become detacted from reality; after all how often do you see a picture to do with breast cancer which doesn’t feature happy, smiley faces of women dressed in fluffy pink boas, T-shirts … basically pink everything. Is this a true reflection? How does that make those with breast cancer, primary or metastatic, feel when they are having a bad day. You must by Pink, you must smile, you must be positive. Really? What planet are these people on?
Who actually are the most affected by breast cancer? The ‘survivors’ who might spot its shadow every now and then, or those who have been told that it will be our conjoined twin for the rest of our lives? We are breast cancer in the sense that we will never escape its clutches, but it doesn’t have to define who we are. So why is it that we rarely get a mention in all things PR except to encourage donations?
I was at the hospital on Tuesday for a routine oncology appointment. My three monthly MOT test. Before I fell asleep waiting my turn I picked up a leaflet from a new cancer support centre which is only about 12 miles from where I live. Today I have e-mailed them to find out if those with metastatic disease are welcomed because frankly I have never found that cancer support groups are at all welcoming to those with MBC. You can come but you mustn’t mention ‘it’, or that you have ‘it’. Maybe this is a breast cancer thing because it is so attuned to survivorship, life after treatment and so on.
The real shame is that I feel that I have so much to give to others with cancer, especially MBC, because my message would be that it is ok to be depressed, to cry and be angry, to feel ecstatically happy to be alive, to feel that you have found who you should have been all your life; and also that what is right for you is the best way to deal with it. There should be no rules, and although everyone should be aware of phases that they may well go through there is no set order or time frame to them. You may not even experience all of them. My experience is not only one of grief, anger and fear, but of the realisation that I am happier now than I have ever been in my life. I actually feel a connection to my life that I never did before because I have allowed myself to get rid of so much that I should not have carried this far. I am not Polly-Anna everyday, I can be far more Cruella de Vil and certainly have been lately, but inside me is an Anne of Green Gables struggling to see the light of day.
I love the colour pink. It is my favourite colour and my bedroom is pink, my office where I am typing this, is pink. I am drawn to buying things that are pink if there is a choice, but there is one month of the year that I would now avoid the colour and that is during the month when it should mean so much to me, and represent who I am. At heart I still yearn to be a Pink Ribbon but I don’t foresee that I will be one ever again in my lifetime.