So, yeah, it’s October

Hello there! Well, it’s been so long since I’ve written that I actually forgot my log-in to the site. No kidding. Totally serious. After going through the 101 different options, I’m happy to say that I’m here and ready to write today!

So, yea, it’s October. 

My entire world (and by “world” I mean my Facebook newsfeed, Twitter, Target store, and grocery) will become awash in Pink. Pepto Bismal has nothin’ on October.

You know, before my family was thrust into the world of cancer, I was actually okay with the whole world turning Pink. I loved the feeling of people getting together to support a cause, to wear pink ribbons and clothing, and to purchase all new Calphalon pots and pans in pink.

Then my sister got cancer.

And, I wanted to burn all of that pink stuff down. I wanted to rip down the ribbons, scream for the football teams to go back to their original colors, and pull out the television plug showing yet another survivor. I was angry. I was angry that she, my big sister, had cancer. My big sister, who slammed my face in her bedroom door when I was a kid during her hormonal-Goth-teenager phase. My sister, the one who shaved one side of her head 10444435_10152565894958594_2104910139041255313_nand left the other side long, spiky, and crusty with Aqua Net spray and who you feared whenever she looked at you. My sister, the one who carried her thick, black leather jacket with metal spikes in one hand and her cello in the other as she made her way to a prestigious symphony rehearsal in Boston. My sister, the one who babysat me and who carried me on her back banging on neighbors doors to help me when I was bitten by a tick. My sister, who looked me in the eyes the night before she left for college and said “Don’t let anyone f*ck with you” as I was just becoming a teenager.

Those pink items didn’t help her. Those pink items didn’t raise the level of awareness of her doctor who had misdiagnosed her for months, telling her she had a clogged milk duct despite her protest and her gut feeling that “something was wrong.” The pink didn’t help her son who spent most of his first years of life watching his mother lay lifeless on a couch. The pink certainly didn’t help when she fainted at his 1st birthday party, her body ravaged by cancer, chemo, and radiation; when the screams of the ambulance replaced the “Happy birthday” song for her son.

So, yeah, it’s October.

It’s October. When we praise women for “fighting like a girl” but forget that men can get breast cancer, too. In fact, I’ve met more and more women whose fathers have had breast cancer (mostly due to the BRCA gene).

So, yeah, it’s October.

It’s the month where I feel especially out of place. As a previvor, I am not a survivor. I am also not un-affected by cancer. I am a healthy woman with fake breasts, mastectomy scars, packages of hormone treatments, and no ovaries. There is no beauty-pageant pink sash for that one. But, each day, I am reminded of the privilege I had to know about my genetics. I had the privilege of not getting cancer; of not letting cancer get me. Cancer didn’t surprise me, I got the jump on cancer. As I guest lectured in a college class today on women’s health issues, I stood up and said, “Boobs and vaginas. Boobs and vaginas. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.” No one flinched. No one giggled. Because of our awareness of breasts and breast cancer, we are no longer afraid to talk about these parts of our lives. There is no shame about breast cancer, about boobs, about mammograms and self-exams.

Though October is also LGBTQ History Month and DisAbilities Awareness Month (and probably many more “months”), when I asked the class what October was, they all said, “It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

So, yeah, it’s October. Thank you, October. 

10153914_10152798019313594_8563307621097374908_nIt’s a month-long celebration of fighters, winners, warriors, and our fallen warriors. October is a reminder for me not to say people “lost their battle with cancer” but rather, they were war heroes. They were killed in battle. They fought until it was no longer their choice.

October reminds me that I am not just lucky but privileged. I had the knowledge to make choices, the financial means to take charge of my health, and the family support to heal. October reminds me to fight for those who don’t have the choice, who don’t have the means, and who do not have the support.

When I choose to donate money or participate in the pink, I do so in honor of those who cannot.

So, yeah, it’s October.

Fight on.

Peace, love, and warrior wishes,

Liza

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3 Responses to So, yeah, it’s October

  1. Right on girl! I too am tired of pink everything and get really agitated when I see something pink in a store to commemorate breast cancer, yet nowhere does it say that the money is being donated to a cause,

  2. Anne Erde says:

    Thank you, once again, Liza, for your ability to touch the heart and stimulate the intellect with the depth of your words, the humanity of your story, and the sense of humor you somehow mangae to bring to everything. Blessings to you, your family, and all who live with big challenges in their lives. Love to you.

  3. Alice Williams says:

    Love you. That is all.

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