Fight- Like A Girl
This is the first breast cancer awareness month that I feel “in the club.” In the past I took note and supported individual local fundraisers, up this year I’m the fundraiser and I’m taking this campaign personal. What I think and/or feel is my truth, my experience. It may shift and change over time— or not. This is from/for me.
I hate that the symbol of breast cancer is a pink ribbon. To me the pink ribbon campaign feels dainty, small. It’s like some antiquated image of femininity and this disease came to challenge my sense of being feminine. That pink image— such bullshit! There is nothing dainty about facing this disease. I was constantly adjusting to the stress, the pain, the bodily surprises of cancer and cancer treatment. I want the symbol to be puke-green ribbon, one that reminds me of how stealthily this disease seeped into my life and how cunning clever and creative I have/had/must be to face it.
So often I felt that those who love me and support me want to see some “perfect” version of me. Always happy and always positive. I think there’s something about facing a life-threatening illness that just scares people in a way that they don’t even want the thought of it in their presence. I happen to think sometimes the best version of me is the version of me making it through some really awful stuff! Even if I come through a bit ragged and worn.
I noticed how even the word “cancer” makes some people feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s being so present with a life threatening illness that makes people uncomfortable. I remind myself— facing this type of threat makes me the warrior I am. A very special breed of warrior fighting and surviving individually. I have family and caregivers supporting me, but when the shadows loom large at 3:00 am I alone am in this fight. Before my diagnosis I would say I hated war. I thought it was the purview of narcissists and ego maniacs. Now I can say there is a time to wage war and I am a warrior.
What I knew about breast cancer was so limited, it was a drop in the bucket. The types, and stages. The treatment regimens, intensity, variety and duration. The experience is singular and unique, terrifying and daunting, overwhelming and conquerable. I knew so little going in, and I am learning and growing through it all.
I never understood why I never wore the pink ribbon or pink clothes until your comments! I had, if this is a possible statement, an easy case of breast cancer: a lumpectomy and radiation which went very simply for me. However, the beast is always there and along with gratitude, I maintain a heightened sense of awareness. Thank you for your story.