By Pat Trotta
This is one woman’s story about the “Pinking of America.”
I spent the summer of 2012 having various tests done because an abnormality was found on a routine mammogram. I was a beneficiary of all the cancer research being made possible by the war on breast cancer. I actually had three lesions, one so small it would have not been detected in earlier years before the sensitive tests available today. My mastectomy was scheduled for Oct. 1.
Recovery was swift and painless, with my biggest problem being cabin fever. As soon as my surgeon gave me the OK to get out of the house, I just put the bulb of my drain tube in the pocket of my jeans and did what most women would do: I went shopping. I was thrilled at the prospect of a little retail therapy so I could quit thinking about the darn cancer.
My first stop was my favorite home improvement store, where the first thing I saw was a display of Pink Ribbon door knobs. My second stop was my favorite office supply store, where I was bowled over by a huge display that ranged from “Pink Ribbon Uni-Ball Gel Pens” to a pink-handled No. 8 scissors that claimed to “raise awareness about breast cancer.”
I was shopping to forget my breast cancer, but instead there were reminders everywhere I looked. I felt like I was in a frantic recurring nightmare, running from store to store, with more pink items ready to attack me behind the door of every retail establishment.
I had to get away from all this pink! I decided to watch a football game, surely a no-pink haven. Wrong! I thought I was having hallucinations when I saw NFL cheerleaders with pink pom-poms and football players with pink cleats. Apparently it has become politically incorrect to ignore pink in October. Employers are forcing their employees to wear pink shirts for a month.
This has gone too far.
Yes, I am grateful for all of the progress that has been made on “my cancer,” which allowed me to have such good treatment. But how do lung cancer patients feel when they see all of this hoopla? What about prostate cancer patients?
Shouldn’t the NFL give equal time to them? I did some research and found that there are
48 colors and color combinations of “awareness ribbons” representing 221 types of cancer. So what about the other 220 diseases? What do their ribbons look like?
My solution is to start referring to October as “Cancer Awareness Month” and include all types of cancers. I actually feel selfish that all the focus and attention is on my type of cancer.
As retailers consider Pinktober for next year, my wish is that these displays would include products in all colors, reflecting all types of cancer.
Instead of the mandatory pink, why can’t employers let their employees choose a ribbon or color reflecting a form of cancer that has affected a friend or loved one? That would certainly be more meaningful.
If we could turn the tide on this, what color ribbon would you choose to wear during the month of October? What is your color of hope?
I’ll be wearing a green ribbon for my sister’s kidney cancer; a gold ribbon for all childhood cancers; and a white ribbon in memory of my brother, who died at age 4 from retinoblastoma.
Let’s give all cancers equal attention.
Pat Trotta (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a retired oncology transcriptionist who lives in Jamestown.