Last night, I watched the Cleveland/Buffalo game with my husband. The first thing John noticed was not the score, which surprised me since the Browns were losing at the time. The first thing he noticed was the pink. Pink was everywhere. Pink ref towels, pink socks, pink mouth guards, pink goal posts, pink yard markers, pink ribbons on the field. It was a pink lovers paradise. John said, “Boy they’ve got a great lobby.” Yes, they do, and they’re not afraid to use it.
Let me say upfront that I am NOT anti-pink. I know several people who have had to fight the Beast called breast cancer. Some of these women were the ones who prayed most fervently for me. One in particular continues to walk along side of me as I struggle with this season called remission. I lost a friend to breast cancer. It’s an ugly, disfiguring, vile and evil disease that must be eradicated from the Earth. That being said, so do all the rest of the cancers. What I am is anti “my cancer is worse than your cancer.”
In the past, I’ve always thought it was cool that the NFL and MLB would sport pink. These traditionally male sports were honoring wives, sisters, aunts, lovers and friends by wearing pink during Breast Cancer Awareness month. Last year, I looked at it a bit different. After I came home from my hysterectomy and was waiting to have my port inserted, I watched a game and thought, “Seriously?” Later that week my friend Cathy made her first visit to me as my unofficial Chemo Coach and I asked her what she thought about all the pink. After reflecting, she said that initially it made her feel good, but as time wore on she started to feel like a commodity.
Watching the game last night, a couple of things popped into my head. First was “Why pink?” Granted men DO get breast cancer, albeit a relatively low percentage. So if the “wearing o’ the pink” brings awareness to male breast cancer, it’s a great thing. I’ve been prayed over on Facebook by a woman who lost her husband/soul mate to breast cancer. If the NFL would use the platform to raise awareness for that, I’d say paint the stadium pink. But, sadly, that’s not the point. The point is to support women with breast cancer.
My second thought was “Why not blue?” Blue represents prostate and testicular cancer and while prostate tends to be a slow growing cancer, testicular cancer is not. These big burly men could all develop prostate or testicular cancer. Shouldn’t they go blue to get their fans to get checked? Maybe no one has brought this up to the NFL. Or maybe big, burly men don’t want to deal with what might happen to them. Who knows? I may have to Google or Bing that.
My third thought had to do with John’s observation about having a great lobby. Breast cancer has an awesome lobby. Two of my hometown’s big corporations, P&G and Kroger, scream pink. P&G makes donations based on coupons redeemed and Kroger spotlights employees who have fought the beast and won (female employees only, I’ve noted). Campbell’s has pink cans. Yoplait has their pink lids. The other night my son was eating Yoplait and asked, “Where are the teal lids?” I had to suppress a laugh. I explained that there were no teal lids and I didn’t anticipate there ever being teal lids. “Why?” he asked. I simply told him, “Not enough women get my kind of cancer.” His reply, “That’s stupid. Cancer is cancer and it all kills people.” Ah, the wisdom of a 10 year old who fears the Beast will take his Momma. But I recognize that it took Susan Komen’s sister and Dr. Love going to Avon to get the ball rolling. Prior to that, you pretty much had a “Save the Ta-ta’s” sticker and that was about it.
John’s uncle has been battling muscle and lung cancer for a few years. He is one of the most humble and Godly men I know. If anyone should have a ribbon day, he should. John’s dad died from lung cancer. No ribbon for that. My grandma died of colon cancer. Where’s her ribbon month? Thank goodness for Katie Couric or that cancer would still be in the dark. My niece battled thyroid cancer last year. No ribbon there either. While I am thrilled that teal is getting recognized, I realize there are some cancers that are still avoided completely like pancreatic and liver cancer. Talk about needing a lobby!
I do plan on wearing my pink T-shirt this month for Cathy, Joules, Ronnie, Paula, Lori, Charlene and all the other women I know who’ve battled breast cancer. The back of my shirt says “It’s not a color, it’s an attitude.” Now that’s something I can get behind. Rather than painting America pink, maybe we need to get into the mindset that all cancer is bad and we need to find a way to cure them all, not just the one with the who has the best PR machine.
Actually, I’ve packed away most of my teal stuff from last month. I am wearing my “Power is Teal” T-shirt today, but not to make a statement. It’s actually very comfy and it was on the top of my stack in the drawer. I could have just as easily pulled my “All-American Mom” which is my shirt to promote International Adoption or my “Homeschool Mom, Just Add Coffee” shirt. Tomorrow I will wear my “Flight Crew” shirt from VBS last summer. Not because I am trying to make a statement, but because both my boys have games tomorrow and both have blue and white uniforms. My T is blue and white so I am supporting my kids. Granted the message is a bonus, but it’s not the reason why I’m choosing that shirt. Not every color has to stand for something.
Pink, like teal, blue, yellow, purple, red and green, is just a color. I realize when they take the shape of a ribbon, they represent something visceral. Colors are a great way to grab attention and bring awareness. God put seven distinct colors in the rainbow, not two or three. All the colors are necessary to make the rainbow complete. It will take all the ribbons coming together to beat the Beast. Who’s with me?