Pink season is descending again. Those products and ribbons are appearing everywhere. Why, if you have trouble finding a pink item that supports breast cancer awareness, at say your local Walgreens or Kohls or grocery store, you can always shop online where you can find the ever important pink-endorsed golf cart.
In fall of 2008, I experienced my first October with a very personal, very real awareness of breast cancer. I was quite aware of my scar, of the radiation, of the fatigue. Pink bombarded me everywhere I went – it practically pulsed…. pink-ribboned yogurt, pink socks, pink tee shirts. More than once I wanted to scream, “Aware enough, thank you.”
So what does my aversion to pink have to do with writing, you may fairly ask. As writers – as human beings in the times we live – we often “wear many hats.” In thinking about my many roles in somewhat chronological order, I have been a daughter, a middle child peacemaker, a sister, a friend, a reader, a student, a gymnast, an irresponsible young adult, a lover, a wife, a public relations coordinator, a mother, a teacher, a Cub Scout leader, a soccer mom, a theater mom, a traveler, a deacon, a volunteer, a writer, and….. a cancer survivor.
If you’ve known one cancer survivor, you’ve known one cancer survivor. We are all different. Our stories are all different.
I struggle with my story because I experienced cancer light — thanks to a routine mammogram and an excellent reader of that mammogram, my cancer was discovered very early. It was removed (lumpectomy) and then I began the recommended radiation, followed by five years of tamoxifen (unless/until menopause kicks in and then we’ll switch to something else).
So, as the annual autumn pink onslaught begins, I think of friends I’ve lost to breast cancer. I hurt for their pain and their deaths, but I also experience an internal quiver – will I die like that? Will cancer return, as it had for both of them, over seven years after being “cured”?
I think of friends who are surviving, but who experienced a far rougher road then I did in their battles. And, I always think of the other cancers and their members – how do they feel that breast cancer awareness has become so overwhelming? A friend who is a colon cancer survivor just shrugs when I ask about it and says, it’s really annoying, but what can you do?
Most of the roles I listed above – the hats I have worn – I have embraced. But I never wanted to wear the pink hat. Somehow though, this experience, this role, is being integrated into who I am —- and who I am and what I have done and known, informs my fiction, like it or not.
Whether or not a personal experience with cancer is part of your life experience, there may well be some role you own that you’d rather not…… how does that role affect your writing?
Wishing you happy, or at least, faithful #writing.