Well my friends, it's here once again. That beautiful time of year when the leaves burst into radiant hues of red, yellow, and gold. The time when the air gets a chill and the delicious aroma of spiced apples and pumpkins emanate from our homes. The sight of sweaters makes you give a little squeal of joy (until you remember that you can't wear sweaters anymore because your hot flashes would kill you.) Then, just when you think, "Oh glorious October, how I love thee!", the wave slams you in the face.
What is this wave I am referring to?
The tidal wave of pink ribbons, bracelets, shirts, hats, cups, food, socks, hair ties, (Really? Hair ties? Thank you for reminding all of the bald breast cancer patients that they can't wear hair ties) the list could literally go on for days. So much pink and so many places saying, "Buy this and we will donate 10% of the net proceeds to breast cancer research!" "Buy this and feel good because you are helping a breast cancer patient!"
Now before you think that I hate pink (and I don't), I just want to quickly recap what pink has meant to me on my own personal breast cancer journey. In the beginning, pink was everything. I encouraged my family and friends to wear pink on my surgery days or chemo days because it gave me strength. I was overwhelmed with their response and felt that it was the only thing that carried me through some of those days. The color pink united us and helped us all to be strong. To this day I know that the color pink serves as a reminder to many of my family and friends of the journey that we went through together and that, my friends, is awesome.
As my journey has progressed and I no longer have cancer roaming around in my body, I have talked with other breast cancer patients who are living with the disease day in and day out, and my view of pink has evolved.
For these survivor sisters, the color pink often means that they feel forgotten; that all of the pink ribbons, clothes, you name it, are for those who, for the moment, do not know with absolute certainty that this disease will take their lives. This sea of pink can be a blaring foghorn in their face, reminding them (although they need no reminders) that breast cancer is everywhere.
So what do I do? How can I help?
The pink is not going away, nor should it. I wish that it wasn't some gimmick that companies use just to sell more items, but there is nothing that this breast cancer survivor can do about that, so what can I do? Well, I can make sure that the money that I donate goes to organizations who are making an actual difference in the lives of women living with breast cancer. I can offer assistance and love to my friends who live with this disease. I can encourage women to know and listen to their bodies, to see their doctors for regular check-ups, and to get yearly mammograms. But most importantly for me, is that I am there for people who need a friend, someone who has "been there, done that." In my life as a survivor, that is a responsibility that I don't take lightly. I appreciate the wonderful women who took time out of their busy lives to share tips, tricks, and tears with me and now I strive to do the same.
Whether or not you have had breast cancer, you can still be there for people. You can still hold their hand and say, "I'm sorry. What can I do to help you?" If you choose to donate money, you can donate it to organizations who are really striving to eradicate this disease and who are researching how to help women who are living with the disease. My plan for this month is to highlight a different organization every week. These organizations that I have chosen are ones that I feel are truly using the money they are raising where it counts the most.
Combining volleyball and research for Stage IV patients? Genius! I love this foundation and have added it to my list of places that use the money that they earn where it counts.
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Copyright Desirae Ogden, www.desiraeogden.com, 2015.
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