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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life in Wonderland: How I learned to love the color pink

As a child I didn't really like pink or any other pastel colors. I was fond of bold, bright colors. It wasn't until after high school that I started liking pink. It's not that my color tastes changed or that I was becoming more feminine. I was always pretty feminine. It's just that I discovered that pink represented more than just femininity.

I remember going to the park with my dad one day, when I was really young. Right next to the park is the Cathedral. My parents are non practicing catholics, but that day my dad decided to stop in at the Cathedral. We lit a couple of candles. He told me that it was for my grandmother. She was fighting breast cancer. She won that battle.

A little after my 19th birthday I found a lump. I remember being so scared when I told my mother. A couple days later I was at my doctor's office and then a week later I was getting an ultra sound. My mom was with me during the ultrasound. The screen wasn't facing me, but I saw the look on her face as she watched the screen. The fear just got worse and worse. My family and friends were very supportive though. I remember coming home from the ultra sound and my brother asking me if I wanted to go get ice cream. It seems silly but it was what I needed and he knew it.

A week later I was at my rushed appointment with a surgeon. It turned out that the one lump was actually three. But the good news was that the lumps were most likely fibroadenomas and not cancerous. So I had a decision to make. Should I have them biopsied or completely excised? Both scared the hell out of me. I decided to go with a complete excision just to be safe. We scheduled an appointment for another consultation just to be sure though. So I went home and did tons of research online. I had a huge list of questions. The surgeon had told me that the chances of them coming back after the excision were slim, he hadn't had any cases where it happened. But a quick search found that some women have had multiple excisions because they came back again and again. One woman, after 5 excision surgeries, had a mastectomy. I also discovered that the scar tissue left from the excision could make it difficult to find lumps later in life, even in a mammogram. So off I went to my appointment. My friend, Nella, went with me that day. My mom was at the hospital with my family, sitting with my grandfather in the ICU. So there Nella and I were an hour after I was supposed to be seen. We were sitting on the floor in the hall way outside of the clinic because the waiting room was full. The surgeon was busy and so we waited, until finally I just gave up. I told the woman at the desk that I was going. They're still trying to bill me for that 6 years later. I think I had already decided even before the failed appointment that I was fine and at that moment in time I just didn't want to deal with it. I had other things to stress about. I was going on my second year in college, just started a new job, and my grandfather was slowly slipping away.

A couple years later, after winning the battle with breast cancer and another battle with lung cancer, my grandmother was fighting a final battle with a brain tumor. So for Valentine's Day Allan got me my pink ribbon tattoo. Around that time I was starting to embrace pink as symbol of sisterhood.

As for me and my breast disease I've accepted that the fibroadenomas are there and until I'm ready they won't be going away. Some days I wish I still had insurance, because every once in a while there can be sharp pains, but not for very long. It's mostly just uncomfortable when I'm sitting at my desk at work or with a group of people out and can't express what I'm feeling. Most days I don't even notice them, though. They've become a part of me for now. I know that some people close to me want me to have it taken care of, but they realize that ultimately it will happen when I'm ready.

It's because of my experiences with my breast cancer scare and my grandmother's battle, as well as the stories shared by others, that I've come to love pink. I have bought pink ribbon pens, post its, and pins. I have a pink ribbon tattooed on my ankle. Viva's first toy was a pink Hope tennis ball. Everytime I see anything pink it reminds me of the spirit of the women (and men), as well as their supporters who are fighting breast cancer. And most of all when I see pink it reminds me to not be afraid. If that day comes I know I won't be alone.

October is almost over, but I just want to remind every one that it is breast cancer awareness month.

some sites for more information on breast cancer:


  1. I remember that day in the hallway! When the time comes that you want to take care of them, I'm here!! Well, I'm here either way! I heart you sister!

  2. you're a strong person and will always be, i admire you for that, and someday hope that i can gain the strength that you have one day...=) love you!!

  3. Rie, you are one of the absolute strongest women I know. YOU amaze me.

  4. Aww, what a fabulous post!!

    Hmm, about the cancer etc - have you checked the nutrition and toxics and lifestyle connection?
    We know a guy who healed his leukemia with vegetable juicing (organic - even bought a farm for that!) - after it was declared 'hopeless' by the doctors!

    There was a TV show here in Slovenia recently where some people reported similar (after being diagnosed with untreatable cancer) too!
    Not all cancers are the same, and we are all different, it's worth checking out, still!

    My Aunt and Grandma who had cancer were conventionally treated (in hospital) and are trying to eat healthier now, and so far - so good!! :)

    Aunt had breast cancer, was operated and treated with chemo a bit, now she no longer lives in a very chemically polluted city working in a chemical factory, they moved away into the green and after more than a decade she seems quite allright! (Except for some diabetes she got at a very stressful time inbetween, and partly due to love of baking I guess.. All my awesome relatives from that chemical city who love to bake got diabetes, sigh.. Probably why I'm afraid to bake, lol!)

    I try to eat and live as healthy and eco as possible.. :) Still learning though.. Great blog!

    PS I hated pink as a kid too and now I LOVE it! lol!

  5. Thank you for sharing. (I'm sorry my comment is so late, I've been marking this unread in my reader until I knew what to say. And still, this is what I came up with?)


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