breast cancer

Pink’s just not her colour

Pink: pink ribbons, pink shirts, pink containers, pink on pink.

It’s the colour of the month.

When my mother was a girl, pink was the colour for boys.  Not anymore, not ever more.  Now in October, it’s become the ubiquitous symbol of wounded breasts.  No, it’s not the colour for boys anymore.

Whoever thought that such a colour would take on such ominous tone?

Bashert stood in the shadow of that terrifying pink ribbon her entire adult life.

Her mother, sister and five maternal aunts all felt the torture of the pink monster.  Only one has survived to tell her story in person.  All developed the horror near the golden mammogram advisement age of 40.  Bashert’s sister was below.

It took this truncated family tree to finally convince the medical community to listen.  The insurance world remained quite hard of hearing though.

Bashert could finally receive annual mammograms under the age of 40, although the doctor would have to recertify the reasoning each and every year.  She started at 34.

A spot was found at 38.

After another mammogram, CT scan and sonogram, nothing could be found, but nothing could be ruled out either.  An MRI was ordered.  Into the magnetic tunnel she would go, alone and afraid.

Nothing.  They found nothing.  The sadistic waiting game began again.

But Bashert had enough.  She no longer wanted to exist under the pink specter.  She no longer wanted to expose herself to the x-ray radiation and the injected dyes every year for the rest of her life: the rest of her life.

She decided on the closest thing to a guarantee modern science can offer.

She opted for a little off the top.

Bashert will always have the breasts of a sixteen year old and a 5% chance of being visited by the pink monster.

The ever looming fear she lived with long before we ever met finally moved out.  A passing thought now, rather than an all consuming relationship.  Thanks for the mammories.  It was the breast of times, but someone had to cut the tie that bind.

What courage and strength it takes to become a different type of survivor.

I think these brave women who decide to beat the pink bastard before it gains ground deserve a colour of their own.

I vote for rust.

Pink is a tint of red.  Rust is a shade of red.  Opposite ends of the same survivor spectrum.

Rust means that something has weathered the elements and come out with more character. It’s the warm colour of autumn when things begin to draw into themselves, casting off the things that will take energy from them and building their reserves for renewal.

Yes, I think rust would suit just fine.

See Bashert’s image of my rust ribbon:

Just keep singing

I attended a funeral today.  A friend lost her valiant, last battle against breast cancer.

Jewish funerals are usually pretty cut and dry. The rabbi may say a few words, but for the most part, they follow a certain rhythm of traditional prayers and solemnity.  Family members rarely speak.

Today was different.

Her son sang a psalm to honor his mother that I shall not soon forget.

Alberta was a woman with a voice.  The kind of voice that brings to mind Ethel Merman. It was unmistakable.

Alex recalled his mother’s love of singing with that voice.  But unlike her grandfather, a professional opera singer, Alberta was not bestowed with so much melodic talent.  Nor was she the best at remembering the words to what she sang, be it prayers in service or popular music to her children.

She sang for the joy it brought to her soul. If she could not recall the words, she filled in with la-la’s.  She just kept singing.

Alex said he tried to find the perfect song that would summarize his mother.  And like with many things, inspiration and revelation come from unexpected sources.  Alex found his mother’s song playing in his car by random shuffle.

From Wicked – Defying Gravity:

So if you care to find me

Look to the western sky!

As someone told me lately:

“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”

And if I’m flying solo

At least I’m flying free

To those who’d ground me

Take a message back from me

Tell them how I am

Defying gravity

I’m flying high

Defying gravity

And soon I’ll match them in renown

And nobody in all of Oz

No Wizard that there is or was

Is ever gonna bring me down!

For all the struggles Alberta faced in her life, this truly was her anthem.  She was a woman who loved her family, community, friends and life. And she kept on singing.

It would do us all good if we just kept singing.

Keep belting them out Alberta. Nothing can bring you down now. Fly free.