Cancer not just a pink ribbon

I wrote those words with someone in mind. But I give it to everyone from the heart.

Recently, someone close to me had a cancer diagnosis thrust upon her. Both breasts would need to be surgically removed. It didn’t matter whether it was Stage II or Stage IV. It was cancer. Period.

An agonizing week passed before I came to ruminate over the breast cancer “pink ribbon” crusade that has been part of our health care thinking pattern for many years.

I could not fathom how anyone who had been given such a terrifying diagnosis could liken breast cancer to a soft sweet pink garden rose or the pristine hues of a sinking sunset. So, at midnight (I recall the hour because I felt my heart pounding as I glanced at the kitchen clock), I started to type, to record my private thoughts, to write. To write what I truly felt about breast cancer.

It is crying when you should, yet laughing when you should not. It is sweaty nightmares when your dreams should be loving. It is anger when your rage punishes you even more. It is self-loathing that this is your own fault.

It is trying to understand why it is happening. It is trying to understand why it is happening to you.

It is clumsily wiping away the flood of tears, but it is welcoming those tears when you are alone. It is believing that death may be a shroud too close, and it is hoping that a new morning will be even closer.

It is loving even more the caring and dedicated ones. It is loathing even more the wasted time in the past. It is hugging the courage when no courage seemed possible. It is forcing a smile when no smile was forthcoming.

It is detesting every mirror ever made. It is a private moment of finally welcoming your image. It is the strength of survival and honouring your courage, as it is only you who brought you this far.

Breast cancer is not death. And for those who really know, it is not a pink ribbon.

I wrote those words with someone in mind. But I give it to everyone from the heart.

Elisabeth Paterson