I’d never been a “pink” sort of girl.  When I was little, my favorite color was yellow; it defines my disposition–sunny, optimistic and “it all happens for a reason.”  Until breast cancer.  

I was diagnosed at 43—a mom with 2 and 5 year old little boys–one month after COVID shut us all down.  I had a hard time finding the silver lining, especially when friends started sending me ALL THE PINK THINGS.  Pink socks, pink notebooks, pink mugs, pink blankets, pink candles.  There were breast cancer and pink ribbon gifts in every shade from bubble gum to fuschia.

I’d seen the pink ribbon and breast cancer awareness month advocates on their 5K runs and via social media  I supported the women who had gone through this.  But I wasn’t one of them.  I didn’t understand then and I certainly didn’t “feel” the pink just days after my diagnosis.  I couldn’t wear the hot pink fuzzy “Fuck Cancer” socks because it was still inside me.  I was begging for doctors to take it out, bargaining with cancer to leave me and my family alone.  I hated the word and everything it represented.  I hated hearing the word and I hated the ribbon.

During that time, my life turned into phases of treatment–chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, with daily doctor visits, scans and check-ups.  But more than that, it was filled with a new sense and appreciation of the mundane and was grateful for any and all help: grocery bag drop offs by from neighbor, food ordering and dinners cooked by my husband, laying in bed in soft pajamas texting or talking to friends when I was feeling ok, managing pills and prescriptions, being with my kids and most of all tending to side effects–dry eyes, burning skin, painful scars, all of it.

But the one thing I didn’t realize about the ribbon, and the thing I have discovered through helping other women in their worst days of cancer, is that at the time of treatment, the pink ribbon can’t mean anything.  It’s a promise of a future you’re not certain will come.  It’s joyful enthusiasm from women who are on the other side of hell–while you’re still smack in the middle.  But when you run the gauntlet, you put in the hours, you feel the pain and joy and pain of the all the good news and the bad, it starts to become something more.  It starts to take shape.  The pink turns into the color of your journey–led by love and hope for a life beyond.

So as I prepare for Breast Cancer Awareness month, my 3rd since diagnosis, I want to set the record straight.  When someone you care about is diagnosed, please don’t send a pink ribbon.  They need much more to weather the harsh days of treatment and all help is good help.  But when they’re done, please celebrate with them–in pink or any color you choose–because their hard-fought battle is one worth sharing, remembering and yes even celebrating.  


From bottom left to bottom right

  1. White Baseball Hat
  2. IV Drip
  3. Ice Cream
  4. Bandage
  5. Gifts
  6. Aloe Vera Plant
  7. Books
  8. Skin Cream
  9. Oranges
  10. Vitals Monitor
  11. Eye Drops
  12. Water Bottle
  13. Cell Phone
  14. Banana
  15. Eye Glasses
  16. Journal
  17. Bags of Groceries
  18. A Helping Hand
  19. Take-Out Food
  20. Wedding Ring
  21. Kids Toys
  22. Medicine Dropper
  23. Bathtub
  24. Moon
  25. Athletic Shoes

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