Think before you Pink

It’s October, so you know what that means.  Everywhere you go, you will be faced with the opportunity to buy something pink.

Pink T-Shirts, Pink Shoelaces, Pink Hats…

Pink Coffee Mugs, Pink Ribbons, Pink Feather Boas…

Pink Medicine Bottle Caps, Pink Bagels, Pink NFL Players…

And it is because of all the success of this pink marketing, that I want to remind everyone to please think before they pink.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  As a woman who has breasts and a family history of cancer, I am all for the increased awareness of everyone in society to the realities of cancer.  I’m glad it’s finally a subject that is in the forefront of the minds of all people, no longer the word that is whispered at the dinner table.  Cancer fighters and survivors don’t have to hide in the back ground or be afraid to talk about their battles, their struggles, their downfalls, and their triumphs.

And, full disclosure, I’ve bought and still do buy pink items.  I’ve signed up for and completed Susan G. Komen races.

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I’ve been known to rock my killer pink Packers sweatshirt on game days.  Plus, those damn pink ribbon bagels are freakin’ delicious.  Can someone please tell me why Panera does not sell those year round?

What I’m talking about here are all those not so honest and reputable companies that pop up this time of year, slap pink on their products, and then use people’s emotions and sense of charity to line their own pockets.

Case in point.

I’m a Big Brother watcher.  I know, I know.  It’s a terrible show.  I’m aware many of the people who go on this show not only have a lot of attention-seeking, ‘I want to be famous’ issues, but also do so for self promotion.  But being a social worker, I enjoy that whole social experiment aspect of this train wreck.

The current season just ended and the “contestants” from this season have recently been released back into society.  Intent to suck as much from their 15 minutes of fame as possible, a number of them are charging full steam ahead to grab as many green backs as they can before the clock hits zero.  Some are selling T-Shirts, others getting paid to make ‘celebrity’ appearances, but this one just turns my stomach.

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Using a deadly and debilitating disease like breast cancer for your own personal financial benefit is disgusting.  Before you get all in an uproar with me about how he is doing something good, let’s run the numbers.  This person has 394,000 followers.  If every one of these followers buys a bracelet, that means he brings in $1,970,000.  Look back at the post.  He specifically mentions proceeds, which I read as, he will subtract any costs from the gross intake.  Let’s assume he could make these 394,000 bracelets for $50,000.  After he subtracts that from the gross intake, that leaves $1,920,000.  Twenty percent of this is $384,000.  That means after expenses and ‘donating’ to charity, this person takes home $1,536,000.  Makes you wonder who the purchasers are really donating to.

Now I will give his credit for putting the numbers out there for those of us who want to do the math to figure it out for ourselves, but the problem is, people are not crunching numbers this time of year, they are just buying based on emotions.

And that is what many ill-intentioned people are counting on.  When most of us see something pink, we assume that, by purchasing that item, we are going to be funding breast cancer research and fighting the good fight.  And, although legally these companies and individuals are not doing anything wrong, they are donating to cancer, I feel many are being morally evil, knowing many of us will blindly buy their pink products, sending less than we know to actual research and more than we wanted to their personal bank accounts.

And here’s where I will dedicate this post to my friend Carrie and her incredible family who have been fighting Cancer and winning for decades now.  She opened my eyes to this topic years ago and has had me reading the fine print ever since.

I’m not saying don’t make a purchase.

Buy the pink if you want to.

Sign up for that race.

Get that mammogram.

Make that donation.

Just think and research before you spend that money.

Make sure your pink purchase truly matters.

And your whole world changes…

 

You know those times in your life when you get a call and you know the information you are about to hear is going to change your life.  You know you need to get to your destination to hear the news, but you want to find something, anything to delay hearing what you have to hear, because you know once you hear it, you can’t unhear it.  Your whole life, your whole world view will forever be changed.  Your destiny, your plans will be altered.  Your foundation will be shaken.  You know you won’t shatter, but you’ll wound and need to heal and forever you’ll be a different person.

I got that call 16 days ago.  It was from my dad.  I needed to get to my parent’s house now.  I knew instantly that what I was about to hear wasn’t going to be good.  I could feel it in my heart.  It wanted to jump in the car right away and I equally wanted to shampoo all my rugs and then clean out the closets, anything to delay the inevitable.  I looked at my husband.  He told me to get in the car and go.  I told him I would.  Then I stood there, trying to come up with a good excuse to waste time.  I has none, so I got in my car and started to drive, ticking off the miles and landmarks.  That’s the last time I’ll leave my house in this reality.  Another street light, another crossroads.  I’m getting closer.  Wanting to turn back, to stop myself from having to hear it, knowing I couldn’t and that I had to keep moving forward.  I parked outside my parent’s house and turned off my truck.  I’m here.  This is it.  Once I walk in that door, my life changes….

~

My mom is and always has been my best friend.  Not in the “let you do what you want, I’ll even sacrifice teaching you responsibility and how to be an adult,” type of way.  No, quite the opposite.  She was the right type of best friend.  She was always a mother, always a parent.  I had rules, boundaries, and limits balanced equally with listening, patience, and love.  I could go to her with any concern, any question.  She was there for me at anytime, for anything.  If she was ever disappointed in me, I never knew, and I felt the appropriate amount of guilt to get me back on track.  She only showed love and support, care and encouragement.  My childhood is full of happy memories wrapped around my mother.

Every Sunday my mom and I would scan the ads and go shopping.  We would tell my dad that we were just going window shopping, but that never happened.  We would always end up finding something we couldn’t live without and have to sneak it in the house, convincing my dad that “this old thing” had been around forever.

To remain “hip” or “rad” to her children, she would make up her own slang.  I secretly think she just messed up the real latest slang, but she always played if off as the latest phrase.  Did you know that things could be “Hot Dog Good!”?  Or that sometimes people should just “cool out!”?

I bought my first cell phone in college, back when they still sold 200 minute plans and you paid by the minute through the nose if you went over.  For my 200 minutes, I paid something ridiculous like $30 a month.  (I know…$30 a month!)  I thought that there would be no way that I would go over my minutes, I mean, seriously, I was only going to use this phone for emergencies, like car trouble or being chased by a serial killer.  Then I got my first bill.  I nearly died.  I had gone over my time and owed extra per minute.  As I scanned the bill, I noticed all of my calls were to my mother…who I still lived with and saw every morning and night.

About 14 years ago, by husband took a job out-of-state and we attempted to move away.  We backed up our belongings and moved across the country.  Mom went with to help us move, planning to stay a week and take the train back.  She helped us pack, drive, move in, and unpack.  Long story short, we didn’t stay and moved back within a week.  Mom canceled the train ticket and helped us re-pack, drive back and re-move into the place with left a week prior.  She said that was the last time she went on vacation with us, our cats, and our furniture.

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I walked into my parents house and was told the following words…. Your mom has cancer.  I can’t have heard that right.  My mom just turned 60, she can’t have cancer.  She just can’t.  This isn’t happening.  Life changed.  World forever altered.

The following two weeks were a whirlwind of worry, questions, waiting, hoping and praying.  Waiting for the oncology appointment.  Waiting for the surgery date.  Worrying about what the surgery outcome would be.  Worrying about what the future would hold.  Being afraid…so afraid of all the questions, that unknown.  There were just too many possibilities.  Wanting to hope for the best.  Praying for the best.  Praying that you’d done enough right in your life that you could trade those good deeds in for a big ol’ miracle.

Yesterday was the day.  Surgery day.  The day when we’d start to get answers and begin the road down one path or the other.  Best case scenario, the surgery gets all the cancer and mom just has to be monitored for make sure it stays gone.  Worst case scenario, it’s spread already and then the future continues to change.  I wanted so bad to say that we were going to hear good news, but didn’t want to tempt fate by verbalizing it.   We smiled, we hugged, we tried to ease each other’s fears.  The prayers had been put out into the universe and the rest was out of our hands.  They wheeled her down the hall to her future.

After what seemed like both and eternity and the snap of a finger, the nurse moved us to a private room to meet with the doctor.  The cancer was contained to the organ.  The cancer had not evaded the organ wall.  He was confident he got it all.  He has no reason to believe there will be the need for additional treatment.  He believes that got it all.

And then we all let out the breath we didn’t know we were holding in.

Our prayers were answered.

My mom has had cancer.

I know that she deserved every answered prayer and miracle she was given.

I’m not so sure that I did, but I’ll live the rest of my life trying to prove myself worthy.