Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pretty in Pink

This weekend I walked the Susan G. Komen 5k. I "raced" with 5973 officially timed racers. Among them were hundreds (thousands?) of breast cancer survivors. I was part of a team (Knights for a Cure--woot woot). We had 36 team members. Three of them are cancer survivors and one is currently undergoing treatment. That's 11% of my team for those of you who might be trying to do the math. Does that seem like a lot to you? It does me.

The Oceanfront was awash in pink. I saw things like this:

And lots of these:

I also saw tears. And hope. Strength. And grief.

It was a powerful morning.

The most powerful moment came about a mile into the 5k when we slowed to try to find a friend of my friend Bree. They worked together at Bree's old school. She was in her second (yes, second) battle with breast cancer when Bree found her lump at the frighteningly young age of 32. When they saw each other there were tears. It had been years since she had last done a Komen race. (Back when Bree started doing them it was a "try to wear a pink shirt and join us for a walk" event. These days there are swag bags and Panera even has special bagels!)

The event brings back pretty powerful emotions. Bree made her put on her survivor shirt and walk with us.

I got to finish the walk with her when Bree's adorable twins saw the beach at the half way turn and bolted for the sand (they're two and a half--its OK). We chatted. Mostly about normal, non-cancer related stuff while surrounded by a sea of pink. We finished together. I took her picture at the finish and we ran into another of her friends/team member who is also a survivor. (But obviously not with my camera because I am a terrible blogger...sigh.)

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is a time for everything pink. I love me some pink. But I tend to stay away from it in October. That seems counter-intuitive, I know. Personally I wonder how much of the profits of pink products (helllooooo alliteration!)  is actually going towards cancer research. I'm cynical and think that everyone is trying to make a buck. (Kudos to my high school's football team for wearing pink at homecoming on Friday, though!! That was a first ever for them and I was really happy to see it.)

October is about more than donning pink. It is time to celebrate the successes in the battles won. It is also a time to remember and mourn those who did not survive the battle.

Whatever you do for breast cancer awareness in October (or any of the other 11 months), do it proudly and please, please, do it for a purpose and not just because everyone else is doing it.

How big is Komen in your area? Did you do the Race for the Cure?

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