Friday, October 18, 2013

Seriously?

October is a crazy month.  The children and their schedules are in full centrifugal force with mothers and fathers engaging in their best juggling and balancing acts, hanging on for dear life with gas fumes in their cars on the non-stop commutes and last minute meal plans at odd hours of night.  Professional workloads seem to ramp up in anticipation of the looming holiday season and festive periods on the horizon.  For those of us in the world of PINK, October is a month-long to-do list of advocating, fund-raising, public relations and a mission to change the “awareness” into action.

October is also apparently the month of complainers.  Yup, I said it out loud.  Whoa, did I miss the memos and the memes announcing October as the month to air all grievances?  National Bitch About Everything Month. 

Here’s my disclaimer:  maybe I am a bit frazzled and frayed around the edges due to the aforementioned non-stop days filled with fifteen hours of responsibilities.  The little “things” are like subtle sandpaper rubbing with gentle friction until my nerves are screaming: out  “SERIOUSLY!?”

Our local prelude to the Mayoral election in early November is getting pretty messy and the cesspool is enlarging by day.  Politics is ugly; always has been muddy and always will be.  We have an incumbent who has done a pretty decent job since 1994 – nearly twenty years.  The man has a pretty sordid personal life, one that would certainly make fodder for reality TV fans and spawns much of the town drama.  Is a public servant subject to the same rules of morality in his ability to do his job?  I would not want to be judged on my ability to do my career based on the skeletons in my closet.  Personally, I am good at what I do in my day to day means of earning a living.  Is it my boss’s business what I do behind closed doors?  I have my own heavy judgments on said incumbent candidate, but as an “educated” voter, is it not my duty to weigh the pros and cons of each candidate and determine who the best person for the job is? 

When the campaigning began, I knew very little of the opponent – the person brave enough to face the long term resident of the mayoral office.  I have been doing my research and soaking up more information about this relatively unknown person who has actually been sitting in a civil seat.  However, the election ramp up has become a vat of uber-toxic mud-wrestling and frankly, I have had enough.  I am very eager to hear both sides and listen to the debates; but unfortunately, the negative campaigning has overruled any rational logic.  My thoughts of moving to a deserted island, where none of this “BS” exists, is surmounting and immensely appealing.

Seriously?


 
How about we stop the complaining?  Instead of steamrolling one another with what we do not like about the opposing party, how about we start cheerleading for the candidate we think is best?  I love Mickey Mouse because he's such a leader and always comes to the rescue.  More palatable than Donald Duck sucks because he wears no pants and mumbles in that grating voice.
I really dislike being told what to do.  Therefore, telling me not to vote for the incumbent because you think he’s a scumbag or that he’s a typical politician does not sway my vote one way or another.  Telling me that I should not vote for the relative new-comer because she’s a bitch, not invested in our community and is a scapegoat for another candidate down the line also does not sway my vote on the matter.  Tell me why your candidate is the best person for the job!  Tell me why your candidate can continue to make my home town community the stellar place it is!  Otherwise, I may simply turn my hearing aid off and start singing, “Puff The Magic Dragon” (which, by the way, my thirteen year old son informs me is “stupid” and “about drugs”.  WHAT?  I loved that movie as a young child, it’s not about drugs!)

Of course, as I continue my personal efforts to make a change in my society through my charitable endeavors, the complaints rifle through my pretty pink pathway as well.  The phrase, “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished” is ripe and relevant as we surge through the third week of the month of breast cancer causes.  The critics, the nay-sayers, the haters, and local friends are mouthing off about so much……..um, stuff.  I apologize if my eyes involuntarily roll up backwards into my head as the simultaneous toxic verbiage spews out of your mouth.  I do not intend to be disrespectful whatsoever.  I simply choose which negativity gets any of my attention or not.  (Usually the latter).

Perhaps my own “adventure” through cancer land has given me a different set of tools in which to navigate life.  As much as I am working on the eyeball roll thing (I know it’s not flattering), I am about as clich├ęd as it gets and I do not “sweat the small stuff”.  While the complainers may be sitting high on their bitching bandwagon, I prefer to go my own way, even alone if necessary. 

Yesterday, after my own oncology visit, I quickly scooted over for a visit with a loved one who is currently waging her own war on the hematology oncology floor at the hospital.  While my friends are engaging in verbal battles of town politics; or blaming others for what makes them angry at life – my world stops so I can take in a warrior simply trying to stay alive.  Side effects from the very poison that will keep her alive are raging rampant on her body.  Her now non-existent immune system does not allow me my nurturing nature of wanting to hold her, rock her and comfort her with my human touch.  The strongest girl alive is now weepy because she does not feel well and in fact, she hates to admit that she feels so very weak.  My heart breaks off into a million little pieces and my own eyes are filled to the brim with tears.  I suffered horrifically during my cancer treatment so that no one else I loved had to ever face the same awful torment.  Yet, here she is – falling apart – so that she can come back together again, stronger and more beastly than ever before……but she has to experience it and we have to watch it.
Seriously?

 
My perspective has been re-aligned, yet again. 

As I was feeling angry about the trend of the recent weeks becoming 2013’s Bitch-Fest, I was overwhelmed with the task of calibrating my feelings and emotions.  For all the good going on in the world, my rose-colored glasses were fogging up and fast.  I needed help. 
And then it came.

A fellow soccer mom showed me her young daughter’s social media post in which she talked about being inspired to make positive change in her world.  When I was about to lose some of my own hope while nursing my broken heart, the bright light lit me up and filled my very being.  Based on my own personal choices and the roads I choose to embark upon, a young girl thanked me for showing her the way.  Suddenly, my vigor is re-fueled and I know what I have to do......what a gift from her to me!
October is a beautiful month, filled with changing leaves and comforting stews.  Yes.  Life is also a  spectacular opportunity to embrace change and comfort one another.  I am ready.  Are you?

Here's a great way someone else started:  http://now.msn.com/diner-picks-up-tab-after-overhearing-bad-news-in-boston-restaurant

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Graphic Look at PINK


I do not hate pink.  In fact, I find it to be a flattering color for me and the several shades of pink represent so much more for me in my life post-cancer. 

I do hate the way pink is used.  Pinkwashing.  Have you heard of it?  Tell me  you have not walked into any box store in the month of October and you have not been drowned in pink as it is everywhere.  Pink has been branded into a commercial enterprise of its own; namely for many corporations to jump on the breast cancer “awareness” bandwagon and ultimately, reap the benefits of its bottom line profit margin.



Debates abound with some die-harders telling me that a pink ribbon on their bucket of fried chicken does make them stop and think about their breast health for a moment.

 Come on!  <Insert my most dramatic, sarcastic eye-roll right here!> 

Seriously, is it not infuriating that the pink ribbon – a symbol of a horrendous disease and a cause to “cure” the same – is somewhat misplaced on a bucket of obesity inducing fried chicken?  How does that pink ribbon on a bag of cat food or cat litter help women with their breast health?  Personally, I have seen the ribbon on everything from toilet paper, bubble wrap, Italian sausages, yogurts, duct tape, and countless other items of merchandise for sale.
We KNOW, we KNOW, we KNOW breast cancer exists.  Can we all safely say we are very AWARE that breast cancer is a profound problem currently today?  Um, yes.  Do not even get me started on "the cure".....that is another blog post in and of itself.

Have you read the label to see how much of your “donation” by purchase of said item actually goes to the purported cause?  Maybe ten percent, or maybe ten cents or maybe the disclaimer is as vague as “a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of this product goes to a breast cancer charity (or to breast cancer research).”  Wait, what?

Where is YOUR money going?

Buying pink does not necessarily do anything for the hundreds of thousands battling breast cancer each year.  In fact, many of the so-called pink items actually contain ingredients that may CAUSE cancer.  Yay for a cure! 

Come on!  <Insert my most dramatic, sarcastic eye-roll right here!> 

We CAN do better than this!  We can, we can, we can!!!!

Let me tell you a little about breast cancer.  Your brain will permanently etch the sound waves of your surgical oncologist calling you to tell you that you have cancer.  You will hear that voice in your head for the remainder of your life.  You will never, ever forget the dread, the fear, and the pit in the bottom of your innermost core knowing you have a disease that may possibly take your life.

Your eyes will never erase the image of a nurse donning all but a HazMat suit to come administer the insanely toxic and potent poison right….into…your veins.  The fear of watching the gelatinous “Red Devil” (aka Adriamycin) arriving in the largest syringe you have ever laid eyes on (bigger than a turkey baster, people) being slowing pushed into the IV port and the feeling of the cool toxic substance surge into your body is similar to what you envision being tortured may be like.  You will also panic at the sight of a technician coming in with a metal lockbox containing the radioactive isotopes they inject INTO YOU.  Anything that must be under lock and key in a protective safe and deemed *radioactive* (I think Chernobyl if you will), must not be thrust into your bloodstream.  Oh, yes, it does.

Despite drinking gallons of liquids to counter the effects of the noxious chemicals soaring through your system, you will not forget the feeling of not being able to poop.  That is right.  You insist to yourself that what goes in MUST come out.  However, trying to poop on chemotherapy is nearly impossible.  You actually consider an emergency room visit because it….just…..will…..not……come…..out.  You cry.

Your breasts will never be the same.  Ever.  Not only will you show hundreds of different people your boobies on a daily basis, you will not be able to pull off the name Misty Rain and get tips in your thong for displaying these beautiful mounds.  Oh, did I mention that about ninety-five percent of these people who gawk at your boobs will also touch them.  Yup.  Men and women.  Young, middle-aged, and old.  You cannot help but wonder how many boobs they touch every day in their professional lives.  Seriously, your mind goes there.

Your armpit will be scarred and lymph nodes taken for good.  Your breasts may be one or all of the following:  scarred, misshapen, lopsided, tattooed, puckered, dimply, discolored, numb, plastic, radiation-induced firm, mis-matched nippled, lumpy, filled with scar tissue or fatty necrosis or even reconstructed from tissue from somewhere else on your body.  Your emotional outlook on how your feminine breasts are now far from how you were made naturally may take a huge hit causing you to hide your breasts from your husband or not want to date for fear of disgusting them.

The bone pain from the other poison, called Taxol, will make you contemplate suicide.  Take the pain of childbirth and delivery but maximize that by 1000% and pretend you are getting run over by a gigantic Mack truck crushing all of your bones slowly.  You will ponder if death is a more palatable alternative.

You will have countless side effects long after the treatment has commenced and your support teams have dispersed.  The emotions shift daily and as if on a roller coaster in the Marianas Trench.  The residual bone and joint pain makes you shuffle like a ninety year old.  The phantom striking pains in all of your surgical sites.  The fog brain.  Yes, you will not remember anything like you used to.  Words you know will be stuck…..somewhere…..as you try to complete your sentences.

Welcome, my friends, this….is……PINK.

In an effort, myself, to do better about the world of pink and to make the lives of my fellow cancer counterparts more comfortable, I had to find a way to ensure that change was being made.  I could not ask people for donations to support pink and not be able to tell them where their money was truly going.  With a passionate cancer advocate who has bulldozed change herself, we founded PINK Revolution Breast Cancer Alliance.  Our mission was to ensure that monies that come into our pink world actually go right back out in its entirety (yes, 100% of those monies – no skimmed fat executive salaries of these so-called NON-PROFITS; no operating expenses to cover extravagant five star hotel functions to “rally the troops”; no cents of the dollars actually coming back to the ultimate cause) to help patients you may very well know yourself. 

How can a woman try to fight for her life when she has no disability insurance and cannot work because of the aforementioned “side-effects” of chemotherapy and surgeries; and the assistance she is given through our local social programs is $27/month in food stamps?  Oh sure, what little she will try to eat given the projectile vomiting and constant nausea may amount to $27/month. 

Come on!  <Insert my most dramatic, sarcastic eye-roll right here!> 

Our world has become a fast and furiously paced place to live.  However, we are all humans and we all have the capacity to love one another and to help one another.  Let us bring back the human touch.  Let us take a moment from our busy lives to care for each other.  It truly does take a village, so let us bring that back.

Donations are immensely helpful and help PINK Revolution fund a number of necessities – from local research at UMass Memorial Medical School Research, to leading edge technology (one of five in the world sophisticated tomosynthesis (3D) machines for betting diagnostic imaging) at UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center, to improved patient care and funding for items such as wigs, lymphedema sleeves, prosthetics and so much more.

Make your pink dollars count.  Know with confidence that your donation is making a huge difference in the life of a very real breast cancer warrior.  If you cannot make a donation, there are endless other ways to pay it forward:  make a meal for a family going through cancer treatment, give a patient a ride to their chemotherapy, mow their lawn, rake their leaves, watch their young children, clean their house and set the ripple of pervasive change in place for our future generations.
Let us all be passionately pink. 
Let us all be the start of pervasive change.