Friday, October 23, 2015

A Rant About Pink

I'm not a very emotional person.  I get it from my mom, whom I've seen cry an entire two times in my life, both when people close to her had passed away.   My kids have definitely seen me cry more often than that, but it's still a very irregular occurrence.  

That's why when I got all teary eyed and upset at Emma's orthodontist appointment the other day, it took me totally off guard.    I went in there feeling just fine, but as I sat there looking at the entire office bedecked in pink for breast cancer awareness, something in me snapped.  
 Pink is everywhere this month--in the grocery stores, on the soccer fields, and now in the orthodontist office.  I have nothing against breast cancer awareness, in fact I think it's great that there's so much support out there for any type of cancer, but in that moment I became acutely sad that during the entire month of September, I barely saw any kind of acknowledgement that it was childhood cancer awareness month.      There were no gold ribbons bedecking anything other than the Facebook pages of other parents who belong to the same crappy club that I do of having had a kid face a very adult disease.  

Somehow our society has made it acceptable to think about  women who end up losing their breasts to mastectomies, but heaven help us, don't you dare burst our bubbles and remind us that kids get cancer too!   Never mind that not only are these kids who die losing decades more off their lives than adults, but even the lucky ones who live often suffer with horrible  after-effects from their treatments that greatly diminish their quality of life.   

Take the ubiquitous "chemo brain" that you hear cancer survivors talk about.   Chemo brain is parr for the course for the average middle-age cancer survivor and they complain of not being able to remember people's names as well, or having to write things down that they can't remember.   Unpleasant and not convenient for sure, but try thinking the havoc that chemo wreaks  on a STILL DEVELOPING BRAIN!  

Now just imagine having chemo brain when you're 20 and trying to take a full load of college classes.  
IT SUCKS!!!!!     

The  nurses have to wear protective clothing to even administer the noxious chemo cocktails  that these have PUMPED INTO THEIR BODIES for month after month, until they either die or they're "cured".  And even when they're so called cured, their bodies are never the same.

My son was one of the lucky ones who survived, and I am forever grateful for that, but by golly don't get so lost in the pink that you  forget that kids get cancer too.   

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Epilogue: 
   I used the opportunity  to talk to  the orthodontist about childhood cancer awareness month.   He was genuinely curious about Spencer and, in general, wanted to know more about the challenges that face childhood cancer patients.   He indicated that he would be interested to get the office involved in childhood cancer awareness month next September.  Now, I just need to gather a packet of information for him and follow up with him in about ten months! 


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If you want to do something: 
Less than 5% of federal funding for cancer research goes to childhood cancers.   If you want to make a difference,  CureSearch and Alex's Lemonade Stand are both worthy charities who use a large percentage (with little overhead cost) of their donations to finding a cure for childhood cancers.   

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2 comments:

R said...

What a brave person you are to talk to the orthodontist about it knowing you would probably get emotional. Kind of makes me mad that most of the publicity about cancer is on breast cancer when there are so many other cancers. Everyone know what pink is for, but nobody knows about any of t h e other cancer colors.

Jennifer McArthur said...

I was so touched by your perspective on this. Thank you for sharing some of what your personal experience has been. I'm embarrassed to say that I did not even know September was childhood cancer awareness month, but every time I turn on the TV (especially if there's an NFL game on), I'm reminded of breast cancer awareness. Love to you and yours!

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