Breast Cancer blog

Breast cancer blog: Pink Ladies

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 May, 2014, 1:09pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 May, 2014, 1:09pm

I’ve never been a big fan of pink – that is, until breast cancer. The irony is that now my wardrobe is packed with pink. There are the pink sunglasses, the pink swim cap, pink nail polish and pink flats. Of course, it’s very girly, but it’s also about advocacy.

On a recent Saturday morning I got up at dawn and joined the Susan G. Komen’s annual Race for the Cure. I’d signed up for the race as part of my New Year resolution - if I had a second chance at life, I’d like to make a difference and give something back. So I created “Team Amy” and enlisted the fiancé and sister as virtual teammates. They donated and promised to be cheerleaders from the sidelines. This was my first foray into advocacy, and also the first time I realised what a big cause breast cancer is.

You know it’s big when Washington D.C. opens an entire subway line at 5.30am, an hour and a half earlier than usual, and the metro is packed solely with people wearing attire with pink ribbons. On the way to the event I met a couple who had flown all the way from Miami, Florida, to join their daughter and her friends in walking for this cause. I had been nervous than I wouldn’t be able to find the start line for the race, but I needn’t have worried because the moment I stepped off the metro I simply followed a throng of women wearing pink baseball caps and T-shirts.

“Just follow the pink,” a fellow participant said to me.

Little prepared me for this experience. I was thrown into an ocean of pink.

I was immediately welcome because of my status; I was a “VIP” by the very fact that I’m a cancer survivor. There were 1,500 of us cancer survivors who stood out with our pink shirts, while the supporters wore white. There was a special VIP section just for survivors with a bountiful breakfast spread and three tables of pretty hats that waited to be decorated with mountains of glitter, beads and boa feathers. The rock music, a blend of the top 40 hits, blared from speakers from an expansive stage, reminding me of a party. This was a party, no wait this was a cause, I reminded myself. I made instant friends with fellow survivors, many of them at least a decade older than me.

“Is this your first time?” I asked. No, many had been coming for years. We made fun hats together and shared bits and pieces of our journey through recovery.

“You can’t miss the survivor parade,” a seasoned participant told me. So I wore my homemade pink hat and joined the parade. There was every pink paraphernalia imaginable - pink wings, tutus, pink ribbon tattoos, pink breast cancer ribbon antlers. There was a media frenzy and a greeting from the entertainer Queen Latifah, and there were the survivors who carried placards, reminders to others of what they had been through - a reminder that we’d been through this fight. One of the event’s main sponsors and master of ceremonies was John Cena, the WWE wrestling superstar.

By the end of the 5K walk I was inspired and elated. I wanted to do it again, and I wanted to do more. I felt the same shot of adrenaline that one gets after a rock concert. Still, in the back of my mind I wondered why after such successful events and fundraising, even after a tsunami of pink, there was still no cure. After the party - then what? What next? I called the sister and thank her for her support, then called the fiancé. I’d reached my fundraising goal for Team Amy.

“I finished the race, it was great,” I said.

I returned to the VIP survivor tent in time for a spread of desserts and dancing around the sound stage. It felt wonderful and yet I thought now what, what next?

For more information about the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

For more information about breast cancer campaigns check out Pink Ribbons Inc