MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – I will admit, when my dad was diagnosed with a rare type of leukemia years ago, I resented Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
It seemed like I was inundated in October with images of rose-colored 5K runs, pink tutus, and “Save the Tatas” t-shirts. Everyone was so celebratory in the quest to raise awareness. But weren’t we aware enough about breast cancer? What about acute myelomonocytic leukemia? Where were the t-shirts for that? I was sad, and admittedly a little disillusioned after my dad died from it.
But then, the disease struck again: My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Then, my aunt was.
Then I was.
In an act of poetic irony, I guess, I was diagnosed right in the middle of October.
It didn’t take long for my eyes to open to the different types of struggles people with breast cancer face. And the absolutely staggering number of people who have it.
So as this October comes to a close, my first as a breast cancer survivor, I’m working to understand the ways people chose to recognize this month. Some have quietly grieved the loss of a loved one. Others might be reflecting on a life with the disease. Indeed, some celebrated, hosting virtual fundraisers and Zoom happy hours, decked out in pink.
I also learned that, yes, there are 5Ks and fundraisers and innovative research for blood cancers, too. I’m thankful for it.
I am breast cancer-free, as are my mom and aunt. I’m grateful to have a job as a reporter so I can help spread the word about early detection and awareness, even if sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve done enough. Oh, and I actually am liking the color pink a lot these days.