“These things aren’t tied with a pink ribbon”

This is a raw, sad, and honest poem written by Lisa Bonchek Adams. She published it nearly two years ago… when her treatments were over, but their effects were not (and would never be). This is the part that tugs at me:

Beneath the pretty lies ugly,
the ugly truth of cancer
and what it has taken from me.
While some may be able to go on,
move on,
I cannot.
My body will not let me.
These things are not tied with a pink ribbon.
These things last longer than a month.
This is part of awareness.
This is part of what breast cancer can do.
This is what it has done to me.

Unless you are blind, shopping-averse, or trapped beneath something heavy, you’ve noticed that October has become shrouded in pink. Billboards are plastered with beautiful celebrity survivors, sporting Cancer-didn’t-beat-me! smiles and cascading hair atop their plunging necklines. And all of us are hen pecked with requests to donate, walk, buy, carry, wear, and otherwise marinate in the rosy mindfulness that Breast Cancer Exists. I’d been warned that I might have an unusually strong reaction to all of this Awareness, but it was the brutal honesty of this poem that informed my urge to yell at the telemarketers.

“Did you know that there currently is NO cure for breast cancer?”

Awesome reminder. Could you leave it on the answering machine again to frighten the children? And 5pm is a super time to call moms with short hair, implants, and smallish, hungry boys with homework.

You might think I’d want to transfer our entire 401K to the scientists in charge of my unknown future. But, you know, I think I’ve given quite enough… and sometimes, I’m still angry. That 7mm aggregate of evil cells robbed me of my body, and my Peace. Chemo has made list-making necessary, and finding the car a challenge. Of course, every day gets a teensy bit easier. At least, as Kelli said, “… until I take off my shirt… then the PTSD kicks in and a few days of Xanax is called for…” I do think these pink promotions are a good and great thing, but for millions of us (and many millions more who experienced the fallout while baking us muffins, driving our kids around, and reading our blogs) we’re Aware, thank you very much. The Frying Pan of Breast Cancer has collectively conked us over the head, and the birdies are still circling. Can you see them? They’re fucking pink.

Of course, there are oodles of other ways that Pink-tober is heart-warming. Seeing a picture of my ninth grade cousin and her girlfriends devote every Wednesday this month to Awareness makes me smile. And I went on a survivor-entitled Bloomies shopping spree under the guise of supporting Pink causes. But because everything is a little cuter, a little prettier in ruddy hues, practically any household item can be found as a Pepto Bismol-dipped nod to the not-so-cute or pretty struggle it supports. The scars, fear, cold, nightmares, loss… these Halloween-y sentiments match up more closely to any Awareness I’m feeling. And these things… these things aren’t tied with a pink ribbon.

Lisa, the brave writer, mom, survivor… Lisa just went public with the news that her Cancer is back, in the treatable-not-curable way ( I’ve never met Lisa, but her news leaves me sad and scared. I found a website entitled “F**K AWARENESS, Find a Cure” with nary a pink ribbon embellishment. I’d like to throw a few back with those guys. Buying the pink crap isn’t going to help Lisa, although our “awareness” of her devastating diagnosis just might. I have great faith in the medicines that will keep Lisa living to tell, and even more in the Peace that comes from our prayers. Mine are headed her way, tied up with love and hope that transcend all sense or science (or color).


Freshman in Oviedo, FL for The Cure:  adorable awareness