- When we moved into our new house when I was five years old, my mother helped me decorate my new bedroom. I chose the colors: pink and brown. My mother found fabric of bright pink and brown flowers to make the curtains and the bedspread. And then she went a little crazy. She painted the walls bright pink. She found an old secretary desk and painted it pink. She found a vintage kitchen clock in an amazing Pepto-Bismol. Pink was the last thing I saw before I closed my eyes at night, and the first thing I saw when I heard the birds singing in the morning. My toys had pink ribbons. My favorite stuffed animal, a frog named Murgatroyd, was appropriately green on his back, but his abdomen? A bright pink felt. I was surrounded in pink, drowning in pink.
And after a while, I grew weary of pink. Pink had lost its appeal.
Now, more than forty years later, I find myself once again surrounded by pink. The marketing genius of Komen Foundation has spread pink everything to the four corners of the Earth. The whole damn’ month of October is pink. Pinktober. And it has also become meaningless, has lost its appeal. Pink is the color of a little girl, sweet and innocent. Pink is the color of flowers, hair ribbons, 80s prom dresses, of cotton candy. Pink is not the color of adult women, suffering from a horrific disease.
Cancer isn’t pink. On pictures of scans, it is black as night. I imagine it as dark red, bulbous purple, brownish-grey, without well-defined borders, eating people. It is ugly, it is monstrous. It has eaten friends. My former colleague and friend died recently from Stage IV metastatic breast cancer, and I attended her visitation in early October, that month of pink. The sky was grey. The brick on the church was brown. Many people wore black. Their faces were pale, colorless. I imagine no one in that church was thinking pink thoughts. No one was passing out pink candy. No one was selling t-shirts, from which a “portion” of the proceeds would go to cancer research. They were just thinking about having lost that bright light, that friend, that daughter, that sister, that mother.
I would like to change “Pinktober” to “Thinktober”. Think. About where you want your money to go. You can buy a pink mixer, a pink car, a pink pair of running shoes…or you can donate your money to a cause that really matters. That same wonderful woman, before she died, had suggested several organizations on her blog that are helping those living with the disease, or actually doing research to help save lives or increase quality of life for those whose cancer has metastasized. You can find this list at http://www.livinglegendary.org/top10/.
Think before you Pink.
--Joy Garling Prud'homme