There is much wrong with the pink ribbon, more specifically, what it represents. So actually as I keep saying, it’s not really about pink or ribbons at all. It’s about the overuse/misuse of both that is bothersome to so many. This post isn’t about those pink ribbons, it’s about one tiny pink ribbon that for some reason I hold onto for reasons I’m not even entirely sure about myself. Does this make me sound like some sort of hypocrite? Maybe, but I don’t think so, at least I hope not.
Admittedly, before my mother’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, I didn’t really give much thought to pink ribbons. Of course I noticed them, but that was about it.
It wasn’t until my own diagnosis that I was directly handed my first “real” pink ribbon. There’s a weird kind of irony in that. I received it on May 3, 2010 four days after my biopsy confirmed cancer. (Yes, I know the exact date as I was journaling feverishly at the time). My treatment path was yet to be determined. I was waiting to find out if I was BRCA2+. The results would determine if I would be having a lumpectomy or a bilateral. Needless to say, there was a lot of turmoil going on at that time.
Also, I was on a mission to get stuff done.
I was in the “coping by doing and keeping busy” mode which often follows a diagnosis. I was frantically cleaning, shopping, getting things organized, going to doctor appointments, reading everything I could get my hands on about cancer and making lists of “more stuff to do” as I attempted to prepare myself and my family for whatever was ahead.
Actually, I had no clue exactly what was ahead much less how to prepare for it, but busy work can sometimes help get you through and give you some sense of control.
One thing on my list of “stuff” to get done was heading to the mall to do some serious shopping for what I had somehow decided would be necessities for someone like me having breast surgery of some sort.
Naturally, I headed for the lingerie department of Macy’s to pick myself out some new comfortable pajamas. I figured someone having a lumpectomy or bilateral mastectomy would require button down pajama tops that would allow for easy entry and easy removal.
Again ironically, on that exact day Macy’s was “celebrating” breast cancer research (keep in mind this was May, but at least the “celebration” was focused on research), so the clerk reached in her little basket sitting on the counter by the register when I walked by heading for the dressing room and handed me a miniature pink ribbon held together with a tiny gold safety pin. I remember thinking, well; no one even took time to sew this thing together…
But here was the kicker. The clerk unknowingly went on to ask, “Would you be interested in a personalized bra fitting today? We have a wonderful bra fitting specialist with us for this very special event.”
I wanted to say, hell no. There’s no need to measure my chest today. I don’t even know if I will have these breasts in a couple of weeks.
Of course, I didn’t say that.
I merely smiled, took the little pink ribbon and said, “No thank you,” and proceeded to the dressing room.
After making my purchases, I walked out of that lingerie department relieved no one could tell yet I had breast cancer. I also remember wondering if thinking such a thing made me a vain person.
Upon leaving, I headed straight for home and probably an unsuccessful attempt at a nap.
That’s how I ended up with my first and only actual pink ribbon.
It was and still is pretty meaningless to me, but I do know one thing for sure, it did not make me feel any better.
Despite that fact, for some reason I’ve kept that tiny pink ribbon. It’s stashed away in the bottom of one of my unorganized drawers. I imagine it will stay there as some kind of reminder, although of what I’m not exactly sure.
So while there are indeed ten things wrong with the pink ribbon (and probably a whole more), I also understand how some women cling to it, or more than likely cling to a certain one, perhaps not that much unlike mine.
I imagine if a stranger handed me a pink ribbon today, I might have something quite different to say…
So there you have it, a tale of one pink ribbon.
To download a FREE copy of my ebook, Pink Is Just a Color, Ribbons Are Just Ribbons: A collection of writings about pink ribbon shenanigans, Click Here.
Do have an actual pink ribbon or have you ever had one?
How do you feel about pink ribbons?