When Pink Gets Personal

The numbers are scary. Every three minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Every 12 minutes another person dies from the disease. In the United States, some 2 million women have been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer. Those facts come courtesy of a Pink PBA-free bottle I bought this month, when all the stores are flush with pink products promoting breast cancer awareness. I even saw chicken feed in a pink-accented bag. I kid you not.

I have to admit, there have been times when I have been somewhat annoyed with all the pink. Not that I don’t think that breast cancer awareness is a worthy cause. I’ve just thought there have been equally worthy causes that don’t get such attention. Heart disease is a No. 1 killer. Obesity is taking a majority of us down one day at a time. Veterans go homeless. Countless children around the world die each year because they don’t have access to clean drinking water. These are all causes worthy of ribbons and colored products and all sorts of recognition.

My attitude has changed this October, though. On Thursday my mom underwent her first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. She was diagnosed this summer, had a lumpectomy in September, and is aching today from a shot meant to stimulate white blood cell production. By next week she’ll start to lose her hair, and she’ll go to Upper Arlington to “shop” for a wig. Perhaps out of sympathy, but probably from my own selfish worries, I’ve been shedding hair like a long-haired Persian cat for a month now. What would I do without my mom? It’s not until you become a parent yourself that you truly realize how much your own mother loves you. I refuse to believe that my mother will succumb to this disease. And I thank god that she was proactive about her health–undergoing yearly mammograms that detected the out-of-control cells long before they would have ever been felt.

So this October I praise the work of the pink warriors. People like Stefanie Spielman who championed the causes while she valiantly fought the disease that would take her way too early. And her husband, Chris, OSU football legend and sports commentator, who continues this fight. To hear him speak is to hear a man with the deepest love for a woman. It is truly touching. He was the first person recognized as one of Stefanie’s Champions through the Stefanie Speilman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the Ohio State University Medical Center, which has raised more than $7 million since 1999. For more information, visit: http://cancer.osu.edu/waystogive/about/funds/spielman/Pages/index.aspx

Today I’ll take my mom this pink water bottle and some homemade apple pie. It’s my little effort to be her champion. And if her story on a blog post can make one woman stop and think about getting a mammogram, well then I’ll be honored to be a pink warrior too.

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