The last day of October. With the arrival of Halloween comes the end of Socktoberfest and Breast Cancer Awareness month. Has anyone else been surprised at how pink has come to rival black and orange as the color of the month? Seemingly at every turn...at my bank, on my salsa jar, wine, sewing tools, everywhere! It's been ubiquitous. What a fabulous job has been done to promote public awareness and research on this disease which has touched so many. Have you all had your mammograms this year? Great. Now I'm going to nag you about something else.
Twenty years ago this month, I was diagnosed with 4th stage Hodgkin's Disease...end stage lymph cancer. I was 33 and your average young mom...a room mother, Cub Scout assistant, busy,busy,busy carpooling, sewing Halloween costumes, teaching quilt classes. In late summer, I had noticed that when I took my sneakers off at the end of the day, the soles of my feet would feel itchy. When I tried to relieve it by rubbing or scratching, the sensation would continue up my legs. No rash, just an insatiable itch. This seemingly innocuous annoyance was the first warning.
By the time I saw a dermatologist in October, I was feeling a little tired. What young mother doesn't feel tired at the end of a day? Within a week of my appointment, I had started what would be a year of chemotherapy. Very successful chemotherapy, fortunately. I benefited from then-recent medical advances and although I noticed a number of Hodgkin's deaths in the obits that year (you tend to do that when faced with dire possibilities, read the obits, hoping not to find any unfortunate victims of similar situation), my year of treatment was mostly forward-looking and positive.
I must admit that the Pink Campaign has always made me a little bit uneasy, because I fear that many women get their mammogram results and feel they're safe for another year. And when some little, naggy, out-of-the-ordinary *thing* appears, it's easy to put aside. Ignore. I'm busy, of course I'm tired. It's just itchy feet. Whatever.
Visiting Molly, 2005
So here's my
suggestion heartfelt plea. When you see those pink ribbons, let them be a reminder to be attentive to your whole health situation. No ache, pain, mark or itch should be ignored if it persists for several months. I thank God for these last twenty years and shudder to think how close I came to missing them.