Monday, June 27, 2005
A Deep, Philosphical Post that Begins with a Quote from The Brady Bunch*
*Because only I could talk about life lessons in a completely serious tone by quoting the least intellectual television sitcom in television history with the exception of perhaps Saved by the Bell.

And maybe we can make the world a whole lot brighter,
We can make the load a little lighter.
Everybody has to try together,
Don't you know it's now or never.
--Lyrics from the Brady Bunch song "We Can Make the World A Whole Lot Brighter"

It is hard to venture out into the retail world without seeing that all too familiar pink ribbon logo. Whether you shop at a department store such as Target or Nordstrom or window-shopping for kitchen accessories, some new kicks, or your favorite candy snack, the pink ribbon is everywhere. It has gone beyond the bounds of October, the breast cancer awareness month, and turned into a year round marketing campaign. In fact, all year long we can Race for the Cure, Fit for the Cure, Cook for the Cure, and just about any other activity-for-the-cure we can fit in our schedules. Products, events, and endorsements abound.

The activist in me is elated. The more visible it is and the more we talk about it, the greater the chance of early detection and thus better survival rates. The more visible in the market place, the more funds are being generated for research, screening, and treatment. This is all good, right? Well, the cynic in me wonders just how much is generated to benefit breast cancer related activities and how much is simply marketing. And should it even matter as long as money is generated for beneficial use?

The survivor in me, as much as I appreciate all the good will that is generated by that pink ribbon, is tired. I like shopping. I find it relaxing and therapeutic most times. The occasional girls' day out with my sister was something I missed during treatment. I needed to stay away from the people and the germs of public places in order to stay healthy during treatment. That first trip back to
Colorado Boulevard for a little shopping, people watching, and a casual lunch marked the beginning of a return to normalcy for me. I know, I admit I can be shallow. I try to balance my retail sins with philanthropic deeds and gifts. Really I do. However, now in the course of retail therapy, the pink ribbon has become a reminder of that which I strive in vain to forget. That pink ribbon and every pin, necklace, bracelet, sweater, sock, blender, shoe, candle, soap, bottle of lotion, tea bag, coffee drink, cookie, and bag of candy flaunting the pink ribbon taunt me as I pass by.

"Here I am!" the
M&M's sing in unison. Don’t they know a high fat diet promotes cancer risk?

"Look at me!" shout the running suits at
Coldwater Creek. I wonder about those dyes and synthetic fibers. How does that help me out?

"Over here!" shout the
pretty pink bracelets. Must I wear a badge that clearly spells out "breast cancer?" Don’t my lack of breasts and short hair already tell the story?

Mostly I want to yell back at all of them, "Leave me alone. Go bug someone who doesn't know you exist."

I keep waiting for that moment when my laughter isn't guarded. The times when good things happen and I don't immediately wonder when the other shoe will drop. The times when I can rest assured knowing that I have indeed done all I can do to be a survivor. I want my naïveté back. I want life to be simple again.

What troubles me most is knowing that life will never be the same and there is nothing I can do turn back the hands of time or change who I have become as a result of this experience.

Eventually I will let my guard down and the hearty, effusive laughter will return in healthy doses. But life will never be simple again. I can’t put my breast cancer in a box and tuck it away in the closet, nor can I hide from the pink ribbons that champion the cause, or ignore the scars that have become physical reminders on my body. I can, however, hold my head up with dignity knowing that this moment right here, right now, I am here, I am strong, I am making valuable contributions
to this world, and I am living hope to the next woman who faces this journey and hears my story.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
2 chimed in

Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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