I can look to my right and left and count on both hands, relatives and close friends that have battled breast cancer. I run in races in honor of the memory of my husband’s mother, a woman I only know through his memories, I donate every day at the local grocery store for the month of October in honor of my friends that have battled breast cancer and won and my Aunt who lost.
Most recently on October 29th, I stood in the stands with parents and students at my son’s local high school football game, that night we all wore pink. Our school had implemented its first ever “Pink Out,” to honor those we know who have battled the disease and those we don’t. The varsity football game that night was against an arch rival, an inter conference game. My son and his teammates had an air of intensity all week, preparing for what would be one of the most physically and mentally challenging games of their season. As our team took to the field under the hypnotic Friday night lights, what was most striking was not the obvious excitement and hype of our players but the pink they wore. From athletic tape, to helmet stickers, to football gloves and right down to their shoelaces, every teammate, every son, wore pink. It was one of the greatest moments I could remember as a parent.
The next day became one of my proudest. I was talking on the phone to my closest friend, whose son is a friend and teammate of my sons. I learned from her that both our boys had written her initials on their faces before the football game. My friend is a breast cancer survivor. I was speechless and thought about the dozens of things they could have written in light of this highly competitive game. But in the end they put a friend, a mom, someone else ahead of themselves. Her son, experienced the uncertainty of a mother battling breast cancer, my son experienced my own non cancerous but life threatening illness. Two friends, bound by something bigger than both of them, but that night they rose above it all.
Breast cancer awareness month culminated in a sharp and insightful way for me on the next evening, October 30, 2010. We attended an important Hospital Gala to support and honor that same friend. As I listened to her welcome speech, followed by moving speeches from survivors, I felt so lucky to be part not only of her life but those around me. Sitting at my table, I looked to my right and to my left, seeing in each of our faces the pain and sorrow we each have endured. We all our bound by life’s uncertainties but like the high school that brings awareness to the core of its community by implementing a school wide Pink Out, to the two friends on the football field that night, together, we will rise above it all.