It's October — the pink month. I'll admit my favorite color has been pink since I was a kid. As an adult, I sort of got carried away with pink; at one point one of my girlfriends said my bedroom looked as though the Barbie doll aisle of a store had puked all over it. So yes, I love the color pink; but I call October the pink month for a much more important reason. Pinktober is the month designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast Cancer does not discriminate. While more females are diagnosed with it, it does affect males as well. Breast cancer does not care if you are thin, fat, short, tall, black, white, pink, brown or purple; it affects individuals of all nationalities, races, colors and creeds.
Breast cancer was a hush-hush thing when I was growing up. It wasn't until years after my maternal grandmother had passed away from a different form of cancer that I learned she survived a mastectomy many years before. That was alarming enough, but the summer of 2012 turned out to be one of the most difficult times of my life. In early July I had a near fatal car accident caused by a drunk driver. The day before the accident I had been to the surgeon to discuss removing a couple of lumps I had felt in my right breast. Three times prior to that I had had lumps removed, all of which had turned out to be benign papillomas. I assumed we were dealing with the same thing this time around too. One of the reasons I had that belief was because the lumps hurt; they were causing a burning sensation and pain. In fact, the idea that tumors associated with breast cancer do not cause pain is one of the biggest myths about the disease out there. Breast cancer does sometimes cause pain. After the accident my body was very much in a state of trauma. The surgeon and I assumed that these were again benign lumps and decided to wait eight weeks to allow my body some recovery time from the accident. When the surgery was performed, he discovered that these lumps were oddly shaped, yet he was still only minimally concerned. A week after the surgery as I sat across from him in his office, he told me how shocked he was that we both had assumed incorrectly. It was at that point that he told me I had stage 1 ductal carcinoma. I was incredibly lucky, because even though we had delayed the surgery eight weeks, we had still caught the breast cancer early. One of the main reasons for that was the fact that I diligently performed monthly breast self examinations. Two surgeries and several harsh chemical injections later, I can now say I have been cancer-free for two years.
That's why breast cancer awareness is so important to me. Though I wish all of Reisterstown was pink during October, there are several places honoring the spirit that this month is about. Here are just a few:
• Icedgems makes a special pink cupcake every October that is both cute and delicious.
• The bakery in Mars Supermarket offers special pink breast cancer awareness cupcakes.
• Santoni's does a number of pink cakes and cookies.
• Food Lion offers special breast cancer cups, mugs and other items.
Regardless of how you choose to commemorate this month of awareness, please be smart and remember that early detection is crucial to prevention.
Terry Chaney is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.