I’m just not that into pink.

When zero doesn't mean the absence of something.

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I’m just not that into pink.  Blush is great, anything past that on the color saturation wheel is too much for my 55 year old skin.   

When I learned I had “Stage 0” breast cancer, I thought, does it even count as breast cancer?  I pictured myself showing up at a Breast Cancer walk wearing pink, people asking “What stage are you?” Answering, “0” and being told to get out.  I’m not worthy of their bubble gum, fuchsia and flamingo shades.  But Blush?  It’s just a whisper of red mixed with creamy gold.  I love a raspberry popped in my champagne flute. 

Zero is less than 1, but it’s not really nothing.

The number “0” is nothing, the absence of something.  But the pathway and treatment for this is still very much something.  I adore medical jargon – to the non-medical professional it’s like a puzzle, unlocking a code.  When discussing my treatment plan, I was told that while I’m early stage, this would be “Not without disruption to my life.”  Yep, buckle up, baby. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond thrilled that we caught this early.  A New Year’s commitment to being responsible with my health and routine Mammogram led me to a new OB/Gyn.  Nothing showed on my Mammogram but based on the reading and family history, a follow up MRI was suggested.  No, it’s not covered by insurance, but it’s the best $200 I’ve ever spent.  From MRI to biopsy, to a call confirming I have work ahead. 

Yet still, it felt surreal.  I broke out my frequent traveler card for the train of denial and hopped aboard.  Even sitting in the waiting area for at the Abramson Cancer Center, I felt like an imposter.  Then I had my consult. 

Big Words. Big Emotions.

So many words that bring big emotions.  Genetics testing.  Lumpectomy.  Radiation.  Medical oncology.   Mastectomy.   These were words that pertained to my Mother as I supported her in navigating her treatment.  My Mom wore her Breast Cancer diagnosis like a badge.  Her closet shifted from jewel tones to pinks, I literally had to talk her out getting her car painted pink, a decal would do.  But, remember, I’m stage 0 – I just have a little raspberry juice floating in me. 

In the coming week, it will start to sink in.  I have cancer.  There is something in my body that isn’t meant to be there.  I start wrapping my head around my treatment plan, which will not be days but weeks.  Having birthed, cherished and eventually lost a son, I’ve grown skills of compartmentalization and minimizing.  There are other things that demand my attention right now.  My family, my work, my community.  Can I teach a yoga class the week after surgery?  Volunteer at the polls for the May election?  My daughter is getting married in October.  Yep, this is the one I’ll land on.  My prognosis is excellent, again, I know how fortunate I am.  Countless mothers have not lived to see their baby girls marry, leaving brides with a shadow where Mommy should stand.  This breaks my heart.  And while science tells me I’m 98% not likely to walk this path, the empath in me mourns for others who have.   

You may have heard this before. And tuned out.

Early detection is key for Breast Cancer.  Did I really need to state that?  I think we’ve grown so accustomed to seeing pink that we don’t even see it anymore.  But we must, because it is definitely not a neutral.  So yes, do all the things.  Self-exam, get your mammogram, consider MRI if recommended.    

Because cancer doesn’t really care what colors you like.   

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