October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is all around – in newspapers, on storefronts, even on NFL players. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among American women, with 40,000 women in the U.S. dying each year and more than 200,000 being newly diagnosed. Add to these the women and men who are breast cancer survivors and you have millions living with the disease.
With so many living with and dying from breast cancer, I’d imagine that there are few families that haven’t been affected by the disease. I know I’m thinking pink this month. My great-aunt is facing a recurrence of her breast cancer, the same disease that killed her younger sister many years ago. Meanwhile, a dear family friend is fighting off a recurrence, just the latest battle in her decades-long war against the disease.
Maybe it’s me, but I can’t think only in pink. This month, loved ones with breast cancer loom large in my thoughts, but so do others lost to or battling different cancers. Three out of four of my great-grandmothers died from cancer, two long before I was born, one leaving 11 young children behind. My husband’s grandmothers both died recently of lung cancer (neither smoked). I think of friends surviving and living with one form of cancer or another. I think of the many who have died, and the family members – especially the children – left to mourn.
In October, I think pink, and I also think gray and black, green and teal, purple and orange and blue. My 3-year-old daughter can “sing a rainbow,” as the song goes. And when it comes to supporting and remembering loved ones with cancer, I can sing a rainbow too.
Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons/rhoftonphoto