I noted the other day that someone in my office wore a pink ribbon to work, and I commented on it to her. We chatted briefly about breast cancer awareness and about people we've known or know who've had to deal with the dreaded disease.
My opinion on the subject is difficult to express, not because I don't think it important, or because I don't think it could happen to me - my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in her twenties and I'm quite alert to the fact that cancer does not discriminate, that it doesn't strike only the "older woman" or only rich women or poor women or sick women or healthy ones...
But I have never worn a pink ribbon. Once again, not because I don't care or don't think that women all over the world should be encouraged to be self-aware. I don't have anything against pink ribbons, really. Or maybe I do. Maybe I think that - and call me cold, callous, ignorant or whatever - but maybe I think that, having enjoyed the kind of publicity that breast cancer has for the last decade or so (how long ago did they start the pink ribbon thing anyway?), it's about time that women (and men) accross the planet start taking their share of responsibility for their own health and wellbeing all the time, not just for one month out of every year. Maybe, along with my inherent rebellious streak against pretty much anything that turns what is essentially a part of human existence (love - Valentine's Day, October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and all the others I'm too tired to remember or too lazy to type out right now) into something we only notice once a year, I'm one of those insensitive arseholes who thinks things like "And what happen's when October is over and everyone's packed up their pink ribbons in a pretty little box to be stashed away in your underwear drawer for next October?" Does anyone (apart from those unfortunate people who actually have to battle cancer) think about it for the rest of the year? Do women keep up with their monthly breast self-examinations? Do they make appointments for their annual mammograms during other months? If they do, then does the pink ribbon worn only in October signify anything more than the individual wearer's desire to make a "look-at-me" statement? And if they don't, then has it occurred to any of those ribbon wielding women (as if that little piece of pink satin is going to somehow, miraculously, protect the wearer) that that telltale lump/lesion/discharge could develop in any one of the other eleven months of the year?
Maybe this is just me being tired and full of shit and lashing out at the first thing that comes to mind. Maybe the fact that the first thing I'm thinking about at 23:30ish after a full day's work and a few hours' study for the looming exams is an indication that the pink ribbons do, in fact, serve a purpose - after all, here I am, typing up a badly written post on the subject of ribbons and cancer... Maybe my frustration is as much a product of fear as it is of worrying about money, stressing about the exams, trying not to be the very worst mother in the world or any of the other facts of my life.
Maybe it's just that it's so damned depressing to think about what breast cancer victims have to go through, the threat of such immense loss staring them and their loved ones in the face every day, the fact that many of them are not going to win the battle, even if every single one of the six billion odd people on the planet wore pink ribbons every day...
In the end, with or without the ribbon, I'd like to say to every man, woman and child whose life has been affected in any way by breast cancer, or by any other form of cancer, or by any other illness or by any form of injustice, tragedy or pain: I wish you health and happiness.
But I still ain't wearing no ribbon.