Although it was many years ago, this memory is crystal clear to me - I was 9-years old. My family and I were decorating the Christmas tree. Our dog Dandy was super excited about the tree, the family, and the festivities. Although she was not allowed in the living room, she could not contain her excitement and she ran into the room. She was circling us, jumping up and down on the furniture, and then ran into the tree on her escape route down the hallway to avoid getting in trouble. My mom reached up to catch the tree and then screamed as I’ve never heard her before. My 9-year-old brain thought she was mad at Dandy. I had a whole save Dandy speech in my head, "mom, she didn’t know any better and we got everything cleaned up, we'll keep her out of the living room, etc...." However, my mom’s scream was not about Dandy. When she raised her arms, she felt an excruciating pain in the left side of her chest. Later, a doctor’s appointment confirmed she had advanced breast cancer and would need a mastectomy.
It’s hard to imagine now – but there was no pink power, no pink ribbons, no encouragement to get screening or talk about breast cancer. It was very hush-hush and almost treated as shameful. Fortunately, my Mom was a strong woman and did not let what could have been social norms cause her shame or embarrassment. Unfortunately, the diagnosis was late and the cancer was already in her lymphatic system and soon her bones. My mom died six years later.
My mom’s cancer journey was certainly a spark for my fitness passion. The ability to take control of my health and motivate others in their fitness progress is key to my sense of being – how I can make a difference in my community.
The power of pink is real. We use it to bring awareness to breast cancer, encourage regular screenings, lift up those that are in the battle with breast cancer, and remember those that paved the path to bring breast cancer out of the shameful shadows into the empowered path of health and wellness we know today.
Yes, pink in general is one of my favorite colors, but every October I feel a great sense of purpose and pride seeing that color everywhere. I change my workout shoelaces to pink and hand them out to my class participants. I celebrate with “wear pink Wednesdays,” hoping the conversation continues to empower all to get the necessary screenings for the best prognosis possible - should they be the 1 in 8 to get breast cancer.
Please join me in keeping the conversations going, the progress and support strong and the power in pink shining bright…