Here’s a great perk: Sometimes people actually congratulate me for working at Komen!
Pretty often, however, I get what is obviously a deeper, more serious reaction. It can happen anywhere, anytime. Last week I was sitting at my hair salon and got into a conversation with a woman next to me. (You tend to have your inhibitions down when you are waiting for the color to soak in…) She asked what I do and then was pretty quiet after I told her
I recognize this now and have come to appreciate that righfully, everyone has their own way of dealing with cancer — even well after the fact. Still, I have found that breast cancer Survivors tend to fall into 2 groups, both extremely inspiring and motivating, and both very much supporters of our cause.
Some can be described as fierce warriors in the fight against breast cancer, and this group wears that battle on their sleeves. These wonderful people know that their story can change lives – that telling it will possibly educate or remind people about preventative measures, or that raising money will have a deep impact in our community.
One of our active volunteers has worn some sort of pink clothing every single day for the last 17 years – since she was diagnosed. That’s a determined fighter right there! She obviously has a story and if asked, she’ll tell.
In the other group are people similar to my hair salon friend. At first, they seem to soak in the idea of what I do for a living and want to look away. I get it. There is a feeling of “that awful part of my life is behind me and I don’t want to revisit it.” Boy, do I appreciate that sentiment. They fought hard not to let cancer define them when they were sick, and they darn well won’t let it now.
Yet, 3 minutes after she asked me, I knew her story. She was diagnosed before age 40. She fought invitations to join the Race for the Cure or other breast cancer events because she didn’t want to be “that person.” She didn’t want to wear pink and she didn’t want to be labeled. But then her friends talked her into it.
As she spoke of the Race experience and how wonderful it was, she broke down a bit. “I guess I did it to show my kids that I could,” she said through tears. “And I’m glad I did.”
All types of Survivors and their co-Survivors join us in our mission to end breast cancer – some vocally, some in other ways. We are very grateful for them all.