It's that time of year again, when everything turns pink.
It seems that every year there are more products—people wear pink hair extensions and pink bracelets; write in pink binders; eat eggs stamped with pink ribbons; wash their dishes with pink-ribboned sponges; and watch football players donning pink.
The purpose is to raise awareness, and sometimes funds, for a disease that will cause one in eight women to hear the words, "You have cancer."
Last year, when October came around, I actually felt a little queasy walking into stores and became overwhelmed by the pinkness. Whereas my recent participation in the Susan Komen Race for a Cure—and seeing the seemingly endless rows of people was inspiring—the rows of pink products in the stores made me nauseated.
The marketing of a disease. And aren't people already aware?
But, as this year rolled around—and as I am getting close to reaching my third year of surviving breast cancer—I realized that all of this October hoopla encouraged me to take the step that led to the early detection of my cancer.
I am pretty much a "by the rules" person, and proactive. I knew that mammograms were recommended beginning at age 40. I asked my gynecologist about getting a baseline mammogram, and had one when I was 39. At my next visit I got a prescription for my first routine mammogram that I planned to have at 40.
Then I turned 41, it was at the bottom of my "to-do" list. I think all mothers can relate to this. I had no qualms about getting the mammogram...I just simply forgot.
But "awareness" slowly crept in.
One of my daughters donated hair to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program in the spring, which provides wigs to cancer patients, and I signed up for my first breast cancer walk—the October American Cancer Society's Making Strides Walk in Manhattanville College—to walk in memory of a friend's mother.
October was turning pink, and it reminded me that I hadn't gotten that mammogram.
I dug up the prescription. It had expired. I made a doctor's appointment, got a new prescription, and my November mammogram, two months before my 42nd birthday, was the beginning of a life-changing journey that I will share with you in upcoming posts.
Helene is a 44-year-old breast cancer survivor, mother of three, and resident of White Plains. She works as a freelance editor of legal study guides.