Grateful for Pink Support
There is no price you can put on the advocacy, education and funds raised for research that come along with the Pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness!
Ample numbers of businesses, sports teams, families, schools and stores all contribute by going PINK in their own unique ways for the cause, also known as PINKtober. Going PINK signifies support, providing hope, and honoring breast cancer patients, survivors, and families and remembering loved ones that have passed on from the disease.
October presents itself for this great outpouring of love, giving opportunities for men, women and children to come together to recognize all areas of bravery, encourage early detection and regular screening, education and more.
According to the U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics, 1 in 8 women (12%) will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
PINK is a great reminder of a strong support system from the masses and intimately from those close at home. It can be a symbol for empowerment and hope, hard work, freedom, a battle fought, or the celebratory ringing of the bell at the end of treatments. It is a platform for raising research funds and a symbol of survivorship.
“Just Yesterday” & “A Lifetime Ago”
In October 1998, at the University of Florida, groups of students were wearing pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and passing out flyers and ribbons and collecting donations. I’m embarrassed to admit my mind wandered to, “Wow, an entire month is dedicated to breast cancer! It doesn’t seem like many people ‘have’ it. Maybe I’m just lucky? I’m athletic and healthy and come from a healthy family. Cancer has no chance with us.”
Although two decades ago, I can recap these exact thoughts and the “pink” encounters verbatim still so vividly. It’s clear how naive and uneducated I was at the time – a college student who had not yet grasped the severity of the disease. I chose to take my waitressing tips and still give to their initiatives. Despite my naiveness, my heart tugged, and I felt it was the right thing to do.
Beyond Pink – The Thrivers
METAvivor (Advocate for Stage 4 Breast Cancer Research) states 6-10% of women diagnosed have Stage 4 (terminal) at onset. 30% of Stage 0, 1, 2, 3 patients will have the cancer reappear in the form of Stage 4 (terminal). The average lifespan is 24 months living with Stage 4 (Metastatic Breast Cancer).
A Stage 4 breast cancer individual is a Thriver. They will not celebrate PINK the same. They will smile with a thankful heart for the love and support, but PINK is also a reminder that they will be in treatment for the rest of their lives and not get to ring that celebration bell. Stage 4 (metastatic) breast cancer means the cancer has traveled outside of the breast to another major organ. There is no cure. The main goals of treatments with this stage of the disease is to suppress and control the spread of the cancer for as long as possible, giving the patient the highest quality of life possible.
Unfortunately, beyond the PINK, the reality is the biggest obstacle is lack of funding. Only an estimated 2-5% of the funds raised for breast cancer research are spent on studies of metastasis (Stage 4). Those living with Stage 4 breast cancer know that at some point they will run out of options. Technically, they are not really ever in remission as survivors are. But they are without a doubt fighting the battle and are considered thrivers. They continue wearing PINK to call out for help and are an intricate part of honoring the community they are a part of.
Two Decades Later
Unlike in college, knowing what I know now, nobody is immune to breast cancer invading their family. Sadly, several friends, friends of friends, and family have been impacted by breast cancer, including two of my aunts, my husband’s aunt, and my sister, Kristin. I am positive that mostly everyone knows someone who has breast cancer or has been diagnosed themselves.
Today, I have utmost gratitude for the endless PINK support the month of October brings along with an undeniable broken heart that my sister, at 36 years young, passed away, diagnosed at onset with Stage 4. She persevered to the endless degree and never considered her diagnosis a battle, but a journey.
They say it takes a village to raise a child; well, to Kristin, her village was her friends, family, her son and supporters, including all those wearing pink, showing they too were on her side to make a difference. She knew she would never wear the ribbon as a “Survivor” but always wanted to be remembered in PINK as a “Thriver.” Thriving with how she chose to live her life, knowing that time was of the essence and research needed to move, or she would run out of options.
One October, while living with the disease, we walked into the grocery store together. Upon entering, we were bombarded by dozens of pink balloons, ribbons, bears, and staff wearing pink. Kristin burst out into tears and walked out. In her own Kristin way, she apologized for her emotions and stated, “I’m sorry. It’s just a lot right now, and it’s my reality. I can’t go anywhere and not be reminded that the breast cancer I have won’t ever be in remission. It’s everywhere I go.” She proceeded, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m so thankful we have an entire month dedicated to my disease, but sometimes it knocks me over, and this must be one of those times. I want to be a survivor and celebrate with PINK one day.”
Kristin wanted so badly to see stage 4 breast cancer truly be managed like a chronic disease, prolonging her lifespan for many years. In her lifetime, it didn’t happen. She wanted her legacy to help make this happen for breast cancer Thrivers today, and hopefully with continued awareness and research, we will get there.
Thank you, Nona Soccer Academy, for turning orange into pink and for donating all pink shirt profits to METAvivor.
100% of donations to METAvivor goes toward research for Stage 4 breast cancer. You can learn more about METAvivor at metavivor.org.
You can watch Kristin’s journey and more about stage 4 breast cancer at Nona Soccer Academy’s youtube – NONA VIEW:
Let’s go PINK, Lake Nona, and celebrate the SURVIVORS and donate for the THRIVERS!
Teri D’Amelio has been a Lake Nona resident since 2006. She is the Marketing & Development Director for Nona Soccer Academy.