A male breast cancer survivor discovers the power of pink.
October is making her annual emergence upon a world in need of hope and healing.
I imagine October to be a resplendent and majestic woman, dancing on the winds of autumn, encircling all beings on Earth and offering promise and possibilities to those who carry a life-threatening disease. But October is no fairy tale to be taken lightly, for this is the month we champion breast cancer awareness. October you see is a month of collaboration and partnership, reminding every woman that breast cancer is a formidable adversary that can only be disarmed through a fearless alliance; through vigilance and education and of course, knowledge and understanding.
So what about men? We get breast cancer too.
I was once asked if I was troubled by the cloak of pink that surrounds the breast cancer experience.
My answer was an emphatic “no”. After all, it’s no fault of women that male breast cancer goes relatively unnoticed because it is an orphan disease accounting for just 1% of all breast cancer cases. And it’s no one’s fault that men are reluctant to talk about their breast cancer, slow to get diagnosed and more likely to die from it because of our belated behaviors and awkward attitudes toward our breasts.
I think it would be a grave mistake for men to allow themselves to feel isolated this month, simply because pink may not be our color of choice. It’s not that we haven’t been invited. Minorities I believe are never overlooked because they are small. They’re excluded only if they remain silent.
So as men we need to raise our voices, not to complain of an over-abundance of pinkness, but to shout out in celebration with the millions of women who make up the 99% of breast cancer survivors.
My hope is that our 1% can prosper and grow in unison with a coalition of women survivors who have set the stage and manned the front lines to eradicate this most dreadful disease.
As a man with breast cancer I believe that, like the women of the world, guys need to join hands, puff up our chests (what’s left of them at any rate) and stand together in October to bring encouragement and comradery to our breast cancer brothers. And sisters.
Pink is not a belief or a method. It’s not a condition. It’s a symbolic emblem of a powerful feminine coalition. And male breast cancer survivors don’t need a pink pass to join in with this celebration of life and longevity which after all is the ultimate goal of cancer survivors around the world, both men and women.
October is a time of joyful expression. It’s a time to support and care for those millions who share our disease world-wide. Faces and lives we will never see, but whose stories we know intimately because they are our own. I am. I am me. I am we. We are one.