The Pink Divide
Last updated: July 2023
There’s no competition in breast cancer. How I wish that those words were true. One would think that after hearing those four earth-shattering words, "You have breast cancer," everyone would be on the same team, the winning team, that is.
However, in the world of pink, there’s a great divide. It shouldn’t be, but the unfortunate truth is that it is.
Welcome to the pink club
I remember going to see the breast cancer specialist for the first time. I was on one side of the door, and she was on the other side. She opened the door to greet me. There she stood about five feet, five inches, in heels, a stark grey pinstriped suit, and fiery red hair. She wore a half-smile that was two seconds away from being a smirk and eyebrows poorly tattooed on her pale skin.
She extended her hand, introduced herself, and said, “Welcome to the club.” I asked, “What club?” Without skipping a beat, she replied, “The pink club, the place where nothing else matters except that you honor and respect the pink.” She chuckled as she fumbled in her pocket in search of her missing keys. She asked me to stand at the door as she ran to the front office to see if she had left her keys there.
War between the survivors and the fatal
Moments later she returned with her keys and a bag of peanut M&M’s. As she threw about a dozen of them into her mouth, she nodded her head, extended the bag towards me and then my husband, we both declined the offer. She chuckled and said, you will find that chocolate will be your best friend on this journey.
Once inside, she went over the size of the tumor and the stages. She then began to say a lot of stuff that I can’t remember because I had tuned her out at this point. However, one thing she said still sticks with me to this very day. She said, “Be an advocate, but don’t get caught in the war between the survivors and the fatal.” I had no idea what she meant by that then, but boy do I have a clear understanding now.
Not survivors, not warriors, but thrivers
When traveling this unwanted journey to what I’d like to call Breast Cancer Island, everyone wants to be labeled a survivor or a warrior. But what about those of us that will never be able to say that we’re survivors? What about us? It’s easy to say that you’re a warrior when you’re just fighting to survive but what about those of us who are fighting and we don’t see a win in sight? Are we still warriors? I’d like to call us “thrivers,” because we do the best we can to make it another day and another and another.
The pink divide comes in when the media appears to be more focused on the survivors and not the thrivers. It’s as if it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind. What real support system do the thrivers, the metastatic breast cancer “warriors,” really have?
Ending the great pink divide
Why is it that when one says that they have stage IV breast cancer there’s a look of doom or confusion on the faces of those with whom you are speaking? However, if you say that you’re a survivor or a warrior the pink carpet is rolled out for you.
Since we all say that we want a cure, why is there such a great pink divide? Sink or swim, why can’t we all be in the same boat searching for a cure? Is that asking for too much? How can we begin to bridge the gap in the battle of the pink, or will there always be a pink divide between the living and the dying?
United we stand, divided we fall
Pink is pink regardless of the shade. Let us band together and find a cure for everyone who has to be defined by the color of their pink. Let’s eliminate division and join together in unity to end this travesty that is known as breast cancer. Let us join together so strongly until every 19 seconds someone isn’t diagnosed and every 13 minutes someone isn’t dying. Can we end the great pink divide for once and for all?
Advanced breast cancer is an isolating and lonely disease.