by Judy, a MyBCTeam ambassador
For me, breast cancer awareness month starts with the NEPA Race for the Cure. My oldest daughter, my grandchildren, and I have looked forward to this event for the past four years and hope to continue this tradition for many years to come.
Next, we attend the annual ceremony to turn the fountain pink at my state capitol building in support of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. This acts as an annual reminder to my state government about the importance of finding a cure. The state plays a big part in securing funding for breast cancer research and passing legislation that contributes to the cause. The coalition was founded by a woman, who is a force to be reckoned with as well as, you guessed it, a breast cancer survivor! Celebrating the coalition’s 20th anniversary this year, I am reminded that there is power in ONE. The coalition’s annual conference is a mixture of sharing and education.
My next adventure for awareness month included the honor of being the guest speaker at the First Annual Pink Light Walk in my neighboring community.
During all the activities and events each “Pinktober,” I am re-energized knowing this is my opportunity to share. Sharing my story, while emphasizing the importance of screening, is my way of giving back. With each passing year, I make new friends, but the highlight to these experiences is time spent revisiting with old friends. Breast cancer has, many times, taken me outside of my comfort zone. But looking into the crowd of the familiar faces as I speak at the First Annual Pink Light Walk, I find my refuge in those who share the passion of advocacy. Passion is something I have gained in spite of all the losses I have suffered because of breast cancer.
The old saying, “It takes a village,” can be applied to many things in life. Fortunately, we are not alone. Each year I purchase embroidered pink ribbon stickers to hand out to all my co-workers, who proudly sport them all month long. Every day this small token warms my heart as a reminder of their relentless support of me. They know they can ask me anything about my health, diagnosis or treatments, and share their own feelings and fears without hesitation. For this, I am both very humbled and proud. The passion to encourage and to be encouraged is what breast cancer awareness month means to me.
To top off this month of advocacy, a surprise interview by a local news station celebrity made our celebration extra special this year when my five excited grandchildren got their 15 seconds of fame! While this year marks my five-year anniversary of survivorship, I reflect on what I have accomplished and how much more I want to do. I will continue to make the most of breast cancer awareness by expressing hope, courage, and strength throughout the entire year. It also means it is my turn to rejoice in the news that my appointments will be less frequent. Life is truly a gift!
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