When I was diagnosed with breast cancer twenty years ago, I had to ask one of my nurses what the pink ribbon she was wearing stood for. I had no clue! I didn’t know anyone else with breast cancer. In the early days of my journey I had no one I could turn to who had “been there, done that!” I knew in my heart that if I should survive this I wanted to be a presence for others newly diagnosed. Many years later I have made cancer awareness my mission as well as my business.
Ribbons Help Raise Money for Cancer Research
Do cancer ribbons really matter? Yes, absolutely, in more ways than you can imagine! If that product was bought from a reputable source that gives money back to research, you’ve donated and you’re already helping others. By wearing that ribbon, you are showing support for yourself, a loved one or a friend. To this day when I see someone close to me sporting a pink ribbon in my honor it means so much.
Cancer Ribbons Open the Door for Communication
Countless times I’ve stopped to chat with others, offering support, or just comradery. The other day there was a young woman in the checkout line behind me at the grocery story. She had a head wrap covering her bald head and two pink ribbon awareness wristbands on her wrist. She looked tired and sad. I recognized that combo right away. I smiled and said “thank you for wearing pink wristbands, I’m a twenty-year breast cancer survivor.” She looked a little skeptical but I said, “no really, it’s been twenty years!” We ended up walking out to the parking lot together and I shared my story with her. Yes, I had gone through high doses of chemotherapy. No, it wasn’t a walk in the park. But yes, I had survived it and she would too! Her demeanor seemed to change. I can’t say our little chat took away all her worries but I do believe I gave her hope and something to hang on to. Without her wearing those wristbands I never would have said a thing!
Cancer Ribbons Facilitate Knowledge Sharing
By the same token, I’ve also had people approach me while I was wearing one of my cancer awareness T-shirts. “Cancer Sucks” usually brings a chuckle or thumbs up from people. Some have stopped to share their story with me and I love it! It’s always nice to talk to someone you have something in common with. When wearing my pink ribbon cap one day, I had a woman tell me she was so glad she’d reached the age of 60 and didn’t have to have mammograms anymore (she’d read it in a magazine!) WHAT? I suggested maybe she should discuss that one with her doctor, especially after learning she had a family history of breast cancer.
I’ve talked to family members who were so scared for their loved ones, and friends that didn’t know what to say or how to help. When asked, I’m always happy to share my own experience and what helped me.
Ribbons Are a Symbol of Friendship and Support
Oftentimes when a co-worker is diagnosed with cancer everyone feels so helpless. What to do, what to say? Banding together and showing support really does help. I know, I’ve been there! I’ve also talked to countless people who have been there. Wearing a ribbon is a simple gesture that means so much to the one diagnosed, and to the others knowing they are in some small way helping.
Sharing ribbon colors can also be very helpful. Everyone now knows what a pink ribbon stands for but there are many other acknowledged colors. I’ve often told people what their cancer ribbon color is. They had no clue there was one for them. Everyone thinks it’s all pink, but that’s not true. I often wear a lime ribbon for a family member who was treated for lymphoma. Numerous times I’ve been asked what it stands for.
Do ribbons really matter? Large amounts of funding have been made possible because of them. Lines of communication have been opened because of them. Knowledge has been shared because of them. Friendships have been made, and research efforts have been forced to step up because of them. That tiny little lapel pin or wristband may not seem like a lot, but it matters very much!