It is Oct. 2, and if you are holding an actual paper in your hand, you are reading from an edition that includes pink newsprint. If you are reading online — I don’t know what electronic magic you are subjected to if you are reading online — but today is pink paper day.
I like pink. Arnold Palmer wore a lot of it. Tamara, the custodian at Heritage High School where I closed out my teaching career, once painted my classroom pink — on purpose. Thirty-four years ago today I bought my first pink shirt.
That’s a story worth telling. My lovely wife, Lisa, had given birth to our first child. The doctor had read the sonogram and assured us we were having a healthy baby boy. We had a pretty blue nursery all fixed up for our new arrival with a toy train motif — as well as all manner of toys for baby boys.
The doctor had been wrong, and Lisa gave birth to a 10-pound, 3-ounce baby girl. 10-3 on 10/3. Lisa was afraid that I was disappointed. Hardly! I drove to Rich’s at South Lake Mall and bought a half-dozen pink shirts of varying descriptions and wore pink for the first month of my first child, Jamie Leigh’s, life.
Happy Birthday, Jamie. Your daddy loves you.
But the paper is not pink today for Jamie Leigh. Well, it sort of is, but that’s a different story.
The paper is pink today because it is our first edition since October rolled around and October has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is fitting and proper that we should do this— because after years and years of Three-Day marches and television ad campaigns and wearing pink ribbons and pink shoelaces and pink tennis shoes and donating money and begging for funding and millions of hours of research, breast cancer still attacks one of every eight U.S. women over the course of her lifetime.
Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, wives, aunts, friends — and even daughters. Breast cancer has no respect for anyone, and we all have been touched by the dreaded disease. All of us, some more than others. One of eight women; 268,600 cases of invasive breast cancer this year alone, plus 63,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
There is good news. Because of the pink newsprint and shoelaces and ribbons — and the attention such gimmicks have attracted, which has translated into monetary donations and research, research, research — the incidence of breast cancer started dropping in this country in the year 2000, but we have a long way to go. Almost 42,000 women will succumb to the dastardly disease this year. That’s 42,000 too many.
And the only real risk factors are being female and getting older, although the disease does affect some men — and young women.
So as long as these statistics are so alarming, and as long as there is a chance that any woman will contract breast cancer, I will be promoting the “Wear it pink” programs and donating as much money as I can afford to programs that pay for research for the disease and offer comfort, encouragement and support for its victims.
Believe it or not, there are people in the media and elsewhere who have disdain for the pink campaign. They say it has become counter-productive and allows (horrors) industry to make a profit by selling ink merchandise. Those people can do and wear what they please. I will continue to be pink and show women that I am a part of the Breast Cancer Awareness team in every way I can.
It is personal to me and has been for a long time. My lovely wife Lisa, thankfully, has not contracted breast cancer, but she has had multiple scares. A long time ago she started walking in those three-day marches and, while I didn’t march, I walked thousands of miles helping her train and helped her raise thousands and thousands of dollars for research and was her biggest cheerleader. After she stopped doing the marches, we kept supporting the cause and encouraging, begging and pleading with others to do the same.
Awareness is key to eradicating any problem.
And today, as my daughter, Jamie Leigh, celebrates her 34th birthday, it will be her second birthday free of breast cancer, a fact that we are all so very thankful for — to God and to the people who gave research dollars so the medical profession would best know how to battle the cancer in her body.
So, I will be the good-looking guy in the pink shirt — all month, and year round.
It’s October. Think pink. Let’s find a cure.