I wear pink for my grandmother. I wear pink for my aunts. I wear pink for the survivors. I wear pink for those we lost. I wear pink for those who continue to fight with every ounce of strength, courage and resilience.
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) disclosed that over the past 20 years, there has been a rise in the incidence of breast cancer within African American women. In addition, African American women have a 31% breast cancer mortality rate – the highest of any United States racial and ethnic group.
Although statistics may speak volumes, there’s no comparison to witnessing the turmoil, struggle and pain that comes with enduring breast cancer.
I was in middle school when I discovered our family matriarch was diagnosed with breast cancer. To paint a picture of my late grandmother, she was a hard worker, the epitome of authentic dedication and a God-fearing woman who knew no limits. Her gracious spirit flowed freely in her love of cooking, tending to her yard and spending time with her loved ones. I watched my grandmother slowly transition from what I knew her as into living everyday life with the assistance of a breathing machine and being introduced into a hospice.
Apparently, my grandmother lived with her breast cancer for years, without disclosing to our family the severity of her condition. Due to the lack of treatment, my grandmother’s cancer spread from her breast into her lungs. Medical authorities advised our family to make her as comfortable as possible for the remaining days of her life.
Even at that young age, I sensed the haunting nature of realizing one’s mortality. I knew life was not meant to go on forever and I knew what death was; however, I never endured such the feeling of actually losing a family titan. After months of fighting, my grandmother succumbed and received her wings on November 16, 2002.
I strive to commemorate the memories, the journeys and the lives of the women who have fearlessly looked breast cancer in the eye, rolled up their sleeves and did what they had to in order to preserve their quality of life. Their stories inspire us, but it’s the way these women choose to carry themselves, despite their diagnosis. My grandmother sang spiritual hymns, up until she couldn’t sing anymore. And, even in her last days, she persisted in motivating me to stand firm for our family. Her words still linger within my heart.
This is why I wear pink.