Pink Ink

This is my breast cancer awareness pin:

I bought that pin back in 2003, at Walmart. It’s a simple little pin, trimmed in silver, about the size of a quarter. I don’t wear it nearly as often as I should, but every year since 2003–the year my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer–I dig it out of my jewelry box. I pin it to my shirt, on my left shoulder, near to my heart, and I wear it every single day during the month of October.

To some, the pink ribbon has become obsolete. I’ve read articles and blogs about women who  refuse to wear the ribbon because they say it’s nothing but scare tactics, that the money spent on pink ribbon paraphernalia would be better spent elsewhere–like going to specific charities in the name of cancer research.

The truth is, I don’t disagree. I’d rather donate my money to a trusted charity than spend it at an online boutique selling nothing but breast cancer ribbons and bumper stickers and tee shirts. I don’t often know where that money is going. And so I keep it in my pocket instead.

But this little ribbon–pink and tiny and poignant–cost me less than $5. I didn’t buy it in order to make a political statement. I haven’t worn it every single October for the past 9 years in order to scare women into getting mammograms. I’ve worn it for a very simple reason.

Because it is a physical reminder to me that my mother is a survivor

And I’m so stinkin’ proud of her–her strength, her courage, her perseverance–that I want the whole world to know it.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, do you?

Yesterday, I took my little pin to an entirely different level. I wanted that physical reminder to also be a permanent reminder. And so, I got a tattoo, in exactly the same spot where I pin that little pink ribbon every year:

And I love it.

It may only be a symbol to you–one that represents a market, or a franchise, or even a foolhardy expense.

But to me, every time I look at my Pink Ink, I’ll be reminded of the battle Mom fought. I’ll think about how she put on a brave face for us when I know she was in pain. I’ll remember the hat she bought to wear to my college graduation, and how she gleefully ripped it off as soon as we got to the car, happy to be free from its presence. I’ll remember lying my head on my father’s shoulder as we sat, fidgeting, in the waiting room as Mom had her surgery. I’ll think about how hard Adam tried not to cry–a kid on the cusp of adulthood–and how brave he was despite the nervous adults surrounding him. I’ll remember calling Brian from the hospital with hourly updates, and how hearing his voice over the phone was like a balm to my fraying heart. I’ll remember the joy I felt each time we got good news–the surgery was a success, her treatments are working, she’s five years cancer free!!

And I’ll remember how it felt to see that little pin, gleaming on the counter surrounded by thirty more just like it, and knowing I had to have it. For Mom.

Thank you, Steve, for seeing my vision and giving me a very special gift. I’ll treasure it always. And thanks, Mom, for inspiring me, as always. I love you!

Readers–stay tuned for the more humorous side of this tale tomorrow. There may or may not be illustrations!!

6 thoughts on “Pink Ink

  1. WritingPassionsThoughts

    Abby this is beautiful. Sitting here in my office, apple in hand, I read the words that eloquently expressed your love and respect for your mom, and tears formed in my eyes.

    You see, in a way I can relate to this post. My dad passed away on Feb. 25th, 2010 after battling colon cancer for two years. So my family and I know what you and your family went through, and I am happy for you and yours that your mother won her battle. You keep wearing that pink ribbon with pride, for it is pride that is well deserved and respected.

  2. Michael Z

    You’re right about the ribbon being “abused” in the sense that anything and everything is manufactured in “breast cancer pink” during this month, and it’s hard to now where that money is truly going. But to me, that ribbon represents more. I’ve never been affected, nor has anyone I know personally, but I think it represent hope and strength for a lot of people. I see a sisterhood of women fighting together to end something that could end us. That’s something to be proud of. Congrats on your ink!! I love the color.

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