By Jennie Rook

Pink. It is such a docile color. It is the color of softness. It is the color of a baby’s round cheeks, so sweet. Pink holds tight a little girl’s pigtails; it adorns her summer dresses. It echoes in the sounds of a newborn’s cry. Pink is the color of innocence. And this month, it is everywhere. “Pinktober:” The color of the October bandwagon. Goodhearted socks, emblems, pompoms, logos and other assorted accoutrements dance in every venue, giddy with goodwill and mammary glee. Pink, at every venue, from sporting events to supermarkets; every retailer, every product, each tied together by that unmistakable pink ribbon – all well-intentioned campaigns in the name of breast cancer. The commercial world has such laudable goals–to raise awareness of this disease that affects so many people on so many levels.

Let me tell you what pink looks like in my world. I never thought pink was my color – until a few years ago.

Pink isn’t just October for me. January 19 is pink on my calendar. That was the day I began to speak in a pink vocabulary; biopsy, malignancy, surgery. It’s the color of the tissue I lost after my mastectomy on March 10. March is pink for me too. It was a pink tumor removed from the pink of my chest wall that day. And then April, May, June and July–four months riddled with pink days of chemotherapy. Pink was the color of my dad’s t-shirt every Wednesday when he picked me up for my appointments. Pink quilts, a pink recliner, pink word art hanging on the walls of the office provides inspiration while the poison-filled IV tubes snaked up and around and into my veins to kill and crush the disease. It was an onslaught, a full-out pink massacre of cancer cells. Pink is the nurse’s bright smile, the tears in her eyes on chemo graduation day. August and September bring pink skin after thirty-three rounds of radiation and five extra blasters. Pink is my scar: The one that runs across my chest. The one I see every single day. Pink stares back at me in the mirror. A pink reminder of how my life has been forever changed. Pink is my son’s honest question – If they don’t know how you got it, how do they know it won’t come back? Pink is raw. Pink is doubt. Pink is fear. I dream pink nightmares. I’m haunted by pink demons.

Pink is fight. Fight like a girl? Hell yes! I fought hard on the pink battlefield and I won. – so far. Pink-polished fingernails crossed I hold onto that victory and remain undefeated. Pink is fire. It is courage. It is glory. Pink ribbons pinned to lapels. Pink shoelaces make strides across the nation to raise money and support. It is the color of my heartbeat, the color of the love for my family. Pink is resiliency.

And it’s now October. Pink is everywhere. I try so painstakingly to swallow the pink bitterness that rises in the back of my throat when I see the perky cleavage of an NFL cheerleader so perfectly framed in pink. I am, after all, alive, albeit pinkly mangled and scarred. Pink is a color I wear year-long. Pink reminds me the battle never ends. Pink is the color of a sisterhood of millions of women who don’t know each other’s names but recognize each other’s stories all too well. It is comfort. Pink is survival. It’s the doctor’s voice as he pronounces the word remission. Pink is life. It’s the promise of a cure. Pink is hope.

About this writer

  • Jennie RookJennie Rook is a 42 year old mom, wife, daughter, middle school English teacher and breast cancer survivor. With two boys at home, and a full time job, she didn’t really have time to get sick. But then again, cancer doesn’t discriminate. Her diagnosis was sudden and completely unexpected, and through her experience she learned very personally that the old adage is true, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” She kept a journal during her treatments and surgeries, and afterwards she published a book titled Keeping A Breast and Loving What’s Left. Going on five and a half years of remission, Jennie still holds her breath with every doctor’s visit.

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One Response to “Pink”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Great essay, and the ending has such punch.

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