Pink. Such a feminine, gentle, caring colour – the exact opposite of breast cancer; invasive, aggressive, indiscriminate. The pink ribbon became a symbol for breast cancer in 1992 for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the US. It represents fear of breast cancer, yet hope for the future.
Every year, charities, businesses and organisations use pink to associate themselves with the promotion of breast cancer awareness and fund-raising for various charities. Wearing of the ribbon evokes solidarity for those affected by breast cancer, either personally or through family and friends.
Breast Cancer Campaign (editors note: now the charity Breast Cancer Now, formed by the merger of Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer in Spring 2015) created wear it pink to include everyone in breast cancer awareness – not just those sufferers you typically hear about.
My life with cancer and cooking
I always knew that cancer would play a part in my life. Originally, I went to medical school to become an oncologist but found this wasn’t for me, I’m just too soft. I had more time on my hands when I switched to a BSc in Cell Biology. By day I specialised in studying cancer and by night, I experimented in the kitchen by cooking for my friends and family.
At the same time, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer which left me with a sinking feeling. Nursing my mother through her breast cancer made me realise that neither medicine nor research were careers for me. I nurtured my mum through my love of healthy eating. I encouraged her to eat a diet high in immune-system-building foods to help her beat cancer.
Today, some 15 years later, she's still my amazing mum – playing golf several times a week, socialising and working passionately in the health and medical field as always. And the best bit is she’s cancer free.
Why would a 29 year old have breast cancer?
A few years later that feeling I had came back to haunt me – I was 29, super fit, training for my first half-triathlon and one morning I found a lump in my right breast. No one took my concerns seriously and I had to push for two months to be diagnosed. Why would a 29 year old have breast cancer?
On my best friend's 30th birthday, after a long lunch, I was finally diagnosed.
What followed was a whirlwind of tests and hospital visits and before I knew it, I was in hospital having a lumpectomy. I was really strong, but when I found that I had to have a mastectomy, I fell apart.
My doctors told me that my cancer recovery was down to early detection, a positive attitude and my diet and exercise regime. Even in the worst moments of my year-long battle with cancer, I would beg my family and friends to take me to the gym so I could do something, anything to feel like I was in control of my body, not this nasty, indiscriminate disease that had rudely interrupted my twenties.
I looked to nutrition and fitness to give me the strength to help me feel in control and that I was actually doing something to make a difference. As soon as I had the strength, I wanted to help other women battling breast cancer and contacted the charity.
As a scientist, I was drawn to the caring yet scientific approach of the campaign and their focus on funding the latest research. Some of their research projects have given women who previously had limited treatment options a new lease of life.
Wouldn’t you wish that every one battling breast cancer had every option of treatment to combat this disease?
My hopes for the future
1 in 8 women is diagnosed with breast cancer and this awful statistics is set to rise. This means that every single one of you will be touched in one way or another. A friend, a sister, a mother a daughter or maybe even you.
What would you wish for if you were diagnosed with breast cancer? A cure, presumably. Breast Cancer Now and wear it pink can fund that cure.
For me, it’s a no brainer. I will continue to wear pink wherever possible right from my little knickers down to my wardrobe of pink dresses. Lucky for me, I look great in pink!
- Be breast aware and find out more about the signs and symptoms of breast cancer
- Find out more information about The Urban Kitchen