Aware of October


What could possibly draw me out of my blogging break?

I wish it was the Gopher’s recent sweep over reigning National Champs, the UMD Bulldogs (at Amsoil!). Or the fall weather that I’ve enjoyed running in. Or that hockey is back on Versus. Or the fact that I’ve baked and cooked quite a bit lately. Or my incredibly exciting upcoming trip.

September told me that my October was going to be insane. And I told October to bring it on.

I have always been a fan of October. For the reasons listed above, I have always looked forward to the month with its falling leaves, pumpkins, and hockey.

And this October was no exception.

The leaves peaked. They have fallen and danced around my Mizuno’s; crunching and crackling as I pound the pavement.

The pumpkins are bright and orange. They have been selected and designs have been drafted.

The NHL and college hockey seasons have begun. Games have been won by favorite teams with hopes of winning seasons.

A wonderful month. Just like always.

Except. This October is not all bonfires and apple cider. This October is not all orange, merry, and bright. Because this October I am seeing things – all the things I love about October – in a different light. Through a different lens.

A pink lens.

And I don’t even really like the color pink.

But on October 6, a day when I should have been thinking about NHL games, I was thinking about the color pink.

Shortly before noon on that sun-shiny Thursday, I was driving back to the office from an off-site meeting. I was drafting e-mails in my head, preparing for the busyness of the afternoon when my phone vibrated and flashed a familiar name on the caller ID.

I turned down the radio, a peppy-upbeat song piping positive thoughts into my car and and heard these words, “it’s breast cancer.”

Breast. Cancer.

Maybe you’ve heard those words on the other end of a cell phone. Maybe you’ve heard those words in a doctor’s office.

Maybe you’ve delivered those words in a cell phone conversation. Maybe you’ve delivered those words in a white coat in your office.

Maybe you thought you were prepared to hear those words; to deliver the message. But let’s be honest, no one’s truly prepared for those words.

In the moments and hours following that short phone conversation, hearing those words that I was not prepared for, I went about my day as normal as possible. I’m not sure if I was trying to be strong for her. Or if I was trying to process the words I’d just heard. Part of me thinks that I was in denial; yet there was no denying the results.

Since that day, all I can see is the color pink. It graces the lids of yogurt containers. There are pink notebooks, pens, mugs, shirts, and every other novelty item you can brand and logo with ribbons of awareness. Every celebrity and do-gooder is decked out in pink promoting its presence and prevelance. Even coffee shops blush with pink in the month of October – Caribou has breast cancer coffee. Dunn Bros. has breast cancer cups. Even the post office has breast cancer stamps.

Pink. It is anywhere and everywhere.

But unlike the hue that stands for everything breast cancer, things are not all perky pink for the women walking the road marked “breast cancer.”

In this month of fall leaves, pumpkins, and hockey, the thing I am most obsessed with is the color pink. Previous Octobers have come and gone and I have never acknowledged the color pink. But this October is different. This October I have to promote it.

Because maybe if i embrace the girly color, I can feel like I’m doing my part to help the women and families forever changed because of two simple words: breast cancer.

Including my own mom. Including my own family.

So, the answer to why I came back from my blogging break?

Not fall leaves. Not pumpkins. Not my big trip. Not hockey.

Just breast cancer.

My mom’s breast cancer.

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9 thoughts on “Aware of October

  1. Oh Megan – This gives me chills. As I have written about before, I learned of Dad’s cancer on October 5th and that day continues to be very hard for me. I think back to that first October 5th, the day on which we learned that he was sick, and it is a bit of a nightmarish blur. I remember feeling a swirl of fear and anger and deep inky sadness. I remember not being able to think straight or eat or envision the future. I imagine the tint of the world around me changing, just as you so eloquently describe here. It really is amazing, and utterly unfair, that life can be cracked into Before and After with the blink of a cell phone light.

    I know that there are no perfect words to utter, that these things are not one-size-fits-all in nature. I also know that there is a tremendous majesty in just writing about it. When my Dad was sick, I wrote a lot. I scribbled notes. I wrote chapters of a book that I might never return to. But it helped. Somehow, it did.

    I am so happy that I read this even though it is very sad. I am incredibly thankful that Sister C sent me the link to this post. I hope that your mother is hanging in there and feeling okay and that the rest of you are too.

    Sending my love from NYC,
    Aidan

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, Aidan. I wanted to post this earlier, but needed time to process everything. But now, I know that I’ll be here often – blogging about breasts.

      It’s amazing the instant bond that connects cancer patients – every single person I’ve talked to knows someone who has battled this monster. There’s some sort of odd comfort that comes from knowing someone else who has had the misfortune of walking this road.

      Before and After. That’s now how I will see my world.

      Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring.

      Megan

  2. Thanks Megan for taking time to reflect. I didn’t know about your blog but Priscilla forwarded this entry to me. We’re all, as a family, praying with you and pulling for Sandy. The helplessness one feels in the face of this monster is eclipsed only by the deeper awareness of the wisdom and power of God. We rage, and it is right to do so against the one who seeks to steal and to kill and to destroy. But in the midst of the battle, I can only look to Him who knows, because I really know nothing. Keep blogging! You are one sweet, loving daughter and niece!
    Your Uncle John

  3. Megan: Uncle Lanny still in Hawaii and Auntie Joni in Los Angeles quilting with a friend…our prayers and thoughts are with all of the family. Thank you for sharing your grief and your thoughts….it helps us all to be able to share the burdens with those we love. This is just one more reminder that we must not take life for granted…our days, our time are gifts, and there are no guarantees to any except for one…they will some day come to an end on this earth as we know it. But we who know the Lord have His promise of life eternal with Him in Paradise when that day surely comes. You are 20 something and looking forward to many years and many new things happening….just as I was about 45 years ago. Our lives pass by so quickly. In just a few more days Joni and I will be in Fresno and we will be going to my 50th high school reunion, class of 61. Seems like yesterday in my mind. I went to my 25 year reunion in 1986 with my first wife, Allison. We went back to CA in August of 1987 for her 25th reunion. The day after that took place her mom, dad, herself and I were on the way to Fresno from Porterville when that trumpet sounded. We were broadsided by a car running a stop sign; I was the only one who (barely) survived. Five months earlier I lost my mother to cancer, and then BANG…life changed so much. Thankfully, my faith in the Lord’s plan for my life and those I lost kept me going. It was through this tragedy that I eventually married into the Austin side of the family I now thankfully call mine…another part of His plan unfolding in my life. Just recently we have Christian Schwab, Joni’s son, having a seriously life-threatening ordeal with ruptured appendix and abdominal infections even as I write this. We know the power of prayer and faith are at work in this situation, too. We go where we are led; everyone has trials to endure along the way, but we are not walking alone. So, as Paul reminds us, be thankful in everything, never ceasing to share our joys and our sorrows with Jesus. And continue to savor October with its many colors, including pink. Love, Uncle Lanny and Aunti Joni.

  4. We’ve learned through our own trials that God gives us the strength to get through the unimaginable with “no smell of fire” on us (Dan.3). I’m praying that for your Mom and the rest of you – that you will be able to rest in Him and take one moment at a time. We love you all, and are praying for healing. Love, cousin Kristi and family

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