Pause the Pink; Try on Red

(c) 2017 Julie Clark

Several years back, there was an episode of Seinfeld called, “The Sponge,” where the infamous and eccentric Kramer enters a walk for a popular cause but refuses to wear a ribbon. Despite pledging his loyalty to this cause, uproar ensues and he is physically assaulted.

Just because he won’t wear a ribbon.

For a cause he truly believes in.

Fast forward and that ribbon has, in essence, been replaced by another that brought with it all sorts of clothing, charms, key chains and car stickers. This newer cause du jour also introduced a heavy marketing campaign like none other for any cause I’ve ever seen. One twelfth of the year has since become dedicated to this cause, with the final cure for all afflicted still nowhere in sight. In truth, it continues to maim (my sister, included) and kill (my aunt and best friend would attest, if they could.) Many of us see the color pink and if we’re being honest…shudder.

“Many of us see the color pink and if we’re being honest…shudder.”

Yes, shudder. A color we once loved is now despised. Dreaded. It conjures up awful memories of biopsies, scans and yearly imaging that is a short trip to hell for some (if we’re lucky, we won’t be called “back”), a long trip into hell for others. And although strides have been made, there is still much farther to go.

My point being, pink is a very real, very horrible thing. But I feel like Kramer as I won’t wear that ribbon. I feel like what I’m about to say will have folks on social media chasing after me, trying to convert me to slap one on.

Or just slap me.

Here’s a fact, during our days of curated social media and lite news feeds, you may not know: pink is not the number one cause of death among all women. Check this out: https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/data_statistics/fact_sheets/fs_women_heart.htm There is another that beats it in many cases, and pulls a close second in others. What is it? It’s heart disease. Yes, heart disease. A disease often flagged for men, overlooked for women.

Think about all that for a moment. If there are other things that kill at the same rate, if not higher, shouldn’t we shine the light on them and start waging battle against them with the same vigor? Can’t we share some cyber space?

“Can’t we share some cyber space?”

It’s February. There is one day set aside to wear red for heart health. It’s Friday, February 3. Not an entire month. I mean, Red isn’t looking to be homecoming queen or anything. It just wants a few moments of your attention. And Red isn’t gender-specific.

Let’s go back to that thinking differently thing again. As mentioned above, I know several women maimed or killed by the pink “c” (and others, whom I did not list, and, yes, I choose not to type the ultimate evil “c-word” out.) I have a scare each time I have my own scan, which results in extra tests that I, quite frankly, struggle to afford (despite having health insurance.) It is, indeed, awful. But…

But.

Heart disease also runs in my family, and is what took both of my grandmothers to the other side. It’s something my husband discovered he has while trim and fit back in his 30s. Related to that, he had a brain hemorrhage (hemorrhagic stroke) five years ago this month. It almost killed him. Pause for a moment and think of those around you, think of any who are affected by heart disease, in any form. This does include stroke, both ischemic (the most common one) and hemorrhagic (a true killer-in-an-instant.)

I’m not asking for an entire month. Honestly, taking one twelfth of the year for any specific health concern seems a bit piggish, especially as there are well over 12 diseases and concerns that harm us. Maybe it’s time we scaled back a bit, and let other things such as colon “c”, lung “c”, Parkinson’s, MS, and so many, many more things have their day with similar media and marketing coverage to give us warning signs, provide preventative solutions (if any), and opportunities to give financially to research that is working hard to fight them off.

It’s February. There’s only one day set aside to wear red to get the discussion going a little deeper. And, no, it’s not “sexy” or a fundraiser’s most lucrative project, but heart disease is a killer. A maimer, too.

“Heart disease is a killer. A maimer, too.”

I’m wearing red Friday. But, no, I will not be wearing a ribbon. I don’t know what will take me when it’s my time. It could very well be pink, but it could be red, blue, or even a turtle falling from the sky (ask Aeschylus.)

Finding cures isn’t about the next social fad, or wearing any ribbon (for any cause) to “fit in” with those around us. (Yes, I do understand many wear them as symbols of strength. I get that. I know many who do just that. But do understand others see them as grim reminders of a harsh reality, while others wear them because “everyone else is doing it.” Seriously. *facepalm*)

Let’s go back to clawing for cures, to highlighting a day here and there. That will give maximum, lasting impact and spread the love around. The last thing we want to do is have our “pet” cause become a fad. For when things become a fad, ultimately, the greater community will become tired of it. It will, eventually, fall out of sight. We can’t afford to have anything that threatens our lives do that.

~Julie