Have you been caught wearing a pink ribbon recently?

As soon as the colour pink is mentioned there is a kind of reticence, a sensitivity, even a degree of embarrassment.  It is hardly because you have become the proud parent of a baby girl that someone will be wearing a pink ribbon.  Pink is associated with homosexuality and alternative sexual orientation which is increasingly recognised as a reality in our society. In fact, pink is associated with sexual matters, more so than blue probably. A pink ribbon worn during the month of October is an indication of breast cancer awareness month, something highly necessary in this day and age, as it is the most common form of cancer for women, more so from age 40 onwards, but not exclusively so.

A wealth of information is available from state and other health institutions and specialist organisations such as  CANSA on their website www.cansa.org.za/womens-health/. Breast selfexaminations should be performed and regular medical testing can alert one to the presence of a lump, a change in shape or feel of the breast.  But not all breast cancers are first discovered as a lump. Lobular breast cancer involving the milk ducts can be more deepseated.

Sex and sexuality no longer carry the mystique of former times. Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the 1990s and the promotion of condoms and safe sex, and in the days of gender-based violence and teenage pregnancy the whole topic is out there in the open constantly.  Yet it is a little ironic that breast and cervical cancer in women and prostrate cancer in men too are often still relatively taboo subjects. Health and sexual health to say nothing about mental and relationship health are not all separate issues and should receive loving supportive care at all stages.   As I have recently discovered in relationships with others breast cancer treatment, even after early enough diagnosis, is a huge and painful burden for the patient, a load of stress and a high cost to families.  Family health matters, seriously so!

I came across the story below years ago and have brought it to listeners on my FAMILY MATTERS Radio Veritas programme many times but it still touches me and hope will encourage any readers too to take the matter seriously.


A handsome, middle-aged man walked quietly into the cafe and sat down. Before he ordered, he couldn’t help but notice a group of younger men at the table next to him.  It was obvious they were making fun of something about him, and it wasn’t until he remembered he was wearing a small pink ribbon on the lapel of his suit that he became aware of what the  joke was all about.

The man brushed off the reaction as ignorance, but the smirks began to get to him.  He looked one of
the rude men square in the eye, placed his hand beneath the ribbon and asked, quizzically, “This?”.
With that the men all began to laugh out loud.  The  man he addressed said, as he fought back laughter,
“Hey, sorry man, but we were just commenting on how pretty your little ribbon looks against your blue

The middle aged man calmly motioned for the joker to  come over to his table, and invited him to sit down.  As uncomfortable as he was, the guy obliged, not  really sure why.  In a soft voice, the middle aged  man said, “I wear this ribbon to bring awareness  about breast cancer.  I wear it in my mother’s
“Oh, sorry dude.  She died of breast cancer?”

“No, she didn’t.  She’s alive and well.  But her  breasts nourished me as an infant, and were a soft
resting place for my head when I was scared or  lonely as a little boy.  I’m very grateful for my
mother’s breasts, and her health.”
“Umm”, the stranger replied, “yeah”.  ”

And I wear this ribbon to honor my wife”, the middle  aged man went on. “And she’s okay, too?”, the other guy asked.  “Oh, yes.  She’s fine. Her breasts have been a great  source of loving pleasure for both of us, and  with them she nurtured and nourished our beautiful  daughter 23 years ago. I am grateful for my wife’s  breasts, and for her health.”
“Uh huh. And I guess you wear it to honor your daughter, also?”

“No.  It’s too late to honor my daughter by wearing it now.  My daughter died of breast cancer one month
ago.  She thought she was too young to have breast  cancer, so when she accidentally noticed a small
lump, she ignored it.  She thought that since it  wasn’t painful, it must not be anything to worry

Shaken and ashamed, the now sober stranger said, “Oh, man, I’m so sorry mister”.
“So, in my daughter’s memory, too, I proudly wear  this little ribbon, which allows me the opportunity
to enlighten others. Now, go home and talk to your  wife and your daughters, your mother and your
friends. And here .  .  .” The middle-aged man  reached in his pocket and handed the other man a
little pink ribbon.
The guy looked at it, slowly raised his head and  asked, “Can ya help me put it on?”

 This is breast cancer awareness month.  Do regular  breast self-exams and have annual mammograms if you women you love to do the same.  Please send this on  to anyone you would like to remind of the importance of breast cancer awareness.

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