Patients share "Perspectives on Pink" on breast cancer awareness
INDIANAPOLIS - The nation is blanketed in pink for breast cancer awareness, but by now, some patients are reporting "pink fatigue."
October kicked off with a splash of pink in the downtown canal. Even the mighty NFL joined in, with the Colts playing Sunday with pink accents.
For women with breast cancer, the perspective on pink is as unique as the patient.
"I call myself a warrior woman, so these are probably my warrior sisters," said Krysti Hughett. "October is like a sea of pink and I don't mind the pink, because I think awareness is really important."
"I see pink as a taking away from everything else. In October, it used to be AIDS month, it used to be diabetes month," said Linda Batchelor-Ballew.
"For me, I think about the friends that I have lost. I lost my best friend last year to metastatic breast cancer and we worked together for 30 years. I was diagnosed and also diagnosed with metastatic before she was, but she lost her battle," said Cindy Day. "So there is a little bit of survivor guilt there, but every time I do an event, I think about my friends that I've lost."
Each of the women have Stage 4, or metastatic, breast cancer.
"I'm here and still kicking," Hughett said.
Her cancer is inflammatory. She's been Stage 4 now for six years.
"Twenty-five percent or so of women will some day become metastatic and live with breast cancer and your treatment never ends. Everybody will come up to you and say, 'When will your treatment be over?' It's like, while it never does, we're in treatment until we are not here anymore," she said.
Debra Porento is HER2 and estrogen-positive. She has been Stage 4 for two years.
"I would like people to realize that you can live and you can go on," she said.
"Years ago, we would not have been here, I mean, I was told a year, maybe 18 months to live when I was first diagnosed with metastatic in 2005 and it's been six years," said Day, who is triple-negative.
Their views vary, except as it relates to time. They all want to fill theirs with purpose and it's hard to know what is the color for that.
"I just think it's so important that, yes, people are aware about breast cancer, they know what to do, but also that they know that there's that deeper color of pink that we are dealing with. That not everybody lives...with breast cancer, sometimes it's hard living with it and that the research is so important," Hughett said.
Specifically for these women, research into what causes a cell to travel, or metastasize, and become a killer.
Thursday (October 13) is Metastatic Breast Cancer Day.