True confession: I dislike pink. And the marketer in me winces every time I see another pink ribbon etched, woven, stamped, hung or printed on everything from yogurt cups to kitchen appliances to clothing and even pet food. Don’t get me wrong – I get it. Breast cancer has taken the lives of people I treasure. And I wholeheartedly believe that physicians, healthcare marketers, organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and even all of the consumer products and services brandishing pink have saved countless women by raising awareness of the importance of early detection.
So what’s the beef? I wish I could offer up a rational argument for my stance on pink, but admit it has more emotional than rational origins. Perhaps it’s what appears to me to be the over-commercialization of the cause. Or maybe something more deep-seated, like fear.
Six months ago, Susan Lilly (one of our colleagues at Corrigan Partners) learned she had breast cancer. She found a lump under her arm and soon discovered that it was a particularly aggressive form of the disease. The past six months have been an endurance race of chemotherapy, surgery and recovery for Susan, her husband and two young daughters. The good news is good! While she still has a couple more surgeries to go, she is now re-entering normalcy – whatever that is.
I remember the stomach-sinking dread felt when Susan first called to say she had breast cancer. And can only imagine what it must have been like for her and for thousands of other women who hear those words coming out of their physicians’ mouths. But Susan taught us much here at the office. How not to give into fear. How to take control of your illness. How to be a smart healthcare consumer, not just a patient. How to keep going through the chemo treatments. How to embrace the fashion possibilities when she lost her hair. How to keep your humor – and your faith – through it all.
So there it is. I’ve outed Susan with her full permission. She has incredible strength of character and is much loved and admired by her colleagues for 'just being Susan.'
And yes, she and I share similar views on pink. But maybe we just need a little more distance from the tribulations of the past six months to embrace its power to heal.