This Is A Love Story

I know this picture is terrible. It’s hard to capture the back of your head.

This is a love story.

I am married to someone I’ve known since I was an awkward freshman in high school.

We bonded over sitting in the same row in Sister Geneva’s English class and our mutual affection for Chuck Taylor high tops.

I’m obliged to tell you at this point that we did not date until after college, although once in our senior collegiate year I asked if he’d ever thought about dating me.

He said no.

In retrospect, I don’t think that was true, but at some point he clearly changed his mind.

Love isn’t flashy all the time.

There are many ordinary moments I have forgotten over the past 22+ years. That makes me sad.

Our story includes moving five times for my work and many years of waiting to get to the next step, whether it was residency, fellowship, my first “real job” as an attending or some other nebulous goal that was just ever-so-slightly beyond the horizon.

Cancer was a new reckoning.

We’d been through so much already.

But love showed up – mightily- when I asked My Ever Patient Spouse to shave my head one step ahead of the chemo this past spring.

He did.

Months and months later, my hair started to grow back.

Regretfully, no one informed me that I was developing a mullet and it wasn’t until I looked at the back of my head for the first time that I realized I needed a barber NOW.

Once again, I enlisted him into action.

He gently buzzed my head again, but this time, not to scalp. It was just to neaten the edges. I think he did a pretty good job, even if the above photo doesn’t do it justice.

My friends, that is love.

Thoughts on #Pinktober

Well, well, with the turn of the calendar we’ve arrived at Breast Cancer Awareness month, complete with its cringe-y moniker #Pinktober.

Pinktober is highly controversial among breast cancer survivors.

Years of pinkwashing, exposes of “charitable” organizations that weren’t so charitable after all, and controversial political decisions by major players in the breast cancer sphere have soured many to the pink ribbon.

And let’s face it: seeing NFL players in pink jerseys may be a cute tribute, but I didn’t care about that when I was sitting in a chair with chemotherapy dripping into my veins.

More needs to be done.

For me, this is my first rodeo as a breast cancer survivor and I’m conflicted.

There’s the frustrated advocate in me who eschews the hype and demands action, and there is also the grateful human who has straddled the thin line between sickness and health – and she wants to celebrate.

So I’m leaning in to the pink. Hard. I choose gratitude and joy.

And I will proudly wear pink every day in October. I’m lucky that I get to.