A few days ago, I watched what was intended to be an uplifting video of hospital workers, all wearing pink gloves, dancing with glee. As I watched I bitterly asked, “What are they celebrating?” Earlier the same morning I learned a special friend is now in the end stages of battling breast cancer. I felt no joy in her cancer story, just a stark disconnect between the dancing hospital staff aiming to raise a chunk of change for research and care and her predicament. I watched the glove groove disheartened, angry and hurt that such a wonderful woman could be taken by a disease — while those people danced in hopes for a cure that could not help her.
Perhaps the breast cancer public face we have painted is a too happy mask. We know that false face so well. We think of cancer and see a pink cover of walkers, racers, ribbons — a fluffy feminine shell of the heroic and tearful quest for survival. Below though, under that facade of success, there is still suffering, loss and death — the naked, ugly scars of breast cancer.
Watching the pink clad hands swaying, flicking and swinging in a breast cancer jamboree, I felt like a grim wedding guest considering the impending divorce of the bride and groom. As I viewed the video of the hospital staff cavorting, I questioned how many of them knew the face of breast cancer struggle and loss. Did the surgical staff, dressed with masks and eye shields know what it was like to loose a breast, or a life? Were any dancers survivors? Which revelers were they? I searched the faces to pick them out.
Was she dancing because she lived, like me? Was he joyous even though he lost his mother, sister or friend, or did those folks excuse themselves when asked to help with the video saying, “No, I can’t dance.”?
Now, a few days later, while I am still hurt, I understand why they were dancing. They were celebrating hope, an irresistible reason to dance, but a tragedy when it has faded.