BENEFITING: THINK PINK ROCKS
ORGANIZER: THINK PINK ROCKS
It was just over a year ago, just before the summer of 2011, when, upon modeling bathing suits in a full-length mirror, I noticed a quite definitive lump underneath my left breast. The mass was rather oddly and uncomfortably placed, lying not so much in my breast as annoyingly under it, in my underwire line, as if my upper abdomen had the makings of a lopsided seven-pack. I’ll admit it was also out of sheer vanity, a desire to remedy the eyesore that this asymmetry posed to my perfectionistic mind, that motivated me to get it checked out immediately.
For no real reason, I made an appointment to see the surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital who had removed my mother’s hernia, prepared for her to tell me that I was grossly overreacting (which, as a melodramatic writer, I was often inclined). That this lump was some sort of a cyst, something which would eventually deflate and resolve itself, with time, and maybe with the help of some topical cream. But not only did this doctor NOT deem my appointment with her unnecessary, she immediately identified my weird abdominal addition with a word that conjures an extraordinary amount of fear. With perhaps one of the scariest diagnoses a doctor can give you: a tumor.
What she also immediately told me was that she was pretty certain it was benign, that the only factor which gave it any real credence was (and it was chilling to hear this): my age. I was in the perfect demographic for breast cancer.
This wasn’t the first adversity to confront me or my family in the past year, and it certainly wasn’t the gravest, the most devastating, the one which proved to be the most irreversibly life-altering (more on this another time). But this tumor did come temporally alongside these new devastations, accompanying them and somehow symbolically embodying them, as if it was the physical manifestation of some larger-than-life foreign force, invading my world and threatening my very stance in it. Like a hand shaking the ground below you, turning everything once concrete tenuous. This tumor, to me, demonstrated the petrifying supremacy of fate; taunted me, a fastidious control freak, with the fact that I could be as meticulous as possible and as perfect as possible, on any front, and life was still going to throw me things. Things I’d never expect, and for the first time ever, would find myself helpless and powerless against.
I’d always been an avid runner, but I began running a whole lot during this time, during this year or two punctuated by unprecedented hardships. I ran not for the weight loss or social factors which had incentivized my working out in the past, but rather, I ran for the simple stress relief of it; for the self-affirming, mentally restorative qualities. I found a way I could show my strength; I found a way I could fight back. I started running greater distances, upping my longtime standard of a half hour to a consistent hour, and occasionally two (my ceiling of 7 miles becoming 8, 10, 13). Sometimes I felt like I could go on running indefinitely--I wouldn’t even feel any discomfort until I stopped--and I was acutely aware of the reason why. Secretly, I knew I wasn’t running with my legs; I was running with my mind.
A month or so following my initial doctor’s visit, I had my first surgery ever, more because of the tumor’s inconvenient placing than because it posed a pressing medical risk, but after it was biopsied, it was confirmed to be 100% completely benign. I know that many other women—women who might have strived to be omnipotent and “perfect” like me, women who are perfectly like me—are not handed this same fate. They don’t get to laugh their tumor off as an aesthetic inconvenience, don’t get to dismiss their entire surgery experience as inconsequential, short of any didactic lessons, and they don’t get to regain their same firm stance in the world. Sometimes this invasive foreign force, this otherworldly physical embodiment, triumphs and it wins. But I’ve found a way we can show our strength; I’ve found a way we can fight back.
This November, I’ll be running the 2012 New York City Marathon for THINK PINK ROCKS, a non-profit started in 2005 by a breast cancer patient, Stephanie Robin, to raise awareness about early detection of breast cancer by testing for gene mutations which increase a woman’s risk, and to raise funding for such screening, breast cancer treatment, and research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. In truth, I’ve never seriously contemplated a marathon before, as I was always far too concerned with hurting or breaking myself, but I guess I’m not all that afraid of being imperfect anymore; quite the contrary, I’ve come to believe it’s the obstacles and roadblocks that really shape and define us. I’m not entirely sure how I plan to do this yet, as I ran my first half marathon in Central Park last spring, but I remain optimistic that what allows a person to run 26.2 miles is the same thing which enables her to write 300+ page novels: a strong, determined, unwavering mind.
I hope you will join me in this journey, from the race sidelines or from your computers, and contribute whatever you can, a couple of dollars even, in support of life and science and overcoming adversity and building community and thinking pink and showing great strength: in our legs, for sure, but far more importantly, in our minds and in our hearts.
Thanks for your help,
ABOUT THINK PINK ROCKS:
We are a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise awareness about early detection of and genetic testing for breast cancer and to provide funding for screening, treatment and research.
Did you know:
• A woman's risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she carries the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation (Breast Cancer gene mutation).
• Men with these mutations also have an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer. Our team will raise money and awareness for breast cancer research.
All money raised for Think Pink Rocks from the ING New York City Marathon 2012 will benefit breast cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Some members of our team have a direct connection to breast cancer, but we also have many team members who are running simply because they want to support a great cause.
Think Pink Rocks is a 501 (c) (3) organization. Contributions to Think Pink Rocks are tax deductable to the extent allowable by law.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OUR TEAM, PLEASE EMAIL RICH, OUR TEAM CAPTAIN, AT RICHRSL@YAHOO.COM.