October: A Month of Ambivalence

October:  A Month of Ambivalence

October is a month of ambivalence—some leaves still lingering green next to brilliant golds and reds, crisp mornings that morph into warm, sunny afternoons, dense fog that rolls in on morning commutes and then moves into clarity an hour later–October with its uncertainty and predictions, courage and fear.

It’s a month that for whatever reason has been designated breast cancer awareness month, a month of prolific pink ribbons, pink scarves and t-shirts, pink appliances, pink M&Ms, marketing gone awry.  Wouldn’t April be a better choice with its first yellow daffodil signaling hope?

In October of 2003 my sister’s breast cancer returned and mine was first diagnosed.  It was a month that changed the course of our family’s life, teaching us not to make plans but to take each day as it comes, a month of inward searches and hidden tears and fears, brave smiles, hope tempered by a reality that loomed large.  My sister’s cancer would not be cured but could be treated for a while, only eighteen months it turned out.

What is certain about October is that it will return every year to be experienced again and again in all its pinkness that could overshadow October’s brilliance if we let it.  It signals the possibility that this October could be my mother’s last.  It signals memories and fears my cancer will return.  It signals uncertainty for my daughters’ and granddaughters’ futures, as we are all reminded of October’s ambivalence, October’s uncertainty, October with its courage and its hope, its losses and its grief.

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If you would like to read the story of how my sister and I faced breast cancer at the same time, my memoir In My Sister’s Footsteps:  A Walk with Breast Cancer is available now on Amazon.  I think the story of my sister’s courage and her determination to live life to the fullest while she could will inspire anyone faced with the challenge of surviving breast cancer.

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