Toxic Pink:

The more time I spend as the recipient of health care or as a” patient”the more I realize the impact of the people that provide health care.
The value of human interaction, the importance of kind conversations, the willingness to listen and make time, the effort to make the patient feel comfortable and an equal partner in what is being done to them.
My recent interaction with a mammography technician is a great example of this. Of course this is October and a lot of women are being prompted to do mammograms, after all, that’s what most women equate it to…I need to do a mammogram so I don’t get cancer or its caught early.
The center for Breast Death as I call it is also splattered in pinkness and pinkification since it’s the fountain of pink in the hospital.
The suite is decorated with different words such as faith, hope etc. One statement that caught my eye was “hair is so overrated”, not sure which genius thought that putting this up was a good idea.
Hair is overrated? Perhaps having two breast is over rated too, you could live with one or none? Are they over rated too? Sometimes ridiculous accompanies pink.
To aggravate further, the staff was wearing neon pink t shirts. Three cheers for awareness and especially for the lady that had a fake pink lock in her hair just to make the point.
There is a difference between promoting awareness and making a show of pink. There is a thing called dignity and grace that should accompany the ” Operation Pinkify”
A lot of people don’t know how to walk this thin line. They have not seen pink closely. Some have but want to keep it light and bubbly, sort of an upbeat thing, like there is anything upbeat about cancer and yes ” hair is so overrated”. Try being bald for 6 months, may be the rating will improve.
So amidst that sea of pink, I arrive to get a mammogram for odd swelling in my right breast ( the one breast that is still alive). The waiting room is full of anxious women, as if they are being strangled by the pink ribbon. Sometimes I feel sorry for them, since they are in fear of what a mammogram might show, for me, the worst has already come true so I find my self generally more relaxed.
I get called in and am escorted by a technician whom I am not familiar with. She is shuffling though papers as she takes me in.
She looks at me and says” You had a mammogram on your right breast three months again, only one side..and now you want another one just one the right side”.
Thank you pink, thank you awareness, thank you for your decorations and t shirts and the pink bears but are you really aware what breast cancer does to a woman? That it is possible that if you remove your pink goggles and read the form I filled out that I have only one breast, thanks to breast cancer, yes that cancer that your neon pink shirt and your Pepto-Bismol colored reception area indicates?
I found myself feeling angry and sad simultaneously.
I responded, “I have only one breast, I can have only one side done”
Yay for awareness, Yay for pink.pink_ribbon5


  1. Uzma, I am so sorry you had to deal with a tech with such lack of empathy. I wish more nurses/ techs/ doctors would take the time to actually read up on a patient before approaching them instead of being so caught up in these fads and failing to address the actual awareness that should be addressed year long. I always enjoy reading your posts, you write so beautifully. Praying for your continued health! xo, Hebah

  2. Yeah, dignity and grace in cancer awareness would be great, wonder if we’ll ever get it? And yes, I really wish some of the professionals in cancer care were not such enthusiastic devotees of pink.

  3. All that “awareness” and so unbelievably unaware! I hope she at least felt embarrassed enough to not do it to others from now on.

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