By Dr. Jessica Bardales
Good day dear sisters
It is 8:00 a.m. I am wearing a hat, gloves and wrapped in blankets. It is 0 degrees this beautiful autumn day. I am sitting in a balcony in the South of Stockholm, Sweden thinking that tomorrow around this same time, you will be at Sunshine’s after another successful Pink Lily walkathon. I will be with you through this letter.
Some minutes ago I witnessed two young ladies arguing over who was wearing the most pink items. I also admired the most unique breast cancer ribbon I have ever seen, it was made of pink sapphire diamond that cost the owner over 500 US dollars.
Since 1993, October has been designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month around the globe and given the color pink to symbolize it. It is beautiful to see its many shades.
Thank you for showing up today. Thank you for showing that you care, that you are aware that the only condition to develop breast cancer is to have breasts and all of us have that. Thank you for being part of this 11th encouraging Pink Lily walkathon, the brainchild of Lea Parris.
The families of the ones we lost to cancer and the ones going through the journey, including Lea and myself are the ones who appreciate your presence the most …but sisters, the success of this walkathon or any other activity around the world cannot be judged by how nice the gathering is or how pink our clothes are. Our real success will be achieved if we UNDERSTAND the real message.
What will happen after this “ENCOURAGING WALKATHON” ends?
Will we REALLY feel encouraged to LOVE OURSELVES enough to make time to examine our breast, our entire body and try to notice any changes? Will we really feel encouraged enough to take our nutrition seriously and make walks part of our routine? Will we encourage one another to live positively? To uplift each other? The success of this walkathon will be achieved knowing that you will do all possible to prevent ANY HEALTH CONDITION, INCLUDING BREAST CANCER.
I needed to be present today even from far because our message goes beyond the prettiness of the color pink. Breast cancer, CANCER in general is not a simple or a pretty history. Do not get distracted! There is no beauty while waiting at the doctor’s office after cancer has been suspected, there is no beauty the way our body or soul feels after the many debilitating treatments that MANY cannot afford.
There is no pretty pink in this condition that I know too well after being challenged four times by it plus by three life-threatening complications.
I am here with you after so many physical and spiritual challenges. The loss of my fingernails, toenails, hair, the difficulties walking, drinking even water or even breathing meant nothing when all what you fight for, is for another day next to your children.
I am able to write to you today because my family did not mind losing all to keep me alive because my children that were 6 and 8 when this journey started are now 15 and 13 and are my nurses and therapists 24/7. I am able to write to you, to be here, because YOUR LOVE, support, and prayers sustained me in my scary moments. My titles did not matter. Cancer does not discriminate. The condition is still active. I am still under treatment but I am LIVING. I am recovering, I am studying with the hopes to keep serving in my profession. I am recovering. It is possible! How I will be next walkathon? Only God holds the future.
Some other brothers and sisters have even more than what I have, but sometimes it is not enough.
I am here also with a heavy heart thinking about the “mother” behind this popular walkathon.
Lea Paris. Many adjectives come to my mind to describe her: bouncing, outgoing, friendly, unstoppable. Lea is one of the strongest persons I have ever met. Lea is A WOMAN OF FAITH. I cannot remain sitting on this balcony but be here with you today to ask each one of you to pray for the many cancer warriors, to pray for our indomitable Lea Parris.
I am here because in spite of her acceptance and many brave speeches, it hurts me enormously seeing her loss of weight and unusual tiredness. It hurts me to know that she is far from her little girls today.
I came to disturb your calmness in a loving way to remind you not to get distracted by the prettiness of pink. There is nothing pretty in this condition. I came because if there is a message that Lea and I are trying so arduously to get out, it is: LOVE YOURSELF ENOUGH! FIND TIME TO ENJOY EACH DAY OF YOUR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTHINESS. TRY YOUR VERY BEST TO NEVER CROSS THE BREACH. Lea’s love for us makes her find the strength to share her complicated journey with us. A journey faced with such bravery and outpouring gratitude and love that can only come from God.
Please, let’s be silent for 1 minute. Let’s silently feel our togetherness and love. Let’s silently pray for so many in our community and the world facing this condition. Let’s pray for LEA and her family and make them feel what she always say to us. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We are here for you!!!
Dr. Jessica Bardales
A blessed survivor