X-Rays and Candy

Yesterday I was doing something uncharacteristically indulgent—getting my hair colored, trimmed, and styled, when I overheard another client and stylist discussing the dangers of trick or treating, you know, the old razors in apples thing. They spoke of that myth as the gospel truth, as the reason they were taking their kids to some trunk and treat thing (I did not know what that was—had to look it up!).

I am always surprised at how those myths persist—heck, they began in the pre-internet age—which really says something about how people latch onto things, and don’t let go. I remember the razors in apples thing growing up, I remember local hospitals offering to x-ray candy every year. Does that still happen?

I was chomping at the bit to intrude on their conversation, but, alas, I was in the hair drying/styling portion of my salon day—so I only caught bits of the ongoing conversation, and there was no way I was going to yell over the sound of hot hair aimed at my head loudly at high speed. It’s funny, earlier this year, I wrote about struggling with the notion of jumping onto every little lapse when I hear cancer myths—worried I will become that tiresome “cancer woman” among people I know (probably already am to some degree). But when Halloween BS gets tossed around, whew, I was VERY ready to rain knowledge and truth on uninformed heads!

Forced into zipping my lips, I got contemplative about how myths persist. I mean, I know the jokes about not believing everything you see on the internet—of course you cannot! But on the other hand, not believing everything you read and hear (rumors?) is a long, grand tradition, isn’t it? (Uh-oh, having a childhood flashback to the rumor about the Mikey kid eating pop rocks and soda—anyone remember that?) And combating rumors with truth happens on the internet too, in addition to the creation of BS. So, how is it that so many people still buy into the urban legends about razors and apples? That has been debunked, I thought!

I wish I knew how to end these illusions, because that talent would sure come in handy in CancerLand.

We hang onto falsehoods, slogans, any number of ideas out of….what? Tradition? Habit? Pick any breast cancer sound bite: 1 in 8 (when that stat is bit more nuanced when looking at age brackets), early detection saves lives, sugar feeds cancer, a positive outlook helps kick cancer ass, run for cures—oh, why go on. I’ve been struggling with a few myths I hang onto myself—but at least I am questioning everything.

Maybe that is the key—the willingness to question anything one hears or reads. An open mind.

October is wrapping up and I find myself in a foul mood tonight. Watching nonsense online, people hanging onto untruths, just being unwilling to hear any challenges to what is perceived as facts, I’m just bummed out. Between Halloween myths and breast cancer BS, I’m just drowning in mass delusions.

I’ve been blogging and reading blogs for nearly 3 years, and I’ve been in CancerLand for nearly five, and I keep thinking: Still?! Still, with this rah rah pink crap, no progression?! How can that be? We have to keep fighting nonsense every year?

But the answer to that question was right in front of me yesterday, listening to 2 people talk about a lie, a decades old myth, like it was real.

I’m Taking Back October

I know what you’re thinking—it’s only August!

BUT—I was in a store a few days ago getting summer-decorated ice cube trays (don’t ask) and seeing the usual Back-to-School promos and as I checked out, there was an impulse-buy display of single-wrapped candies, in Halloween wrappers. If Halloween candy can be sold already, I can talk about October.

Side note—you’d think with all the new fall merchandise, my sad little summer items would’ve had a lower price, but no.

I’m used to this rushing to the next big selling opportunity, er, holiday; I used to work retail, in clothing, for many years. Try getting a pair of shorts or a tee in my beach resort area in late August; can’t be done. But you can get a wool sweater! Which is dumb; I live at the beach in the mid-Atlantic where it is rarely cold enough for thick, cozy, wooly clothing. Working 8 hours surrounded by thick sweaters and down parkas, and then leaving for the day in wicked heat…ugh! I do not miss it.

Halloween Candy 2013

All that said, I admit I bought the fun candy, and yeah, I ate it. Halloween is over 10 weeks away—and I don’t care.

The truth is, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the dress up, the haunted houses, the watching of old timey (not so) scary movies, the candy—that last one alone is my favorite; if a holiday in which kids knock on doors and ask for hand-outs of sweets did not exist, it would have to be invented. My birthday is just a couple of days before it. Fall has always been MY TIME. October has always been MY TIME. I just celebrate all of it for a whole week on a sugar high. So I don’t really have a problem buying (and eating) Halloween candy in the beginning of August. Are all the merchants “pushing it” too early? Yep. Good—prolong the season, I say. I’m restraining myself from putting “Night of the Living Dead” in the DVD player and searching online for decorations and Halloween themed recipes as I write this.

If you read my About page, you can guess that all my love for fall evaporated in 2010, as I was diagnosed a few days before my birthday. One of the many oh-so-awful things about cancer is that treatment takes sooooo long, so the hurdles, like day of surgery, first day of radiation, or first day of a type of chemo round, are bound to coincide with some otherwise pleasant milestone day, be it birthday, anniversary, etc. I guess in some ways it is good that my absolute worst day in cancer, the day of my surgery, happened in late April. I’m not a fan of springtime; I’m allergic to all kinds of pollen and usually Benadryl-ed out of my mind. So, the memory of surgery is not tied up with an otherwise pleasant memory. I like the other seasons much more. Fall is my favorite, October is my favorite, and it just sucks I had to go through the testing and diagnosis in October. Just no other way to describe it other than that: SUCKS!

And of course on top of it all—say it altogether now—National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When I first started haunting the internet on this issue last October, looking for the like-minded in my dislike of the pink ribbon circus, I remember distinctly reading one article, or blog, in which a woman talked about how much she used to love October and fall, and how that was ruined for her by the oversaturation of pink awareness. I wish I could remember where I saw that piece—it was the first one that made me start to feel better, because I knew then I really was not alone; not only was someone else sick of the pink ribbon, someone else didn’t like the way the intensified pink madness appropriated such a wonderful time of year, pouring perky pink over my beloved golds, yellows, oranges, and browns.

I am naïve, probably, in thinking I can “take back” October, as I claim here to be my intention. The onslaught of PINK will be too much, and something is bound to make me nuts, make me open my big mouth. I consider stocking up a number of dry goods so I don’t have to buy products emblazoned with that effen ribbon that are going to pop up on shelves any day now. Good thing I have a big Hurricane Preparedness/Evacuation Kit ready, stocked with the types of items that will soon be pink-er-ized. I can just use those if I start to run out (and there is no Sandy-type of threat). I gird my loins for the barrage of Pink events, for the endless, insultingly named ta-ta/second base/boobies-saving (not life) fundraisers.

Yeah, I know, it’s too early to borrow trouble. But, I repeat, the Halloween candy has arrived in the stores. Prepare.

source festishmode

I will do my best to ignore what sends me over the moon, to calmly correct untruths or half-truths I see/hear (1 in 8, early detection = prevention, need I go on?), and most of all, enjoy MY month, MY holiday, MY way. I will carve pumpkins. I will decorate anywhere I can. I will buy and eat and give away candy. I will make Halloween themed beverages. I will jump into piles of leaves like Linus, but avoid his error with the lollipop.  I will cheer the Ravens when the games are on. I will enjoy the cozy sweaters some days and run in the ocean in my cut-offs on others (if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes…), probably chasing some water dog.

I cannot forget I had cancer, I can control so very little in my life, but I can do this.


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