Time to Reflect as Pink Zone Game Nears
Feb. 16 will mark my third year attending the Pennsylvania Pink Zone Lady Lions basketball game as a breast cancer survivor.
The third time I will join hundreds of other survivors on the court during halftime. The third time I will celebrate another year of survivorship.
Each year the Pink Zone game challenges me to reflect. I think about the past year and what I have accomplished. I think about my journey and what it has meant to me, year after year. For many, it's so much more than a basketball game, and even so much more than a celebration of community, survivorship and strength.
With a sea of pink in the stands at the Bryce Jordan Center, for many it may even be a wake up call to see how many people breast cancer affects. For me it's a chance to celebrate another year of health and to connect with other survivors and their families. It's a chance to wear my pink ribbon proudly with my friends and family, and cheer on the Lady Lions. It's a chance to be a part of something big.
As a young survivor it was hard to find my voice at first. Diagnosed at age 26 while planning my wedding, I felt different than many of the other survivors I had met. When I was called to the court during halftime as a survivor for the first time, I proudly lined up, waiting to appear in front of the crowd with hundreds of other breast cancer survivors. It was impossible not to notice I was probably the youngest survivor there.
Initially I felt a little sad: why was I here? I was young, healthy and was planning my wedding. I didn't belong. But that feeling quickly disappeared. Seeing the other survivors gave me hope. There were women of all ages, and survivorship of varying numbers: some 20 or 30 year survivors, some still in treatment.
And I realized no matter how different our battles and journeys, and no matter our ages, we're all fighting for the same cause.
In the three years since my diagnosis I continue to grow and heal through getting involved in the community, taking on athletic challenges and sharing my story. And I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without the support of my husband, family and friends, and the breast cancer community here in Happy Valley.
I'll always have my scars, and parts of me are still confused, still angry and still hurt. The breast cancer has changed my life forever, from tests and screenings and fear, to starting a family. But I decided change can be empowering. Unexpected struggles can bring out parts of yourself you never knew existed.
And I'm not alone. The Pink Zone game reminds me of that.
I am so lucky to be part of this initiative -- to not only support those affected by this disease, but to find a cure. I really believe we'll get there one day. But until we do, I can feel comfort in knowing I belong to a community that shares my passion, my values, my strength and my drive when it comes to breast cancer. I can't wait to see what this year's game brings. Like the breast cancer patient, let's not just help Pink Zone survive; let's help it thrive.
The tipoff for this year's game is 1 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center, when the Lady Lions will take on Wisconsin.
The Pink Zone has distributed more than $825,000 in seven years to support education, research and treatment in the field of breast cancer, according to its website.
"Nothing defines Pink Zone more than the survivors who attend year after year," the website states. "This is an emotional game with a defining cause. The inspiration that the survivors provide to all in attendance — including the Lady Lions — is truly remarkable."
Pink Zone beneficiaries include Mount Nittany Medical Center, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, the PA Breast Cancer Coalition, Kay Yow Cancer Fund, J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital and Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital. Click HERE for more information about the Pink Zone.
Marjorie S. Miller is a breast cancer survivor and a staff writer for The Centre County Gazette. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.