Each May sees my hair transform to pink, when I colour for a cause and go pink for a purpose. As my passion for the arts and self-expression may be a reason to colour my hair, it really is so much more. An ode to loved ones lost, a reflection on a society affected so deeply by breast cancer and cancer in general and now a tradition that is becoming more significant as my daughters get older.
Flash back to last weekend. To the side of a dance floor, alive with women feeling free and energised (and maybe a little tipsy), two women embrace. Despite their tears flowing as freely as the champagne, they are not sad – just remembering. They have just spent the day listening to inspiring speakers share their wisdom about health, wellbeing and self-care so it is no surprise that the conversation has lead to their health and that of their own family. One woman, remembering the loss of her mother, and now supporting another family member in the fight against cancer. The other, feeling the hole left by the death of an aunty from breast cancer. This, after witnessing the struggle and strength of a grandmother and another aunty in their battle against this bloody awful disease.
Sometimes I feel like an outsider on the inside. I have seen loved ones in a physical state that I wish never to see again…but it was someone else’s daughter. I have helped plan a funeral…but it was someone else’s sister. I have longed for someone at Christmas…but it was someone else’s best friend. I have missed someone at a wedding…but it was someone else’s partner. My heart has ached for someone at the birth of a child…but it was someone else’s mum. Should my pain feel less? I often feel it’s not worthy of the grief I’m giving it.
The woman I shared the dance floor conversation with reminded me of something after I apologised for upsetting her with the theme of our chat. While I can’t quote her exact words – it had been a long night – I remember the heart of her sentiment being this; Don’t be sorry for how you feel. Sometimes, despite our sadness, it feels good to talk about it. No one can understand exactly how we feel and they don’t need to. Our grief is our own. And how I can support those dealing with all the shit? Don’t avoid talking about it and just be there…just . be . there.
Flash forward to Mother’s Day, which is no longer a sleep in and breakfast in bed. These days, I rise early and run in the Mother’s Day Classic with my family members, for my family members. I dream of a time that we can run for fun instead of raising funds. But it’s not a fun run, in fact, quite the opposite. Shoulder to shoulder with battlers, survivors and supporters we run in the cold and we run in the rain. Raindrops pouring down our cheeks mixed with the tears, in a salty combination of hurt and gratitude. All the physical discomfort and emotional pain is nothing though, compared to what cancer patients go through. Our pink hats off to you all. This is for you.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums, wherever you are, for all that you are and all that you have done for us.
LEARN more about breast cancer on the Australian Breast Cancer Research website
DONATE funds for research to the National Breast Cancer Foundation
SUPPORT my run in the Mother’s Day Classic