Just one glance toward the skyline reminds us that this isn’t just another month. Perhaps you’ve seen pink ribbons on the backs of cars, the lapels of sports coaches and politicians, or large bands of the color itself capping the city’s tallest buildings in support of breast cancer awareness.
Even as Breast Cancer Awareness Month draws to a close, instead of going pink, I’d like to do something a little different: I’m going brown.
Along with bushy eyebrows, colorectal cancer is highly prevalent in my family, affecting almost all males and some females in the last several generations. At a recent reunion, we all were awestruck after someone charted out every single case that has affected our family.
Colorectal cancer is something we’re well aware of, ribbon or not. With my father having twice survived the disease, my siblings and I have undergone a lifelong course of prevention, including our first colonoscopies.
One of the few things President George W. Bush and I may have in common is that we’ve both had colon polyps removed. He was 61 at the time. I was 19.
Colorectal cancer doesn’t quite get the level of press as other forms of cancer. In the large pink shadow cast by the endless supply of breast cancer merchandise, many other diseases are overlooked that deserve just as much attention.
Perhaps it’s a matter of marketing: pink is in right now. Brown has never been popular.
There are only so many colors to choose from before they all start blending together, so for the time being, just one or two will do.
We live in a time when a simple yellow magnetic ribbon has the power to turn complete strangers into bitter enemies or like-minded friends.
Colors, flags, symbols – they’re all ways of simplifying and dividing the diverse makeup of our society. Politicians and journalists alike have redrawn the map of this country, separating states into red or blue, and in turn reducing the masses into rigid categorical identities. It makes it easier to wrap their heads around the sheer size of the population they work for, yet more difficult to satisfy everyone.
In a nation where colors embody everything from politics to diseases, it’s refreshing to see that people can unite behind certain causes with entirely positive messages.
You might never see the skyline lit up in brown fluorescent lights or the fountain at Love Park spouting brown water – intentionally, at least – but if it’s the color pink we all unite behind once a year, then it’s safe to say that our minds are in the right place.
Brian Krier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.