think [beyond] pink

It’s October, which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Lexington’s Race for the Cure was yesterday.  Friday evening as I drove home through downtown, I noticed all the hoopla being set up for the festivities.

I realize breast cancer is a big deal.  First of all, I’m a middle aged female.  Second of all, I’ve had multiple mammograms.  Third of all, I’ve had to go the extra mile and have an ultrasound done on my breast, due to a large cyst.  While it wasn’t cancerous, or even really that dangerous, it was a nerve wracking situation to deal with.  Plus it made my health insurance premiums go up.  While I haven’t been diagnosed with breast cancer and haven’t lost a close relation to it, I can relate.  I can understand the bleakness and trauma of the situation.  I comprehend the [sisterhood] and the [think pink] mentality that bands us together in a common cause.

Yet, earlier in the day Friday, before the Race for the Cure folks were busy downtown, I encountered a woman who faced other issues.  This woman lives 3.6 miles from me.  I met her Friday morning at a prayer walk.  She wasn’t invited, though the group is certainly open.  She had never met any of us gathered there that morning.  Yet she saw us, parked her van on the street, and approached.  She wasn’t even wearing shoes, despite the chilly morning.  She openly shared her concerns.

She lives in an unsafe apartment complex.  She’s raising [I didn’t catch the exact number], I believe 6 children as a single mom.  Because of recent violence in the complex, she doesn’t allow her kids to play outside.  There were other situations- the typical single mom living in a rough neighborhood stuff I’ve heard over and over.  But this was the kicker.  This is what got me.  Whether she was exaggerating I don’t know.  But I feel no compulsion to not believe her.  After all, I don’t live in her complex.  I certainly cannot relate.  She said,

“I can’t go to the complex laundromat at night, because I’ll get raped.” 

What in the world?  She has to arrange her laundry schedule in order to not get sexually assaulted?  A woman, living 3.6 miles from my home?  She’s not in the Congo.  She’s not in a village somewhere.  She’s here in the city limits of a university town.

Fortunately, a friend/fellow female worker of mine was able to connect with her and get contact info.  We’re hoping our workplace can help make a difference there.  Hopefully others will too.

I’m curious as to where the [sisterhood] is when women in our own community struggle like this.  Why are we über concerned about cancer, which yes, is horrible, but turn our heads when women fear getting raped when doing their everyday chores?  Isn’t that also horrible?

What if today the NFL took all the money spent on [pink] uniforms and accessories and helped women in communities and situations like the lady I met on Friday?  I’m not saying don’t support breast cancer research.  I’m not minimizing the grief and tragedy of a woman losing her life to a disease.  I’m just hoping we can expand our horizons and consider kids are getting shot, women are getting raped, and kids can’t play outside, 3.6 miles away from our house.  Maybe even closer.  That’s a cycle that needs to stop.  Why aren’t we racing for a cure for women like I met Friday?

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