Do You Have Any Teal Beads?
I work with many women with cancer in a therapeutic art program at a large, metropolitan outpatient chemotherapy center in Baltimore. So many of the women I work with have GYN cancers. Many are dealing with their second or third time around or are on maintenance at Stage IV. I get to know them and their families as we make artwork and jewelry. “Do you have teal beads?” is one of the first thing I hear when I suggest they might like to make earrings or a bracelet. I watch as the pink ribbons, T shirts, blankets, stuffed animals, balloons, shoes and everything else fill the room. I hear of financial assistance and help offered to women with breast cancer only. It burns me up. From my point of view, the issues surrounding GYN cancers are heart-breaking. The research dollars are shameful; the lack of awareness is pitiful. The stories of ignored symptoms are enough to bring tears to my eyes.
We need to do something about this. I am proud to work at a comprehensive cancer center that has 3 GYN Oncologists on staff. Our patients are getting great care. But the challenges are vast and it seems we have more advanced cases all the time. I do my best to provide distraction, comfort and some fun during a long, long day (and I had cancer 16 years ago, so I can relate a bit) but that’s not enough. Yes, we need more teal beads, but we also need to find more treatments and increase access to currently successful treatments.