Pink porta potty–too much of a good thing?

There is a construction site in my neighborhood. I drive by it often.IMG_1053 It’s like most construction sites — three or four houses at different levels of completion. One, I believe, is already sold.

As builders go, these appear to be conscientious about keeping the surrounding area as free of debris as possible. I’m grateful for that as I imagine are the neighbors nearer the site than I.

There is one thing, however, that makes this site different from any other I’ve seen. There are two Pepto-Bismol pink porta johns. As you can see in the photo there’s a pink ribbon painted on the front.

I can’t say why, but each time I drive past these eyesores I feel a bit more disconcerted, maybe agitated, than the previous pass. In writing this post I’m not having a knee-jerk reaction. I’ve had months to contemplate the possible reasons a person might be compelled to promote breast cancer awareness via outdoor toilets.

For the personal/emotional reasons I have a fairly high degree of empathy and understanding. Those who have lost a friend, mother, sister, wife, husband, etc., to breast cancer feel helpless and want to do something to save others from suffering. I get that.

The organizations that promote breast cancer awareness (Susan G Komen and Planned Parenthood come to mind.) have done an admirable job of putting that little pink ribbon and its meaning in the minds of almost all Americans. I have some pink ribbon pins I wear during October, if I remember. October is breast cancer awareness month, of course. But the ubiquitous pink ribbon has made most of us aware during the other eleven months as well. That’s a good thing.

Maybe it’s the ubiquity that has caused my discomfort. I think perhaps it has a down side. Maybe it brings out the charlatans. I seldom go shopping anywhere for anything without seeing a pink ribbon decal and a message telling me that if I buy this item the company presenting it will give a portion of the proceeds to a charity promoting awareness. But do they really? How do I know that? Do I sound cynical? I suppose I do. But I prefer to pick my charities and check them out before donating.

I would appreciate your comments. Tell me how you feel. Kindly, please. I’m especially interested in hearing from people who have or have had breast cancer. Do you like the pink toilets? You may have guessed by now that I don’t.


Preventive maintenance.

The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.                 ~ Mark Twain

Yep!  Today is mammogram day.  As Mark Twain said above, I’d rather not.  Even though my chest doesn’t look like the woman in the cartoon, it feels as if it does.  Mammography gives new meaning to compression.

I don’t remember when my exams started to fall in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I guess it’s a good thing, though, since I have many pink bows and public service announcements to remind me.

As it happens, my doctor’s office is in the same building as the imaging center, so I decided I should go upstairs and get my flu shot.  Back in September my doctor told me to just drop in, that I wouldn’t need an appointment.  I took her at her word.  Unfortunately, the staff didn’t get the message.  Or maybe the doctor didn’t understand all the steps one must go through before being inoculated.  More likely, some of the staff were anticipating the weekend and they put their brains away early.

I did my dactyloscopy check-in.  Then the young woman at the desk asked for my name.  I’m not sure why they have to ask for your name once they’ve checked your hand print identification.  It took about two more seconds to figure out that the poor child was clueless.  Long story short — I went from the front desk to the nurses’ station to the front desk to the nurses’ station.  At one point a woman in check-out asked me if I was checking out.  I said, “No, ma’am, I’m just going in circles.”  She said, “okay” and gave me a sweet smile.  As I was leaving twenty minutes later, I stopped to check out and she informed I didn’t need to check out.  Go figure.

So here I am, immunized and aching all over.  Flu shots always do that to me.  I have serious questions about whether they’re actually effective, but I keep going back year after year in the hope that they are.

Oh, and the nurse who gave me the injection apologized for the confusion and told me the woman who checked me in is soon to be moved to a department more suited to her skills.  I’m happy for her.  And for the patients.

Note:  My spell check suggested I might need cartography, not mammography.  Hmmmm.  Maybe I do.

Things I ponder as I walk.

Are cats vengeful?  I used to have a lovely African violet sitting in my kitchen window.  It has thrived there for a couple of years.  Enter Lulu.  Lulu the Cat loves to sever the leaves.  Sometimes she chews them; sometimes she discards them.  I surrounded the plant with other items in order to leave no space for said cat.  For a time it worked.

This morning Lulu was playful.  I heard her bouncing all over the kitchen and den.  I eventually went in there to join in the fun.  I quickly started to feel more hostile than playful.  There on the floor were about eight or nine violet leaves as if they were trying to compete with the shedding tree outside the window.  All the bouncing had apparently been Lulu jumping up to steal a leaf, losing her balance and dropping back down, taking a leaf with her.  Grrrrrrrr.  Poor, poor, pitiful plant.  See all those sad leafless stems?

I have now done what I always did when I had small children: I put the plant where the cat can’t get to it.  Behind closed doors.  In my bedroom.  Lulu’s not allowed in there because of my allergies.

Is it time to move beyond awareness October is breast cancer awareness month.  I wrote about this last year, in a very positive way, I think.

I don’t take awareness lightly.  It’s the first step toward eradicating a problem.  And breast cancer is a major problem.  As are all cancers.

I have several friends who are breast cancer survivors.  And one dear friend who didn’t survive.  I recently asked my closest friend L, who is a survivor, “Are you sick of all this pink ribbon stuff?”  Her immediate and unequivocal response: “YES!”

I think it’s safe to say that the “pink ribbon” has become the universal symbol for Breast Cancer Awareness, and there’s the rub.  L’s concern, and mine, is that it is being misused to make money, to make a profit, by companies and/or individuals who have no intention of contributing to the cause.  I don’t know how prevalent this practice is, but I do know I’ve seen many tacky items with some cheap version of a pink ribbon, and I simply couldn’t believe they were legitimate.

Whenever I think of charities I always return to March of Dimes.  Is anyone else old enough to remember what that organization did to polio?  They funded research which resulted in the development of both the Salk and Sabin vaccines thus eradicating polio.  With that mission accomplished, they turned their focus to the prevention of birth defects.

When I was in elementary school we had “dime” drives with cards that held dimes.  We children collected dimes at a time when, for many, they were hard to come by.  Everyone was in on this fight.  Even parents (mine) who couldn’t afford to give to charity contributed a thin dime or two to the card of their child.  No child wanted to take in an unfilled card.

My family didn’t understand the full significance of the March of Dimes until my baby sister contracted polio at the age of two.  The doctor sent her to a hospital in another city.  Fortunately her case was mild.  She spent only a month there.  Imagine my parents’ surprise when the hospital administrator told them the bills would be paid by the March of Dimes.

I don’t really know whether it’s fair to compare these two charities.  Times are different.  There were most certainly some who “cheated” March of Dimes, but I was too young to know that.  I do know that many played fairly because we were committed to a very important cause.  And we delivered.

I’m idealistic enough believe that cancer research can be streamlined and standardized and we can beat it.  Franklin D. Roosevelt started the March of Dimes.  Maybe what we need is presidential prodding.  Cancer is nonpartisan.  When we seriously focus on a problem we can be nonpartisan, too, and we can accomplish anything.  Let’s do it!  Maybe one day we will have a cancer vaccine.  It could happen.