Don’t rain on my parade!  - The Pink Fund

Don’t rain on my parade! 

Don't tell me not to live, just sit and putter
Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter
Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade 

If I had a bucket list, which I don’t, attending The Kentucky Derby would be on that list.   

So, imagine my surprise when I learned that attending Kentucky Oaks Day was not The Derby at all. In fact, I attended the 150th Kentucky Oaks, at Church Hill Downs.  

For the uninitiated in horse racing, Oaks Day is when the fillies (female horses) race, and for the last 16 years a day devoted to honoring breast cancer survivors who parade the track (with the exception of rain, walk the grass) waving to the sea of PINK crowd, cheering us on as if we had won some sort of race. (The Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade began in 2009 to help raise awareness for women’s health issues.) 

For many, surviving breast cancer can feel like a race, but far be it from the two minutes it takes to circle the mile-long track versus the days, months, and sometimes years of treatment before being declared cancer free. And for those with metastatic disease, those words, cancer free, may never be heard. 

This year 150 women were selected at random to parade, waving cardboard fans, indicating the years, months, and days we have survived since first hearing those life-changing words that begin with “I’m sorry.” “You have breast cancer.”  Words that rain on the parade of our lives. 

I must admit to being baffled. I have never felt like surviving breast cancer was something I won.  

In fact, in the last 19 years, one month, and now 9 days of survivorship, working in the space as a non-profit leader, board member, and advocate, I know for a fact that surviving breast cancer is a combination of so many factors, not some kind of health lottery prize. 

However, last Friday those 150 women who endured surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and reconstruction celebrated survivorship. Unlike the hundreds of advocates and breast cancer non-profit leaders, I meet at multiple conferences throughout the year doing great work, these women were just happy to be alive. Being alive was enough. At least for now. At least on Oaks Day. 

When the woman who finished treatment five months ago, met the woman who has survived 35 years there were hugs and tears of relief and hope. 

And while much of Oaks Day was sputtering rain and downpours, there was no way the clouds could rain on their parade! 

Get ready for me, love, 'cause I'm a comer
I simply gotta march, my heart's a drummer
Don't bring around a cloud to rain on my parade 

I'm gonna live and live now


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