October is breast cancer awareness month. People wear pink and gather in supportive communities to promote understanding and support a life-changing cause. One in eight women and one in a thousand men are diagnosed with breast cancer. Twenty-three percent will die from the disease.
The statistics are harsh, and they are real.
Dive for a Cure (DFAC) is an annual event that has raised more than $150,000 for breast cancer research in the past five years. Scuba divers, such as myself, are able to manifest their passion into a larger meaning. I am not really a runner – well, not outside of my head at least – so marathons for good causes have never really been a realistic goal for me, although I happily participate in the walking portions.
DFAC, on the other hand, is a perfect opportunity to mix my own love of the sport with…well, a larger sense of love.
Fin races, raffles, a beanbag “octo” toss, and an underwater poker game are some of the events that raise money. In the poker game, divers don their gear and swim underwater to various dealers to collect a hand of cards, with the winning hand receiving a new dry suit. Some good friends will even blow on you and your gear, for luck, before you descend underwater.
After swimming to each dealer and reaching the lake’s surface, I Quasimodo-ed out of the water with a poker hand of three clubs, one heart, one diamond, and numbers that spanned the spectrum. I decided to go for a flush. After exchanging the two off-suited cards with the above-water dealer, I received another clubs and….a heart. I didn’t get my flush but I did have two tens in my hand – enough to beat my diving partner. So, in some ways, I guess all that blowing worked.
“What did you get?” someone asked me after the dive.
“Oh, two tens,” I replied.
Jokingly, the diver retold me a second-hand comment she overheard from a similar interaction – “Well, at least you’ve got a pair” – which made me chuckle. I pride myself on occasionally being gutsy, or on occasionally “having a pair,” so I found humor in the response.
A few days later, though, I was wondering about it: a pair – a pair of tens, a pair of balls, or a pair of breasts. How much does our “pair” identify us?
My favorite part of my female anatomy is my breasts (particularly the left one). Just like I am sometimes proud of “having a pair,” I am also sometimes proud of my breasts (particularly the left one). I identify with them, and I can’t comprehend what it would be like to not have part of duo (even the right one).
I have no personal experience with breast cancer, our family has fortunately been spared of that disease (although not of others), and I know that this is a serious, sensitive topic.
So I want to express how much I admire all of the women and men who fight the disease – fight to understand it, fight to live with it and live without it, fight to eradicate it. But, in a twisted way, I want to thank these diseases too – for bringing us together in a loving, supportive, humanly empathetic community.
Because, I think, we all heart boobies. And we all want to Dive for a Cure.