Oct 14

When Maren was five, I was at a shoe store with NanaRoz, toddler Greta, and Maren.  Since Greta never agreed to stay seated in the stroller unless the stroller was moving very rapidly, I was doing speedy laps around the store while NanaRoz and Maren selected a new pair of shoes.  Maren picked out the perfect pair of shoes and I left them at the counter while I did another lap.  By the time I circled around again, the two of them were rooting through a bin of shoe charms to decorate the soon-to-be-purchased new shoes.  Grandmothers, right?  Maren and Greta are blessed to have two of the best grandmothers on the planet.

Maren emerged with two charms: one I no longer remember, and the other, a pink ribbon.  She beamed up at me, “A pink ribbon Mom.  For you.”

My heart melted and I was touched at the sweetness of my daughter that she chose a charm to represent her mama.  The fact that it was a pink ribbon and all of the political and social implications it has was irrelevant to me.  I focused on the heart of my daughter.  She chose the pink ribbon that day to say: “I love you.  You matter.  I carry you with me.”

That is pretty much the feeling I choose to carry with me during this month of Pinktober.  I see the pink and I choose to see the goodness: that my cancer is a “popular” cancer that receives more funding than other lesser-known cancers, people wearing pink honor of me and my disease, and fundraising taking place that (I hope) will directly and positively impact my lifespan.

That, I believe, is the heart of the pink ribbon movement.  As with all things, it is abused by some, misunderstood by others, and also empowering and endearing.  We all see it through our own lens.

There are a lot of people and organizations who are up in arms about the problems with the pink movement: the way that pink ribbons are used to sell for profit and not for charity, the minimal funding directed specifically to StageIV/metastatic/terminal disease, and the mis-education of awareness and early detection as the focal points of the campaigns.  It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I am not up in arms about this, but neither am I buying anything pink this month without researching that there is a benefit to an actual breast cancer person.  I tread a middle ground.

I guess that is my  simple request of you, assuming you want to be thoughtful and intentional with your giving this month… think and/or research before you buy, use, do anything pink.  I also understand that is hard to do, as the grocery store feels pink-washed as I walk through it, so I give you the benefit of the doubt.  I’m pumped about legitimate corporate big-dollar giving, for example all profit for October sales goes to XYZ charity.  I’m nauseated by the ones that make pink product and then give nothing to charity, or a token donation that pales in comparison to the profit.


My legacy is not about pink ribbons, breast cancer, Stage IV or otherwise.  My legacy is Do Today Well and my relationships with my family and friends.  If you have “pinked” at me in the past, I took it in the sentiment I’m sure you intended: I love you.  You matter.  I carry you with me.  

If you really want to do something this October, I suggest you find an actual person suffering, and step in to ease their situation somehow.  (Note: I do not mean me.)  I think that’s the heart of the movement, but it’s always the most effective when it is done person-to-person, relationship-to-relationship.  Brad and I are trying to teach the girls this practice, but it requires such intentionality!  Step in.  Give.  Gift.  Surprise.  Delight.  Dazzle.

Trust me, you can’t go wrong this way, and it really does make a difference for all the right reasons.  I’ve been on the receiving side of this many more times than I deserve and it always cheers me beyond what you can imagine.

I love you.  You matter.  I carry you with me.

Isn’t that what we all want to hear?

Do today well.


  1. Well said!!!

  2. Love this!

  3. I love this post and the grace with which you tackle the toughest topics.

    So well said.


  4. Anne T /

    You are Amazing! I wish I had half your wit; half your charm. I know you aren’t writing for people to say this. You write with such purpose and condor. I adore you! I hope your message goes viral. No matter the cause, it’s so important for each of us to hear. I love you. You matter. I carry you with me!


    • Thanks Anne. What a nice reflection of my writing. I am touched!

  5. Did you know that only 4% of all money for cancer research goes to childhood cancer. (ALL childhood cancers!)
    My 16 year old daughter didn’t have a chance.

    • Thoughts of your radiant Lauren encourage and motivate me to Do Today Well. Pediatric cancer should indeed get far more funding!

  6. Kathleen /


  7. Fran Brock /

    Jen I am so glad you made us aware of research to our donations to breast cancer. I always look forward to your post. I love hearing about your daughters.
    When you write about your girls it brings back memories of you and your two sisters when your Mon and Dad were buying your bigger house.
    I was your Mom and Dads Realtor, this was in 1989. I do not remember which one of you girls did not want to leave their smaller home.
    So many people LOVE you and your family.
    I don’t reply too often but so look forward to hearing from you.
    Fran Brock

    • Thanks Fran. I have a wonderful family and life full of awesome memories. I am blessed!

  8. Kim Rourke /

    A wonderful gentle reminder!

  9. I think you should submit this post to Would you mind if I email it a writer there?


  10. Beautifully put, sensitively written, and definitely thoughtful in a gracious way. Bless you, Jen.

  11. Michelle /

    Fantastic post

  12. Christin /

    Jen, your words carry weight, and it’s beautiful because they are ONLY a mere reflection of your heart. You have been pressed and come out stronger. I love you.