Living in the Pink World of HOPE

Published 6:42 pm Thursday, October 3, 2019

By Lynn Gendusa
Former Troup County resident living in Roswell

When I play golf, I always tee up my pink golf ball with the word HOPE written on its dimpled surface. I have purchased these Wilson balls for seven years. I make sure I turn the ball to see the four letters before I attempt to smack it down the fairway. When I view the word HOPE, I find it inspires me to keep on driving, continue praying, and remember why I insist on purchasing the same little pink ball.

I love that each time I buy these HOPE balls, I make a small donation to Breast Cancer Research. Trust me, they have made some money off my errant drives into the ball eating woods.

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Now, I discovered the HOPE ball has been discontinued. This is very disturbing because breast cancer has not been discontinued and is still very much a part of our lives. Out of eight women you know, one will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year.

Because of donations, awareness walks, research grants, pink ribbons, pink trinkets, pink wreaths on shop doors, and all of October pink, my daughter is alive and well eight years after being diagnosed with a killer.

There are now 3.1 million breast cancer survivors. When this sisterhood of survivors boldly share their individual journey, they inspire others with courage and conviction.

In October 2011, my daughter was wheeled into surgery to have a port put just under the skin below her left shoulder. Through this port, she would receive a cocktail of chemotherapy plus Herceptin. For those of you who do not know what Herceptin is, here is a brief history:

In 1987 the National Cancer Institute gave funding to UCLA researcher, Dr. Dennis Salmon, who along with scientists at Genentech was studying why some breast cancer proved fatal. Why were some women who were diagnosed with the same type and stage of breast cancer living, while others did not survive even though their treatments were the same? What was the discrepancy? The difference they discovered was HER2. The HER2-positive breast cancer is one that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2, which promotes the growth of cancer cells. Because of its aggressiveness, it often proved deadly. By 1998 this group had discovered a drug called Herceptin to combat the HER-2 protein.

For women who now test positive for the HER2 protein, they are given Herceptin through their ports along with chemotherapy. Once the chemotherapy infusions end, Herceptin must be administered for approximately a year or longer.

While my daughter was in surgery to receive her port, another woman was wheeled out on a gurney. Her doctors beamed as they told me the story of this patient who had suffered from metastatic breast cancer for years.

What does purchasing a golf ball, a pink trinket, or giving a donation do? It’s personal, it’s true, and it could happen to your daughter or your wife, or your sister, or mother, or a golf buddy at any time.

Last night my daughter sent me a picture of my granddaughter preparing to go to her first high school dance. It is shocking to see a child you regard as an infant standing tall in heels and a black dress. Grandmothers are often astounded by how life moves with lightning speed causing baby girls to suddenly become young women.

In the next picture, this same child was proudly standing beside her mother. Her mom’s blond hair touching her shoulder, her smile beaming proudly at the beautiful young woman her daughter has become.

There is no hint of the dark days that enveloped our lives for over a year in 2011. Our family knows underneath the smiles are the thankful hearts for the ones whose research saved a life for a mother and daughter to stand beneath the Florida sun, experiencing life at lightning speed.

Go buy a golf ball, a pink trinket, or better yet, write a check so that mothers may continue to joyfully watch their children grow.

The bottom line to finding cures for all types of cancers that affect those we love is through prayer and abundant giving, which fills us all with a world of HOPE.