I grew up proud of the Special Forces Dagger on the breadbox.
I knew where the metals were hidden in the drawer.
These markers of bravery never spoken of—beyond reference to the elusive Green Beret—
A symbol of heroes not awarded, to a pilot, without marked time, boots on the ground.
The Green Beret—referenced more often—than Purple Hearts awarded and lessons of war.
No, there was no talk of bravery or what it took to fight a war with an invisible enemy.
My hero has ribbons and scars that are rarely seen, if you don’t count his knee or inner core.
That’s where there’s a mark, for the crew he saved as the pilot, landing ‘the Bird’.
And in a back closet, in a room rarely visited;
There hangs a uniform of his best friend—another symbol of battle—to preserve.
As I grew; I resented those people, flaunting their ribbons and service awards.
They couldn’t be real heroes; because REAL heroes kept ribbons locked away in drawers.
Even in my friends’ homes, where Old Glory would triangulate;
Their hero’s pictures just after boot camp—black and white, green beige, some with flags—
All clean cut with smiles—no ribbons to brag.
No details of combat haunting their core, steeling into blackness;
PTSD; wounds; dead and dying—still unexpected—those things happen to others and in lore.
Today I wear a different kind of ribbon; one earned throughout history posthumously;
Though it was unheard of; it is dedicated to every Woman, Man, and Child.
To those who are grieving, fighting, and dying—especially those who feel like they’re going crazy—
Hormones drying up, genetic mutations coddling cancer cells;
Vertigo, light sensitivity, private parts eroding—those damning cells collide with poison—
Night terrors, chemo induced menopause—THIRST—every aspect of my human self, eroding.
No, this ribbon is not meant to be hidden in a drawer or forgotten, to erase the stains of war.
There wasn’t a caveat to how I earned it or settled a score.
This war I will always fight; just as I know deep down that my hero’s war never ended.
Agent Orange sullied my hero’s fight.
But in this war, chemical weapons and biological agents aren’t meant for destruction;
No sit in; college enrollment; or move to another country will prevent you from facing this war.
Here, combat means poison, radiation, limbs altered, and body parts defaced.
My head shaved—there was no boot camp for where I’ve been—proven by the braces on my teeth.
Very unlike war, these scars of battle—to see my heart beating where my D cup once lay;
Now my teeth are yellowed, hair turned gray; those expanders led to reconstruction;
An aching body; nightmares of work; terrorized by three with despicable corruption;
Lost love announced by the big C; newly thinned hair and resulting in financial destruction.
This battle won’t discriminate between social classes, culture, political stand or belief.
It defiles my ability to think clearly after ravaging my femininity and crash landing some dreams.
Today, Pink stands for my new normal—and it’s recognized—more than my hero’s lost dreams.
I wear this ribbon for him and the warriors who saved my life and for those the battle did end.
I wear this ribbon for those who fought and others who will eliminate this fight.
My hero volunteered for that fight, freely and without pause.
He taught me of skeletons with skin and human smoke—to teach me of war—without visiting his own.
This hero didn’t face just one year of a fight; living life after the invasion on October 19th;
A birthday he faced with his reserve unit, a sheriff, search and rescue with volunteers;
A kidnapped Son, always just out of sight; no ribbon or Beret awarded for that kind of fight.
His birthday is tomorrow, so another year passes without knowing my brother;
And I will begin a regular day; enlisting the assistance of adjunct therapy—a little more gray.
Today, this ribbon is for awareness; worn proudly by war heroes, supporters, teammates, and friends.
It’s worn by our doctors, nurses, caregivers;
It’s worn by people with an expiration date, who give of their life freely to treatment and science;
That may save another’s life to the detriment of their survival.
It’s worn by those dying and a mother who choose a baby over treatment, to hold her one time.
The ribbon is worn by Women like me;
Choosing the ability to adopt someday over their birth right to bear children;
This combat ribbon is worn for survivors with scars that we can see.
Pink is worn for science, innovation, and progress; not commerce or party.
The ribbon is made possible, by Men and Women like my hero who fight and fought for a cause.
My pink combat ribbon is worn as a symbol of my survival without pause.
My ribbon was awarded by one of my teammates, care taker and lifelong friend.
My hero’s ribbons and dagger were awarded by our country and not often spoke of again.
Though we cannot talk—due to an unmentionable party—I write this, thinking of him.
My ribbon is worn for my hero who taught me to fight.
It’s worn for my grandparents and ancestors who suffered alone, not knowing what they fought;
As science and our progress, had not been theirs, for a cutting edge their fight.
Today I wear my Pink Combat ribbon; thankful to all whom stood with me in my fight.
Thankful to all those who fought; granting freedom to doctors and scientists;
Who strategize and command my fellow fighters into battle, combating wars unseen.
Yet this ribbon I wear just doesn’t stand for Cancer.
Remember, I could be anyone with any history, much more than cancer.
I could be the sister of a missing brother, a survivor of three kinds of abuse, a child scorned by a mother;
A teenager emancipated; one expected to drop out and abuse.
Perhaps I’ve enjoyed studied success, maybe I owe my life to Sallie Mae, and maybe I earn much less.
These ribbons don’t tell the whole story, I’m much more than that cancer, it’s not about glory.
Don’t trivialize my life by focusing on Cancer—know that I’ve risked more in love and laughter.
Pink doesn’t define my life much more than camouflage described my father’s.
Know that I stand grateful for those who expand our awareness; thankful for all who have fought;
I’m proud to say these ribbons are not made for drawers or posthumous recognition.
The Pink Combat Ribbon belongs to us all; for a future without Cancer, to all of our ambition.
To all those with a rainbow of ribbons; for Leukemia, Child Abuses, Missing Persons et.,
I wear my Pink Combat Ribbon as a Survivor of Cancer, armed with my friends as family;
A Girl who learned how to fight—long before I endured this long battle;
Yes, I earned the Pink Camouflage Ribbon and I found love again.
— Thalia Jaide Dufaigh who Fights Like a Girl! (Jade NiDubhthaigh)
The informational content of this article is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.