Of course, I don’t want to give off the impression that this conference is all about being silly and having fun. No sirree. We’re here for the serious business of learning what’s cutting edge and perhaps what the latest thinking is and treatments are, all related to The Cancer. The Big C. So Saturday morning, we all head off to the hotel ballroom for the kickoff speaker – this, of course, after I’ve dashed over to Reading Terminal to get my non-Amish bagel, thus assuaging my conscience from the Pretzel Scandal of the day before.
I try to look properly somber, as is befitting the occasion.
Woman with badge: Hi! Are you here for the conference? Please, right this way!
I’m greeted by a lady dressed in head to toe pink. And not just pink, but flamboyant pink. I think there’s pleather involved – which, let me tell you, is never a good idea for those over the age of, say, 50. And she’s definitely a bit north of that. And she’s wearing tall pink boots. And a pink hat. With a huge pink felt ribbon topping it off. It’s like a veritable walking Pinksplosion, right in front of me.
Me, weakly: Umm…..okay, thanks?
Then I see another one of these Women in Pink. This one with sparkly pink bracelets and spangles and jangly things. I feel like I’ve stumbled into some warped, circus-clown version of a breast cancer conference.
Then there’s the table piled high with leis. You’re supposed to pick one depending on how far out you are from diagnosis, but I bypass this entirely. A lei? Seriously? I don’t know, it just seems a bit too…frivolous, or something, for me.
I then make a beeline for the table where I see my young CancerChickies sitting – we’re like an island of youngness in a sea of 60-and-older women. As soon as I sit down, sweetie Melinda gives me something.
Melinda: Look what I picked up for you! Even though Pinkapalooza is over, I knew you’d appreciate it.
I look at what she’s given me, and my eyes well up, I’m so touched. *sniffle* - my very own pink-ribbon-shaped nail file.
Melinda: Over there at the tables – they have other giveaway stuff too, like this cool tote bag.
Me: Schwag?? There’s schwag?
Melinda: Yeah, ther…..Tasha?
Somehow Melinda finds herself talking to just a vapor trail, as I hurry over to the tables before all the schwag is gone. Ten minutes later I’m back.
Me, happily: Look at all my Pinkishness schwag! A tote bag, a keychain, more nail files……free stuff is the BEST! Ooh, look over there…
Over at the next table, I spy some women looking at something sparkly, something that lights up. I’m about to dart over there, create a diversion, and make off with said sparkly, but then the session begins and a woman starts talking. Damn. Well, maybe later. I put my serious face back on and get ready to take notes.
(20 minutes later)
“$@^*&#$^(*UGuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.....huzzah? Wha…?” I ask, as I lift my head from the table and look around rather blearily. I’d ask Cori what’s going on, but she’s gone. The speaker lost me when she started talking about the “journey” that we’re all on, but, I think to myself, maybe she’s moved on to something more useful.
Speaker: “…..so ladies, dealing with those pesky hot flashes – whether you’re actually post-menopausal, or if you’re post-menopausal because of the treatment or drugs you’re on, I have some great ways that you can combat those symptoms.”
Speaker: “Now, the thing that I’ve found MOST helpful in these situations to deal with those times when you’re suffering through all that excessive perspiration is…..panti-liners!”
And she starts gaily waving one about. I laugh rather incredulously, as do most of the girls at my table, but then we look around and see that no one else is really laughing – a wry chuckle maybe, but that’s it. Is she actually serious?
Speaker: “See, you can tape them under your arms – and look, they fit perfectly in your shoes!”
Apparently so, folks, apparently so.
After a Zumba demonstration and a fashion parade which consisted of older women walking around in bras and skimpy negligees (and during which I keep looking around to see if Cori will show up in a slutty nurse outfit), the kickoff speaker finishes up and we get a short break before it’s time for the breakout sessions. I believe the one I’m signed up for is called “How to do your makeup so that you look halfway decent and don’t scare little children after The Cancer has conspired to make you look and feel like shit.” Or something like that. Almost exactly like that. Meanwhile, where’s Cori? Hmm……