2 min read

Once a pink lady, always a pink lady

Olivia Newton-John and the pink ribbon in the room

Pink muscle car

My mom loves the musical Grease. She loves Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta. It was one of the first movies she saw when she came to the United States as a new bride. I think my aunt took her to see it, and my mom fell in love with the singing and dancing.

About 13 years ago, my husband and I sent my parents for a weekend in New York City so they could see the musical for their anniversary. My dad bought my mom a Rydell High t-shirt as a souvenir and she wore around the house until it finally fell apart after so many years. So when I think of Olivia Newton-John, I think of that.

But it’s not all I think of when I think of the blond sprite who played sweet Sandy. So I’ve been avoiding star's passing and focusing on the memories people shared. I’ve been avoiding the giant pink ribbon in the room as I scrolled through social media and noticed how people shared about her on-screen persona, the first time they saw Grease, her music videos, her smile, her voice.

I thought of the breast cancer that took her. And morbidly I thought “Once a Pink Lady, Always a Pink Lady.”

As friends and family warmly remembered a beautiful woman who played as a background to their memories, I thought of the pink ribbon that will always be a part of her and how she died.

When people die of a disease that has tried to kill you, PTSD plays a part of your, “What if?”

As you start to become comfortable that your cancer is in the past, there is still a part of your mind that brings it back to the forefront. It can be the annual checkup, finding out a loved one has been diagnosed, or the weird headache that doesn’t seem to go away and makes you wonder if your cancer has metastasized.

So when you hear of a celebrity dying of the pink beribboned monster in the room, touch base with your friends who have been touched by the pink ribbon and who are always thinking, “What if.” We’re not okay.

If you really want to support us, do your monthly self-checks and get your annual exams.

For more information about breast cancer and the signs to look for, check out Know Your Lemons.