There is lots of “Pink” ? floating around for this October 2016 Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s important! Many of you know I’m a six-year breast cancer survivor who feels enormously blessed with each and every new day of life! But did you know manatees have intimate ties to our awareness crusade? Manatees get their name from the Carib Indian word “manati” which translates to “woman’s breast”. Possibly observing manatees nursing their little ones is the inspiration behind the original name? Or maybe the first inhabitants of the Caribbean Islands had tales of mermaids too? Early Spanish and Portuguese explorers adopted the local “manati” name for the marine mammal also, but they mistook the meaning for “two hands” which focused on the manatee’s two flippers that are quite “hand-like”.
“Manati” is the Original Carib Indian Name for the Manatee, the Root Word Meaning “Woman’s Breast”. See the Pink on this Manatee’s Forehead? Is She Participating in Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Maybe Not Directly as the “Pink” is from Her Rubbing on a Boat Hull or Something Similar that Had Not Fully Dried Yet. Although, Who Really Knows What this Female Manatee is Communicating?
I photographed this pretty and charismatic manatee gal in February 2010. Little did I know I would get diagnosed with breast cancer in less than two months. Frankly, it’s not the easiest thing to talk about and I’d much rather talk about manatees and the magical Florida springs, but it’s important to help raise awareness and save lives. I want to help ?. The good news is there is so much accurate information now available regarding breast cancer. Women can educate themselves and subsequently help their own survival and the survival of friends and family. Breast cancer is sneaky, random and microscopic. It doesn’t follow absolute rules. As you might gather, it ultimately doesn’t really matter how healthy you are, although maintaining good health overall always helps in life. I was in the best shape of my life when diagnosed. There are family risk factors, but I had little to no hereditary risk factors. The main risk factor is being a woman, so fortunately even though the manatee’s name means “breast” manatees don’t tend to get cancer like we do. I think cancer has been recorded in manatees, but it’s very rare. Cancer is not rare in women though, so being that “the best defense is a good offense” knowledge and understanding of the situation is power are far as breast cancer goes. I encourage all women to discuss the subject with their doctors as there are a number of ways presently to detect if the sometimes hidden tumor(s) are present. Depending on how aggressive the individual case of breast cancer is, medical treatment is often successful these days and this is good news! Although, many ladies end up with aggressive types of the disease and through no fault of their own, lose the fight. It is those wonderful women we particularly pay tribute to during October.
The Famous Curaçao Waterfront All Lit Up Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month October 2011. I Took this Photo from a Cruise Ship as I Was on an After-Treatment Trip and Loving Every Minute of It! If There Were Still Historical Manatee Populations in the Caribbean Maybe They Would Notice this Impressive Site Too?
Observing and photographing manatees and kayaking to see them in the springs helped tremendously to rebuild and bolster my strength and optimism when I got doctor’s OK (and encouragement) to do so. I admonish any woman diagnosed to hang in there! On the other side of treatment there are wonders in life to experience! I mean, look at this…, a manatee photograph I took two weeks after completing all my medical breast cancer treatment and taken on my Birthday! It’s now featured on Manatee Lagoon’s Website. The kayak trip to the springs with my husband and the incredible moment I took this photograph makes me smile continuously. As I was witnessing this very tender behavior I observed it was instigated by a female manatee who was checking on a lone, forlorn male calf who’s mother had left him by himself in the springs for a bit. This truly altruistic manatee gesture was not lost on me. And the fact that Manatee Lagoon liked the photograph for their website was icing on the cake! I just want to communicate that life is wonderful, life is worth fighting-for, as the future is peppered with unknown joys totally worth having!
Manatee Lagoon, Florida Power & Light’s New Manatee Eco-Discovery Center in Riviera Beach, Florida, Chose My Image of Manatees Smooching for their Website and Promotional Banners. Taken on My Birthday, February 11, 2011, After Completing a Year of Breast Cancer Treatment, It Was a Magical Moment Worth Anything I Had to Go Through!
Taking care of oneself and continuing to live a rich life reaps abundant rewards unique to each individual. I’ve also been able to help bring awareness to the endangered manatees’ plight, before and especially after my recovery. Many valuable contributions can be made, focused on each individual’s situation, that make one extremely happy to be alive. I had the pleasure of doing a number of photoshoots for Visit Citrus (now Discover Crystal River Florida) focusing on polite observation of manatees. Look at Jennifer here, totally enthralled, and rocking the pink with the manatees!
As you see all the Pink? popping up here and there this October, remember what it means and all the poignant stories related to this awareness month. Do you want to help? There are many ways to help, believe me! You can donate towards a non-profit organization of your choosing, but don’t stop there. I found some of the most treasured help can be directed directly at the individual going through hard times. Simple personal help is often the most valuable and helpful thing. Whether it’s picking up groceries, sending over someone to help with cleaning, offering transportation to the breast cancer patient who is recovering, or stopping over with or sending a “recovery gift”, these personal gestures of help and time I found to be the most valuable and touching.
Enjoy life! Treasure loved ones! And support pro-survival awareness that helps save lives. ?