That means a lot of things that I love. The smell of leaves and crisp air that inevitably always brings back memories of cross country season.
Halloween and the excitement of my kids as we engage in the weird ritual of dressing up and asking for candy from complete strangers.
Pumpkin lattes from Starbucks that turn into peppermint mochas and the promise of the holidays fast approaching.
And as my son's baseball team switched over to pink and black jerseys and we laced pink shoelaces through his cleats, I found myself explaining to him something else about October. The reason why he's wearing that color.
Although October has been breast cancer awareness month since 1985, awareness has become more public and prominent over the more recent years. MLB and NFL fans watch their favorite teams play in pink, industry production of pink products are everywhere and brave survivors now have social media to share their stories.
I do not have a family history of breast cancer. My exposure to breast cancer was extremely limited until just a few years ago; but now I suddenly find myself with many friends who are current fighters, survivors, or both.
And although I have not had to personally fight that battle, the significance behind this month has hit me harder than usual the past few years. Of course because of those friends whom I know are personally fighting that battle... but for another reason too.
Boobs. Such a funny word that makes my kids giggle every time.
A young girl can't wait for them to grow. Another young woman wishes they were smaller because they draw too much attention. An athlete curses them as she squeezes into two sports bras in an attempt to keep them still. A bride pushes them up to make sure they just look just right in her wedding gown. A soon-to-be mother marvels at how big and painful they've become.
And then the baby comes and it just all makes sense.
Now don't get me wrong; I'm a huge advocate for feeding babies. Breastfed, bottle fed, formula fed, pumped milk fed... fed is always best.
Personally, however, I was lucky to have babies who breastfed well and blessed to have enough chances that I became much more relaxed by the third time around.
About a year ago, there were "breastfeeding tree of life" pictures floating around the internet with instructions on the app to use and how to create the pictures. Still breastfeeding my youngest at the time, I immediately downloaded the app and played around with it. I never posted it because... well, I'm not really sure why. The pictures were beautiful. The ones I saw online and the ones of my own blonde babe nursing. How could they not be?
I adored nursing my babies. When I found the picture on my phone, I realized how much I miss it. And having found it during this particular month of the year, I couldn't help but think about how some mothers have been or will be cheated out of such a beautiful experience.
My heart goes out to all the mothers who were not able to breastfeed their babies because of a disease. My heart goes out to all the mothers who nursed their babies, only to find out later that a disease has taken over the very part of their bodies that gave life to their babies.
And my heart goes out to future mothers and future women who will get a phone call or sit in a doctors office and hear those words. Even without a family history, none of us are immune. Breast cancer affects one in eight women; that's our mothers, our sisters, our friends. Any one of us could be one of those future women.
It's scary and sad and cruel and unfair.
I paused when I found this picture on my phone; my heart in my throat as I saw the beauty in what our bodies can do.
And I explained the meaning of the month to my son because he needs to understand. I explained because I don't want him to wear the color simply because he sees all his favorite pro athletes with pink shoelaces. I explained because he is our future and our future NEEDS to find a cure.
Feel like helping? Check these options out below:
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Susan G. Komen