The Simple (Yet Complicated) Reminder From A Ribbon


The hospital has become somewhat of a second home to my family between all the appointments we have there. Not only do we attend the typical, well-check appointments (which really add up when you’re a bigger family), we also spent got to know the ins and outs while my son Caleb was the recipient of a three and a half year treatment plan to treat T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

One day, while waiting for labs/infusion, we were looking around the hospital’s Resource Center. The Resource Center is located by the Oncology Center and designed to provide resources to people receiving, coping with, or following up on cancer treatments. I peeked into the room and observed books to my left, pamphlets to my right, and a bowl full of pins that say “Cancer Survivor” resting on a desk near the entrance area. Then, my eyes landed on a bowl of ribbons in the center of the room. We wandered further in to check it out. The bowl was full of different colors of ribbons: emerald, pink, blue, orchid, white, orange, white, lavender. Next to the bowl was a list of each ribbon’s color and which cancer they represent.

Emerald is for liver cancer, pink is for breast cancer, blue is for colon cancer, orchid is for testicular cancer, white is for lung cancer, orange is for leukemia, and so on. I began fishing through the bowl for orange ribbons – the color which represents our journey with fighting leukemia. I found one and pinned it to my purse and then I asked Caleb if he’d like an orange ribbon too. He said, “No thanks, I want a lavender ribbon”

“Which cancer does lavender represent?” I asked him, as I looked through the bowl to find some. “All cancers,” he replied. My heart swelled – and still does even writing the story now.

I found him a lavender ribbon and then got one for myself. I felt humbled and realized just how special it was that he expressed a wish to wear a lavender ribbon. He automatically understood that all people fighting all cancers are on a tough road–not just him, not just us, and not just leukemia patients (I knew this, too, but I just instinctively reached for the ribbon that represented our personal experience without much thought). How amazing that such a young boy was able to set aside his own concerns to think about other people.

It got me thinking about how things would be if we all made a point to do this a little more. To think about others above ourselves. To not get too wrapped up in our own personal situations. Not that that’s wrong – in fact, that’s important to care about things on a very personal level – but just to make sure to remember that there are others also going through tough things. too. The older I get the more I recognize that everyone wants someone to care about their plights, to listen, and to ask how they’re doing. It’s important to make a point to do this when we can.

The lavender ribbon is an important awareness ribbon for all cancers, but in that moment, it also became a symbolic reminder to remember that everyone is going through something. In a society where Mommy Wars are being fought every moment of every day, it’s good to take a moment to dismount our horses and come eye-to-eye with people and try to truly understand their situations and what they are going through. And not only think about it but to try to support them where we can, and show love to their situations.

To think about others.
To support others.
To show love to others.

The issues we all face in our own lives are incredibly important to advocate for, but for me, the lavender ribbon story will always remind me that there is a lot more going on in the world beyond my experiences. It will remind me to take a step back and consider the experiences of other people. It will remind me that everyone appreciates the compassion, love, and support that they receive and to try to always make sure to give it. I am hopeful that the lavender ribbon story will inspire others to do the same thing.