Everyone’s wearing those silicone Lance Armstrong bracelets nowadays. It’s the hip thing to do. You can buy them in mass quantities on the streets of New York City. Businessmen wear them with their Armani suits. Hippies use them to accessorize with their tie-dye. They’re really quite versatile.
I’ve not had the desire to jump on this bandwagon. That is, until one of my closest friends, Lora, was diagnosed with leukemia last year. The diagnosis came just days before Christmas. The 20-year-old had searched for months for an answer to her back and hip pain. God found her worthy of leukemia. She never complains about being sick and always looks for opportunities to share Christ with fellow patients, nurses and doctors.
The last time I saw Lora, she was sporting one of these "hip" bracelets. It was then we began our quest to learn what specific color represented leukemia, so we could wear the right color with pride. Since she didn’t know which was for leukemia, we decided on baby blue. A week or two later I came across a bunch of these bracelets at Wal-Mart. I flipped the package over to find a color code, explaining which cancer went with each color. To my dismay, baby blue is reserved for prostate cancer. Orange, it said, was for leukemia. Obviously, the makers of these bracelets did not consult us first. Whoever decided that baby blue represents prostate cancer? I thought it was funny, nonetheless, and mailed Lora a prostate bracelet. Turns out, she said, green is also dubbed leukemia’s color.
Recently I received some mail, and in it was the key to my acceptance here in NYC. It was my very own green leukemia bracelet. I’ve worn it every day since it arrived. Not to be cool and fit in, but to be reminded. To many, I’m sure, my bracelet is just another accessory. But to me, it’s a reminder. It’s a reminder of God’s goodness. And it’s a reminder to pray for Lora. It also serves as a talking point.
I’ve found that a majority of those who wear these bracelets do so because they, too, have a story. A friend whose aunt has cancer; another with a friend battling prostate cancer. The bracelet, though it may be a passing fad, is a great tool for witnessing. People ask about my bracelet, and I proudly tell them about my friend, her faith and God’s goodness. Since her diagnosis last year, Lora has had numerous rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. She’s currently recovering from a bone marrow transplant and will remain hospitalized for several more weeks. Through it all, she smiles and remains optimistic.
Cancer used to be such a vague, abstract thing to me. Now, it’s so real I often find myself wishing there was some way I could chase it down and make it disappear. The horrid disease hits close to home—it seems everyone has a friend, neighbor or relative with cancer. Even though I can’t physically kick cancer, I think I should start lobbying the fund-raising committee that decided orange represented leukemia. That committee should get together with the other committee that decided green was for leukemia. They must create a sort of uniform. That way I could at least better coordinate with my outfits.[Kate Klos, 20, lives in upstate New York. She recently returned from attending the World Journalism Institute in NYC and does not leave the house without her pretty, green leukemia bracelet.]
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