Blog Post

Let’s Talk: About Mask Season

Photo of Rev. Davena L. Jones

October is a month filled with many things. It is the beginning of fall; therefore, the leaves on trees begin to change colors. It is a time of year that all children at heart look forward to dressing up as their favorite character or person. Visiting the pumpkin patch to hang out, ride ponies, jump around in jump houses, eat delicious pumpkin pies, cotton candy, and hot pretzels — oh and pick out a pumpkin to carve or paint. Some kids are trick or treating and others are attending their school fall dances. And then there are the beautiful, fun-filled Church Harvest Festivals, oh, what fun.

I recall my favorite Halloween costume was Fred Flintstone. That’s back in the day when costumes came in a box. It had a plastic jumpsuit with a face mask of one’s selected character or person. I also remember, in those days, one could receive fresh fruit and delicious baked goods from those behind the doors we knocked on while yelling as loud as we could, “trick or treat” — my, how times have changed. We now wear masks to save our lives and the lives of whom we come in contact for the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and its many strains.

October is also Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence awareness month, and both are life-changing illnesses filled with hidden destruction, masked in different forms. I used the term hidden to speak of a mass in one breast that seemed minor and harmless, or it once felt that way. Or that tiny thing you thought had disappeared, and one may think, “well, guess it was nothing.” The good news is sometimes people have fatty lump breast tissues, and then there are the times that it is cancer after all. Please, I encourage my siblings in Christ to get your scheduled breast exams and have even that tiny bump checked.

There is often a common theme among breast cancer and domestic violence. Both are hidden and hard to see (feel). Silence is deadly in both breast cancer and domestic violence. And sadly, these two fatal disruptions of life are often lived out in silence. Why? Because of fear, shame, loneliness, the feeling of not being understood or believed. Also, the lack of transparent and brave conversations on each of these prevent the needed provisions of prayer, support, resources, education, and accountability.

I was personally curious about the color selections of pink for breast cancer and purple for domestic violence. I learned that in 1991 Charlotte Haley was trying to increase awareness, and there was no color for cancer prevention, so Charlotte, out of her goodness, sent over a thousand message cards with a pink ribbon on them. The pink ribbon for breast cancer represents hope and goodness that there will be a future for those battling Breast Cancer and a cure.

Purple/violet is a rich, bold color that is one of my personal favorites. Not so much to wear, but to have surrounding me, and it reminds me of my beloved grandmother. I wear purple during October in honor of my mother, who died from domestic violence, and as a survivor of domestic violence. In contrast, purple is a color of royalty, purity, hope, and loyalty, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In 1981 Congress designated the Month of October and purple to be associated with the fight to end domestic violence and honor the victims and survivors of domestic violence.

My reflection on breast cancer and domestic violence is that both can be masked and overlooked, either accidentally or intentionally—the masking of breast cancer and domestic violence can lead to death.

Avoiding changes in one’s breast size, shape, and lumps can create a late diagnosis, making the prognosis grave but not impossible to beat.

People, the church, family, and friends ignoring visible, verbal, or non-verbal abuse creates a grave prognosis for battered people. Abuse can fester and worsen, creating an atmosphere of impending death, hurt, harm, and danger to victims and bystanders.

Bringing awareness during this month of seasonal changes is timely and provoking when one looks at these two issues deeply. The evolution of color in the leaves indicates the shift from summer to fall. And awareness of both breast cancer and domestic violence, along with education and resources, can bring about a change for good. So many people have died from breast cancer and domestic violence, yet there is hope amidst early detection, awareness, medication, support, recourses, therapy, and love.

May this month of October cause you to slow down, pause and examine the beauty of the leaves, your body closely, and yes, your neighbor.


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