There it sat in the center of my hospital tray turned makeshift mantel covered with knick knacks. Pictures, notes, lip glosses, and a mug filled with fruit roll ups surrounding a variety of trinkets aligned perfectly around this three inch brass boxing glove. At the time of my diagnosis of Acute Myeloid Leukemia I was in high school and my odds were not favorable. My family and friends rushed to my side in support and “just in case.”
During one of these visits my Nina (Godmother/Aunt) gave me what would become my first pair of boxing gloves. The next few months were a cancer chaotic blur of confusing traumatic moments. I was stuck in a hospital fighting for my life and though things on my hospital mantel changed my glove stayed center stage. There was something about it that made me feel strong. Maybe it was because it was so heavy and small but there was something about it I just connected with.
As I prepared for a Bone Marrow Transplant later that year my Tia Cindy (my other Aunt) gave me a mini pair of red Everlast boxing gloves. They hung proudly on one of my many IV poles. Both pairs followed along with me during my journey. As time progressed and I began piecing together life after cancer these little gloves found new homes. The brass glove now sat on my dresser and the red Everlast gloves hung from the mirror in my car. Both acted as symbols of protection. Both reminders of strength and hope and the powerful punch that the combination packs.
Fast forward a few years and my boxing gloves had now found a new home safely nestled in a hat box with treasured memories. As a young girl imagining myself as a teenager and a grown woman it did not include cancer; it definitely did not include cancer twice.
But here I was again. I was 35 taking my daughter to kindergarten and headed to treatment but this time for Metastatic Breast cancer ll. I was home resting one day flipping through social media and I stumbled upon Fighting Pretty. I saw a picture of these pink boxing gloves and my heart raced-boxing gloves? Boxing Gloves!
I jumped up and ran to my closet to pull out my hat box. I fell to my knees opening Pandora's box and found the bioharzard bag that held my delicately wrapped boxing gloves. An instinct was triggered. A switch came on and I decided I was going to make this ugly horrible awful thing as beautiful as possible. I was going to Fight Pretty.
My first step started with the help of my five year old daughter shaving my head and then together we got henna tattoos. My second step was creating my tribe. The people I could share the details with who helped me navigate the thick of it. Third was creating my support plan of online support groups, reliable trusted information, non-profit's that could help, and continuing to do the things I love doing. Music, nature, working out, art and being creative were all helpful ways to cope. However I still felt alone.
Fighting Pretty made me realize I was never alone. These gloves gave me more than something to hold. They were a tangible way of knowing that if I’ve had enough today, someone was already there carrying on. I found such peace in knowing I might be too consumed with my diagnosis one day but there are advocates picking up where I've lost my stamina.
Asking the questions, having the interviews, spreading awareness, raising money, singing the songs of hope in the form of a Nightbirde Queen-empowering eachother and reminding one another that on the darkest hardest days when the mutanity our bodies just won't quit; remind yourself of who you are, what you can overcome and adjust your crown Queen.
These gloves represent the loyal army who may not know you by name but know the empty bra you're holding and will not let you fight alone. These gloves represent so much for so many of us and until the day comes when my Princess never has to deal with cancer I will lace up and be ready to fight as pretty as possible.
Article written by Fighting Pretty Brand Ambassador, Renee Firato.
For more inspiration from Renee, follow her on Instagram: @reneediane3