Well, go figure that I’m wearing a pink sweater as I write this. It’s chilly and rainy here in SC as Joaquin pumps some rain and wind into our area. My pink sweater is a Black Mountain Off Road Adventure Park sweater and has nothing to do with the “Pink Movement”.
This time last year was when I found out I had breast cancer. Back then we thought it was just DCIS and had no idea what was in store for 2015 — surgery and chemo. I learned not to get too comfortable with anything, you never know what can come at you at any time and you need to be able to accept what comes and work with it however you can. I was barely aware of what awareness month this was until last year when I was among those affected.
For those of you under a rock that don’t know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With it has come the slew of Pink Posts on social media and companies selling their products decked out in that ribbon happy pink.
Well, considering what I’ve been through this year, why don’t I like the pink campaign? Like many of my BC sisters we realize how this disease has been commercialized and glossed over by corporations, well one in particular.
Though Susan G Koman has done some great things for breast cancer awareness, still over 20 million per year goes to “administrative expenses”, and 40% of the money raised goes towards “educational programs”. Educate about what? I have yet to see something from them regarding lifestyle changes that women need to make to reduce the risks of breast cancer. The only educational programs I’ve seen have been pretty much advertising.
Look up products with the “pink ribbon” and its pretty funny: KFC Chicken (yes a food that you really shouldn’t be eating if you’re looking to reduce your risk of cancer), pizza boxes, Mike’s Hard Pink Lemonade (???), and then the products such as pens, staplers, even a hair dryer. Are you fucking kidding me, a hair dryer?!?!?! What do most BC survivors have in common? Oh that’s right, we’ve gone through chemo and have no hair! Even Ulta’s cover this month for it’s catalog had the pink ribbon. This month’s catalog got a snicker from me and I tossed it in the recycling bin without even a glance (it had the pink ribbon on the cover along with Katie Holmes announcing their Gorgeous Hair Event for the month of October). And it goes on and on.
Komen owns the Pink Ribbon and anything associated with it, they even think they own the words “for the cure” and even “cure”. Any charity that tries to raise funds using those words will get sued. Nice, huh? Part of the donations to this charity go to lawsuits to stop other charities from raising funds.
That’s just part of my reasons. Then there’s the fact that the whole pink ribbon campaign pretty much ignores stage IV and metastic cancer. There’s the talk about the “Survivors” and almost no discussion about those that will never survive breast cancer. They will live with it on drugs to slow down it’s progression, but never stop it. Metastatic means that they will eventually die from the disease, they just don’t know when. Someone can live years with metastatic cancer. I know two women living with it now. It’s not all pretty pink ribbons and hoo-rah-rah. 20 – 30% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will have a metastatic recurrence. That’s a terrible cloud to have looming over you and something that the pink campaign ignores. It takes away from the cheery picture of being a survivor.
If instead of spending so much money on awareness they’d spend more of that money funding research then many of us would have more respect for the organization. Really, who doesn’t know about breast cancer and getting regular mammograms and doing self checks? They don’t need to advertise the disease.
All the pinking takes away from the attention that we should give to the other cancers. More women die from Lung cancer every year than Breast Cancer. More men and women die from lung cancer every year than all other cancers combined. You have a 1 in 2 chance of developing cancer in your lifetime and a 1 in 4 chance of dying from it. Sounds grim, but the reality is that most of it comes from living to an older age.
Others have different takes as to why they don’t like the pink ribbon campaign. It does seem to have gotten out of hand. Having gone through a year of crap from the disease makes you more aware of the ridiculous amount of pink products out there.
For those that want to donate to cancer research, I recommend the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org). Five years ago I signed up CPS-3 Study. Hopefully with data gathered they can guide researchers into areas of focus and study. That is truly searching for a cure.
On a different note, an update. Next moth I’m up for surgery again. This time with my plastic surgeon. It’s an outpatient procedure and hopefully I won’t need to take any real time off from work. I’m looking forward to getting more back to a new normal. My hair is growing back and I went out to last Saturday hat-less and wig-less for the first time since I lost my hair I’m feeling a lot better and my energy level is back up. I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine.