October is breast cancer awareness month, and I’m proud to say I’m an 11 year survivor. So as a survivor, you might be surprised to learn that I hate the pink ribbon. I have grown to despise the pink ribbon, in fact. The entire month of October has me doing whatever I can to stay out of the stores, shopping malls and even away from TV because all the pink ribbons that inundate us from every direction raise my blood pressure.
This phenomenon has a name: Pink-Washing.
I didn’t always despise this little symbol of breast cancer awareness. I used to wear it proudly and collected them in bulk at every breast cancer event, every cancer walk, as gifts and on clothing. It doesn’t; however, take much research to discover the ugly truth about that little pink ribbon.
When you go into the grocery store and see the pink mops, the pink reusable plastic ware, the pink ribbon lip balm, or the deodorant with the bright pink ribbon you throw it in your cart, thinking it’s helping the cause. Hell, you really don’t even need a mop and your lip balm in your purse is just fine, but it’s supporting breast cancer and we all want to see an end to breast cancer, right?
Well, yes – we want to see an end to cancer in its entirety, of course we do, but don’t be fooled into thinking your $14.98 for that mop does much for the cause. Have you ever read the labels on those products? Have you looked online to see exactly how much of that purchase price is actually going to breast cancer? Or any cancer? Usually there is no documentation anywhere about how much that company is donating. If there is that catch-all phrase “A portion of our proceeds goes to breast cancer research…” I’ll bet you fifty mops that you can’t find out exactly what “a portion” equals. These companies can never come up with a firm number or percentage of what goes to cancer, let alone to which research organization it goes to.
No, friends…the sad truth of the matter is that most manufacturers slap a pink ribbon on products just to boost their sales, to pad their bottom line, to prey on the good hearted, beautiful people, like yourselves who think they are doing a good thing but when it comes down to nuts and bolts, that poor little pink ribbon is being whored out like a 25 cent hooker in Tijuana.
I can hear the screams of these companies marketing departments right now “But….it’s about AWARENESS!”
Yeah, ok. Guess what? We’re aware. We’ve nailed awareness. You can’t tell me you….yes, you who’s reading this right now doesn’t have someone you love whose been diagnosed or maybe you yourself have been diagnosed, or at least had a scary close call. The national average says that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their life time, and that number is growing. Out of every case of breast cancer diagnosed each year 1% of those are men. Yes! Men can get breast cancer too. So please don’t tell me we aren’t aware. We’ve done it. Awareness is a success.
So where do you put your hard earned money? How about calling your local hospital or clinic and asking if you can pay for a mammogram for a patient who can’t afford it. My charity of choice is Pink Heals. This amazing organization travels across the country (here is the USA) with their pink fire trucks and police cruisers inviting cancer warriors and survivors to sign the trucks and cars, providing a crowd-drawing interest to special fund raising events and leaving monies donated with the event. They just ask for money to keep the trucks gassed up. The real firefighters donate their time, their vacation days and family time to hop on the trucks and travel across country to help with events for weeks at a time every year. There’s a waiting list of fire fighters waiting to hop on those trucks and don their pink turn-out gear and guard those brave warriors as they sign.
As a matter of fact, this is a picture of little old me getting to sign the truck back in 2009. Pretty cool, huh?
If you are really wanting to take a deep dive into which charity really packs the biggest punch with breast cancer, I recommend taking a stroll through the Charity Navigator. They will show you the best organizations to donate your money to help fight and help find a cure for breast cancer. Really folks, don’t just buy into the hype. Even the American Cancer Society can’t tell us where all their money goes to, how much is actually going to research and how much to patient support. Don’t even get me started on Susan G. Koman….that just sends me into a Hulk-Smash rage.
I have been a survivor for a good while now, and I founded a ran a breast cancer support group for almost 8 years in my community. I’ve met, spoken to and supported thousands of women (and a few men) who have battled breast cancer. Some won their battle, and sadly, some didn’t. I tell you this, because out of all those men and women I have yet to meet a single one who got one dime, dollar or even a phone call through to Susan G. Koman. NOT A SINGLE ONE! I know there is tons of hype about their race for a cure and they have raised probably billions of dollars. So how can it be that I’ve yet to meet a single solitary person who has ever been helped by them? That is a huge reason I dislike the pink ribbon because it’s the Susan G. Koman symbol.
Are you fighting mad yet? Are you shocked and surprised at all this information? If nothing else, I hope this makes a few of you flip that lip balm or deodorant over and read the fine print on how much, if any, proceeds are going to cancer, and where exactly it’s going. Simply contact the company and I’ll bet you dollars to donuts they won’t be able to tell you.
I can’t (and don’t want to) tell you where to put your hard earned dollars. You have to do what feels right to you. I just hope with this little blog of mine I have educated a few of you on what is really going on with all that Pink in the market place in October. Please be thoughtful about where you donate and feel free to share this blog far and wide to help put a damper on the deplorable, money hungry Pink-Washing that is Pinktober.