Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I always have mixed feelings about October, when Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes around and the stores are a sea of pink. I think it is great that people are willing to spend a little extra or buy something specific to help raise money for breast cancer research, but it also irks me for two reasons. First of all, people are willing to throw so much support behind breast cancer, but what of other cancers?

Some of this comes from residual resentment from dealing with my mom’s death from lung cancer. She was diagnosed at stage IV, so things weren’t good, but it was so hard telling people. I would say she had lung cancer and the immediate response was almost always to ask me if she smoked. When I answered in the affirmative, there was this pause and a palpable strangeness in the air, when it seemed the questioner was fighting back the urge to say that she deserved it. It was awkward and horrible and didn’t make things any easier. But it was there. And that is probably why I’ve never seen a major fundraising campaign for lung cancer.

The other thing to think about when you buy these special pink products, is how much money is actually going to breast cancer research and what types of companies are sponsoring the initiatives. Think Before You Pink is a great website that outlines all of this and much more.  One of the things I love about this organization is that in 2008, they called out Yoplait on running that huge campaign with pink lids every year while continuing to use milk products containing rBGH, which has itself been linked cancer.  Yoplait, and subsequently Dannon, yogurt is now rBGH free. There is also detailed information on the website about pinkwashers, companies that make breast cancer awareness claims while continuing to produce products that are linked to cancer.

I have no issue with fundraising to fight breast cancer. As a woman, I am at risk for cancer, it runs in my family and I would sure like a cure. For everyone. Losing a parent to cancer sucks. I just dislike the marketing campaigns where they are luring someone in to buying a product to help cure cancer, when it is possible that only 5 cents of your purchase with a corporate cap of $10,000 might be the reality. And the corporation pulls in all of the good will. I would like to encourage transparency in marketing and fundraising and critical thinking when purchasing. And don’t get me started on Susan G Komen for the Cure getting in bed with KFC.

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One Response to “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”

  1. Meghan says:

    Agree 100%. It’s one thing if you buy the “pink” version of something you were going to buy anyway, but it doesn’t seem to occur to people that it would be much better to just donate the equivalent of the entire cost of a “pink” item they normally wouldn’t buy. I used to work at a chain coffee shop where 10% of the profits from a breast cancer awareness blend were donated. However…guess how much more this coffee cost compared to a standard bag of beans? Exactly 10%. Even worse, it’s named after one of their employees who died of breast cancer. So basically, they’re using the fact that one of their own died to line their pockets. It made me sick.

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