My First Pink October…

…after having breast cancer and reconstruction. What a change in perspective. All the pink makes me want to puke. Not P!nk the artist, whom I adore, but the color pink that has been co-opted as a fund-raising tool. There is nothing wrong with fund-raising for a cancer that will impact 1 in every 8 American women. (Remember that lung cancer still is the number one cancer killer of women, and most cases are preventable.) The problem is where do those $$ go? For what purpose? Read the not-so-fine print and you will see that proceeds go to “breast cancer awareness month” without designated organizations or what amount of your donation actually goes to the cause.

Also, you should consider that if you want to “give to breast cancer” – what aspect of breast cancer? Prevention, screening, treatment, research? Prevention of any type of cancer is a tough issue to deal with. There is rarely one factor that causes cancer. Even women with strong genetic susceptibility to breast cancer will not all develop the disease. Women who lead the most healthy lifestyles can get cancer. (Fat, post-menopausal women are at higher risk, sigh.) Women who lead more unhealthy lifestyles might never get cancer. Screening – many women have no access to mammograms, which have their own problems with false negatives and false positives. Treatment – women with metastatic disease clamor for more effective drugs and rightfully so.  My little ol’ Stage 0 cancer is now 20% of new breast cancers yet we still don’t know which ones will progress and which could sit forever in the ducts never causing any problems. This is after more than 20 years of well-designed randomized controlled trials. So, we all get the same recommendation and many of us opt for aggressive treatment, and some of us (OK, me) who have lost 140 pounds know that the standard of care would leave devastating cosmetic results, so we opt to lop off our breasts. Research – certainly more is needed but how much more profit do pharmaceutical companies need, and who is to say what amount of profit is too much?

Many others have written much more eloquently about these issues. I will just leave you with a few images that I shot at the grocery store yesterday. But first, be sure to purchase your favorite firearm in pink this month. Leave ‘em laughing at the range.

Pink handgun

Walther P-22

yogurt

"Give hope with every cup" WTH?

Think pink when you pee

Think pink when you poo

Pink paper products everywhere!

Don't forget the babies

Or the pets!

My favorite stethoscope brand sells out

At the check out counter when the clerk asked if I wanted to donate, it was all I could do to stop myself from saying, “I already gave my breasts to cancer.”

11 thoughts on “My First Pink October…

  1. I know it bothers me sometimes that all these companies are hitching a ride on the pink bandwagon. I hate to see people’s pain used for their profit. I comfort myself with the idea that hopefully SOME money is getting where it needs to go and at the very least it’s gotten women thinking about their boobs other than their size and if they need plastic surgery. Around here in Dallas foobs are VERY common, even in very young women. All you say in this post is unfortunately too true, but hey…….at least we’re talking about it.

    Pink hand gun……..oh hell no……..somebody needs to be smacked.

    • Dallas is synonymous with foobs! My sister-in-law (I love her – everyone does!) has the best set ever. She says the only thing good from her first husband was her boobs ;-)

      And you are so right that women need to be aware. I realize that I am at the peak of cynicism right now – wearing a bra 24/7 doesn’t help.

  2. This is such a brilliant post! You’ve said so many things I’ve been thinking but didn’t know HOW to say or even IF I should say them, since I haven’t had breast cancer. I do, however, have breasts (small though they may be), and I resent their continued health being dependent on how many people buy pink-packaged products. I would really like one company to issue a press release to this effect: “Instead of spending $XX million changing our production line to pink for one month and developing annoying ad campaigns, we’re just going to make a direct donation to {insert organization here}. You don’t even have to buy anything. We’re going to do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

    Ooh, I’m ranting. Sorry, but it felt good to get that off my, er, chest. :)

  3. Jan, I’m so glad you started blogging. You say what needs to be said.

    I hate that a cancer diagnosis automatically seems to come with a ribbon color. Like, what the hell do I care about that…my grandmother has pancreatic cancer?!? (Or had, anyway) Same for when my mom was diagnosed. I had a couple of well-meaning bloggers try and figure out what color my mother’s cancer was…sigh. And also? I loathe it when the checkers ask you to donate to whatever cause as you’re checking out – I know I come across as a jerk, but I always say no. It just rubs me the wrong way. I like your unsaid response. :)

    Academy puts out an entire Sunday ad with all the pink crap you can buy. Now, I like pink, but get turned off from all of the pink bandwagon crap in October. I think Cammy has a great idea on what the companies should do. But they won’t – they all drank the (pink lemonade-flavored) Kook Aid.

  4. This was a perfect post and well said Jan. I have been bothered by the same things but didn’t want to say anything to anyone for fear of coming across as uncaring or rude. I have had several friends and mother’s of friends who have had breast cancer as well as members of my church. Safeway grocery store is always asking customers as you check out if you want to donate to some cause. This month the entire store is PINK!

    Cammy has a great idea, perhaps she should start a grass roots campaign for that and we can all join in – only one problem is their any color left to choose for our ribbon?

  5. I go through various stages of charitableness. My favorite organization is the Salvation Army — and I’m not even religious. My Dad came from a family of nine kids and they were very poor. My Dad said that the Salvation Army always helped them when they needed a hand — they didn’t ask you to pray with them, or believe in what they believed, and they didn’t judge you — they just helped. I love that. I agree with your nausea about many of the organizations that want donations for cancer research. Here’s a couple of sites you can use to check out charities before making donations:

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/

    http://www.givewell.org/

  6. I hate Pinktober, too! Just when I was feeling healthy and normal and running 9 miles with my friend Rachel this morning, we ran past a fountain with the water dyed pink. UGH. Do I really need a reminder that it’s Pinktober and that I got this thing that completely changed my self-identity and the way other people see me? Argh, drives me nuts! Just when I feel normal, along comes October to remind me that I still need to get through rads and that I will probably feel this resentment every year around this time from now on…

    Natters

  7. When the pink thing started – what is it? About 15 years ago? It was so great to get awareness increased and helped people talk about something they didn’t talk about. But year after year it just gets more ridiculous. I agree with you. And seeing the football players with pink shoes? Geez. I agree – just choose an organization, send them the money and then make a big deal about having done it – but all the marketing just cheapens the issues.

  8. I don’t wear pink (for my sister, aunts and both grannys BC) nor do I really purchase pink. I *do* attend conferences, read research and share my story as much as I can, though.

    My own little middle finger to the Establishment.

  9. Great Post! I think you mentioned alot of things that weigh heavily on my mind :) I always wondered instead of making a pink wallet, marketing the wallet, and selling it on behalf of breast cancer are they really making more money? Wouldn’t the value of the cost of the wallet plus charitable donations add up to more?

  10. This was my first “Pinktober” too. It sucks! But I am thrilled to see so many bloggers taking on the bastardization of pink. Your post is terrific.

    The only way to deflate the pink fluff is for us all to keep talking about it and posting about it. Change will come. I am certain of it.

    -Renn

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