Think Pink or See Red?
Want to know something about me? Oh, I’ll tell you anyway! It takes a lot to make me angry. My kids know this, and they know when I’m really mad, I mean business. So here’s something that makes me really, Mr. McGee, you wouldn’t like me, angry. I learned a couple of years ago that many companies use pink in October not to underwrite breast cancer research, but to get people to buy their stuff because people care about breast cancer.
Sure they give 1-5% to “Awareness,” but as our shops, websites, and grocery store check-out line is full of pink merchandise for an entire month, I hardly think there’s a person with two eyes who dwells above the rocks that is unaware of breast cancer. Additionally, there are some companies that give NOTHING at all, and those are just scams. That’s sick and wrong, but it’s easy with the great pink wave that hits every October.
But, I’ve been aware of breast cancer since I was eleven years old when one of our best family friends was going through chemo. Dona was like an aunt to us, and I was highly aware of this terrible disease when she died in her mid thirties and left two little girls behind. Breast cancer cast a non-pink shadow in my life again two years later when our church secretary Doris (a woman who bought the eighth graders donuts when we helped her stuff bulletins for church) also died. Then one of my Sunday School teachers, Joanne, died from breast cancer when I was in my twenties.
My “awareness” was pretty well set by the time Jim’s mom was diagnosed a couple of years ago. Explaining to my kids why Grandma lost her hair was hard when they knew that my dad had died of cancer. Cancer is scary. Cancer SUCKS – we’re all aware of that. I was aware enough to get a mammogram earlier this year when I had a large lump. Turn s out it was just a hormonal knot (YAY), but aware I am. Aren’t we all highly aware?
What I want now is not awareness for breast cancer but a cure for it. Which brings me to my friend/hero Heather, mom to four little girls, who beat breast cancer in the first episode of her cancer horror story. Now the villain is back for the sequel. That’s the thing about cancer, even if you get rid of it, just like that bastard Freddy Kruger, it can come back.
Heather and I are kindred spirits. We’re both writers and moms, and we are fighters. We fight different diseases; she’s on the battlefields of cancer and I’m combating CHD. Her war in on the domestic front of her own body and mine is running supply lines to my child. But we both fight these terrible diseases not just as patients or caregivers but as advocates for getting it right.
Heather doesn’t want you to be “aware” of breast cancer as I think we’ve already covered that. She wants a cure. She NEEDS A CURE! Cancer’s got it’s nasty claws out and she is about to fight for her life again. Heather doesn’t think pink, she thinks we need to focus on a cure for cancer. Heather wants to stick around and live another thirty seven years. She deserves to win this war. So, in honor of Heather, and Karen, and Donna, and Doris, and Jenny, and Amy and the millions of other women who need more than your purchase of a pink Kitchen Aid mixer or Chi hair straightener, just watch this and boom – you made money go to research. Yay you! You fought cancer without buying a single pink thing.
And if you’re tempted to buy something pink, instead send a check to a research institute (see below and notice who’s – cough-cough-Komen -missing because they mostly fund awareness and not nearly enough research). Then wear your pink in a rosy glow knowing you’re helping more than corporate sales, you’re helping fund a cure.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
The Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center
Amanda, you’ve articulated this BEAUTIFULLY!!! Thank you, thank you. We’re both heroes, and I LOVE the way you described heroism. Beautiful!!
I love it, Amanda. I love you, Heather.
Wow, Amanda, I had no idea those companies were simply making money and not sending it toward cancer research. I wonder why those companies haven’t been exposed and duly shamed.
I promise not to buy anything pink this month and will never support “pink cancer.”
I think this link has the best information for identifying and understanding this larger problem. I provided links for good research centers, but the next two give some idea of the problem. If the Pink campaign makes more profits for corporate partners than funds for research and screenings for women without health insurance, than it’s a failure. It’s kind of taunting poor women to expose them to so much awareness, and then if they find a lump they don’t have the means to be properly treated.
I just read this. It brought tears to my eyes when you mentioned my Mom. I never realized you thought of her as an aunt. She would have been honored to be your Aunt. She loved all of you so much. Thank you for bring attention to the fact that too many companies sell breast cancer merchandise but don’t actually donate the profits to research. It infuriates me. I rarely buy anything anymore unless I know the profits go to research.
I love you