October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That’s right, the month where everything turns pink to promote “awareness.”
At this point, who isn’t aware of the existence of breast cancer?
I know what you’re thinking. “Megan, it’s not just about awareness. It’s about raising money for breast cancer causes.”
What causes? Where does the money go when you buy that pink water bottle? Most likely, the majority of the funds go right into some corporation’s pockets. From Breast Cancer Action:
EXAMPLE: In 2010, Dansko shoe company sold pink ribbon clogs. Consumers likely thought that a portion of their purchase of pink ribbon clogs went to a breast cancer program. However, purchase of the pink ribbon clogs was not connected to Dansko’s donation—none of the portion of the sales went toward their already set donation of $25,000 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. No matter whether or not you bought the clogs, their donation was the same.
But hey, it raises awareness, right?
And actually, I don’t think we are properly aware of breast cancer. Think about it. Who are you seeing in all of the ads supporting women with breast cancer? Lots of bald women smiling and wearing pink boas. Women wearing t-shirts saying “Yes, they’re fake, the real ones tried to kill me.” And you know what? These women rock. Because they got breast cancer and they survived. My mom is one of them (though she owns neither a pink boa nor one of those t-shirts).
But we don’t talk about the women with metastatic breast cancer. The ones who won’t “beat” their disease. My aunt was one of them. She went through a myriad of treatments, but ultimately, the disease was stronger than all of the drugs we had to throw at it. But we don’t talk about that.
We don’t talk about women like Lisa Adams, who is blogging through her breast cancer treatments and just trying to live life to the fullest. We don’t talk about Vanessa, who died at 32, having lost herself after the cancer invaded her brain and whose sisters continue to blog about life and loss. Because their stories won’t have the happy, inspirational ending that we all want to see. It’s sad and messy and it’s what we should be working to stop.
We’re not trying to “Save the Ta-tas,” people. We’re trying to save the women and men who have breast cancer.
So don’t mindlessly go out and buy some pink ribbon products and feel proud that you’ve done something good. Don’t admire a corporation for “going pink.” Avoid the distractions and focus on the issues. We need research. We need access to treatment for all women, not just those with “good” insurance. We need a way to increase survival rates.
This month, don’t bring awareness to the pink ribbon. Bring awareness to the realities of breast cancer.