By Elisabeth Dale
Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Surprising News
Whether you look forward to or are weary of the plethora of pink that marks October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one thing’s for sure: I can’t avoid it. It’s hard for me to walk through a store aisle, read a magazine, or surf the web without being asked to purchase a product or participate in some event in the name of “awareness.” Even opponents of “Pinktober” (as it has been dubbed by its critics) might be surprised to find that the Hard Rock Café has trademarked the term and has created a line of official merchandise under that brand.
Objections to this crass charitable commercialism have been building. Two books questioning their effectiveness, Pink Ribbons, Inc. and Pink Ribbon Blues, have been published in the past five years. Last year, the documentary, Pink Ribbons, Inc., scrutinized the big business of charitable giving, including where dollars are allocated and who is served. The Breast Cancer Action Fund dedicates a webpage on how consumers can “Think Before You Pink,” and offers a handy toolkit and questions one should ask before buying for the cause. More and more groups are demanding greater legislative action and more dollars dedicated to coordinated research.
Why? Because after 40 plus years of pink product sales and thousands of volunteer hours dedicated to mega-charitable events (Komen for the Cure being one of many) the number of women diagnosed and dying from breast cancer hasn’t changed much. Even this week’s big scientific breakthrough on the discovery of four separate breast cancers will take years, if not decades, to translate into new treatment therapies. One in 8 women continues to be diagnosed annually and mortality rates have not dropped significantly given the millions of dollars raised. But it has become profitable to slap pink ribbons onto questionable products and create non-profits that aren’t very charitable.
This October, the National Breast Cancer Coalition and Breast Cancer Action Fund want you to be “aware” of these facts. They urge voters to contact their lawmakers and demand a new approach to battling breast cancer. The BCA has an on-line petition you can email to your legislators. The NBCC has set a deadline of 2020 to find the cure. It may be time for these bold political campaigns in order to stop the epidemic that is breast cancer.
What do you think? Will you be participating in breast cancer awareness month by buying pink, or writing your legislator? Or both?