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Pink October

Posted 10/2/2014

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  Transitioning to a broader perspective on cancer does definitely not mean that there won't be some breast cancer specific posts in this blog. The beginning of October is a moment that just cannot be ignored. Yesterday, every single conversation in my office included unhappiness about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I received numerous emails from other women who were already upset re the onslaught of "information". See the comment on yesterday's post for a good example.

  Taking the broader view, there are also some very good reasons why people with other cancers can hate Pink October just as much as we do. First, if you are dealing with lung or pancreatic or colon or any other kind of cancer, it is quite reasonable to be angry about all the time and attention and, presumably, money being focused on another cancer. Remind yourself that much of the progress in cancer research and care goes not in a linear fashion, but from discoveries in one area being found to be very helpful, maybe more helpful, in others. Meaning: something originally studied for breast cancer may turn out to be much more important in the care of melanoma.

  Next, women with advanced breast cancer are very appropriately upset by all the focus on early detection. It is just plain not true that early detection=cure, and being somehow publicly shamed by not (even if you did) finding your cancer early enough to stay well surely adds more pain to an already horrible situation.

  Finally, whatever kind of cancer is in your life, you likely would like to take a break from it whenever possible. During October, cancer comes at you over the airwaves and the tv waves and the media and billboards and every where you look. To make it worse, with any thought, you quickly recognize how much of this is business and marketing-driven, that much/most of the money goes directly to corporate pockets, and that all these people don't really care about us, about you--they care about the money.

  From Breast Cancer Action in San Fransciso comes some of the best push back information. Here is a quote from their website and a link to read more:

Pink ribbon culture distracts from meaningful progress on breast cancer in six fundamental ways:
show you care be aware bagPink ribbon products spread empty awareness. “Awareness” has failed to address and end the breast cancer epidemic. Who isn’t aware of breast cancer these days? Pink ribbon trinkets on store shelves that promote “awareness” ultimately change nothing. We have more than enough awareness, but not nearly enough action that will make a significant difference to whether women get breast cancer or survive it. By making the public think “awareness” is the end goal, pink ribbon culture defuses anger about breast cancer and its devastating impact, and distracts us from the meaningful actions that will achieve health justice for us all. Oriental Trading, for example, is spreading empty awareness via its endless supply of plastic pink ribbon trinkets – the company pockets all the money from these sales!


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