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Why I’m Not Going Pink This Month

admin October 1, 2013

It’s October first, which means…Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Everything is going to be swathed in pink.

I appreciate the sentiment behind it.  Women want to support other women who have been struck by this terrible illness.  They want to find a cure, so their mothers, sisters, and friends do not have to go through this anymore.  It’s noble, to want to be a part of something bigger than yourself that can help others.  When you’re battling something as ugly as cancer, or someone close to you is, you want to do whatever it takes to get rid of it.

The problem is, the pink campaign isn’t the answer, at least in my opinion.

The Problem With Pink

It’s become a cultural icon, that pink ribbon.  It’s become a sign of strength, a sign of hope.  But…is it, really?

The pink ribbon is so huge that everyone’s jumping on board.  This is a problem, to me.  It’s muddying the issue.   It’s becoming an excuse to profit.  Companies that have unhealthy products are turning out pink versions of their products so they can donate a small amount of money to a cause.  KFC donated about $0.50 per bucket of chicken, which sell for around $8.  More people will buy to “support a good cause” and KFC earns lots of extra money.  It’s not altruism on the part of these companies.

Not to mention that these companies are not producing healthy items.  MSG-laced fried chicken?  Alcohol?  Other junk food?  It seems absolutely anything can be labeled in pink, because the name of the game is profit, not helping!

What the companies do with the money can be suspect too.  I touched on that in “Why I Don’t Support Cure Cancer Foundations.”

Not Awareness, Prevention

When we’re talking about battling cancer, I think that we need to talk about the reasons why cancer occurs.  In many cases, it isn’t just luck of the draw or roll of the dice.  Cancer doesn’t develop “just because.”  Rates have skyrocketed over the last 100 years and are now hovering around 50%.  Half the population can expect to get cancer at some point in their lives!

That’s just not normal.  But, we can argue that obviously, everyone is aware of cancer.  Awareness is not the problem.

What we need to be talking about is prevention.  Why can’t we talk about foods that increase risk…or decrease it?  About using personal care products (like aluminum-containing anti-perspirants) that can increase risk?  There are so many aspects of our modern day life that can increase cancer risk.

We don’t want to talk about these.  We don’t want to go through the uncomfortable ideas that we might need to make some changes to keep ourselves healthier.  (Yes, healthier, because nothing we do can entirely prevent illness, even cancer.)  In many cases, we don’t even want to believe in these.  The research isn’t conclusive.  It’s too preliminary.  It was poorly done.  There’s no way that our modern lifestyle could possibly have anything to do with cancer rates.

That’s just sad!  That’s a sad attitude.  And I want to talk about it.  I want to talk about how and why cancer happens, as best we know.  I want to talk about what we can do to decrease our chances of getting it.  I want to talk about why a healthy diet matters.  Why avoiding unnecessary medicine matters.  And why exercise matters.  Why it all matters.

People who are close to me have had cancer.  And we’ve had these conversations, privately, about what might have gone wrong.  About what to do next.  One of my friends beat breast cancer and did it without chemo or radiation.  I want to talk about that too (in general — that cancer treatment can be non-toxic).  Why can’t we talk about any of these things?

Being Real

Instead of going pink this month and trying to be part of a larger cause, full of women who mean well, I’m going to talk about the real stuff.  I’m going to talk about ways to really support women, on a community level.  I’m going to talk about healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce risk.  I’m going to talk about what it’s been like for real women that have been through it…and come out on the other side.

Going pink just doesn’t fit in with that.

I fully understand why people support pink, especially if they or close friends or family have been through cancer.  They want to help.  Want to do something.  They want to show support.  And that’s a good thing.

I would encourage everyone to think outside of pink this month, though.  Think about how to help someone in your life in a more personal way.  Make them a meal, take care of their children, be their shoulder to cry on.  Step outside of pink and be there.

Will you be going pink this month?

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41 Comments

  1. Can you elaborate or talk about the non-toxic ways of beating cancer? Or a link? Thanks.

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  2. Well said. Excellent post!

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  3. Good post. Even though PINK is my favorite color it has nothing to do with this money making scheme. I just love PINK.

    When I read a year or so ago how much money was being raised for the breast cancer awareness it was amazing. But how much really goes to help cancer? Big salaries take a big chunk for sure.

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  4. I could not have said it better! Thanks for stepping out there and showing the real issue here! PREVENTION is the answer!

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  5. Wonderful post and I agree 100% that there needs to be a huge prevention push. The reason its never talked about is because the big major sponsors (Avon, Mary Kay, etc) use cancer causing chemicals in their products, so unbelievably hypocritical!
    My husband was diagnosed with Leukemia two years ago and ever since then I have poured myself into researching environmental toxins and how to avoid them. Recently started a blog and just posted 31 cancer prevention tips for Breast Cancer Awareness Month – one for each day of October. Hope you’ll check it out at http://www.ourgreenjellybean.blogspot.com

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  6. My mother and her 4 sisters all have had breast cancer. A lot of my cousins have had breast or stomach cancer, which is tied together so how. I have had no evidents of any type of cancer. But I have different circomstances. I had a complete hystorctomy at 22. Never smoked, eat as healthy as I can. I am 64 and so far so good. I give God all the glory.

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  7. Very well said! I couldn’t agree with you more. Thank you for speaking up and writing about this topic. Looking forward to your upcoming posts!

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  8. I love this blog post. It’s great perceptive on the topic and I agree with you 100%!

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  9. Thanks for saying this to the world! Maybe you will enlighten some, or even many. I’m a breast cancer survivor (diagnosed 12 years ago last month, when I was 28), and I cringe when the pink onslaught hits every October. A money-making scheme indeed. Even more than that, the organizations that receive the donations are NOT acting in the best interest of women (they support, promote, and even fund abortions, which are a major risk factor for breast cancer; they support the recommendation that women wait until they’re 50 to start getting mammograms, to name just a couple of major issues I have with them).

    An issue close to my heart. I wish the pink products would just go away, and that fundraisers would truly profit one thing and one thing only: finding a cure/preventive for breast cancer.

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  10. I will not be going pink either!

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  11. Great post. I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve also recently heard some negative information about some of the big name breast cancer research foundations that makes me even more hesitant to jump on the pink campaign.

    I did want to mention, however, that there are some really great “pink” campaigns. I have some friends who participate in something called “Barbells for Boobs.” It is a fundraiser which, I believe, is sponsored by the fitness program Crossfit. All of the participants, male an female, wear flamboyant pink outfits while they lift weights They don’t do it to raise awareness of breast cancer, but rather to provide funding to encourage and help women to have breast cancer screenings, which I think is far more productive than wearing pink.

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  12. I totally agree with this article. I had breast cancer 10 years ago, had a mastectomy and four more operations, due to complications — involving painful skin grafts as well. I did not need chemo or radiation, and eventually, got better. Then last spring, I was diagnosed with cancer in the remaining breast — I had a lumpectomy, and just finished a series of 33 radiation treatments. They treated me well, and tried to make an unpleasant experience bearable, but the fact still remains that I had to do it. Now, I will go on one of the anti-cancer drugs, and because I already am on permanent disability due to arthritis and other problems, I dread the side effects. If the cancer comes back again, in whatever spot it chooses to appear, it will mean chemo next time. My original bill in 2003, including all four surgeries that I had to have, hit $144,000.000….. Insurance took care of 80%, but I had to pay the rest, not to mention my insurance under United Healthcare zoomed up to almost $2,000.00/month. We ended up filing bankruptcy and losing our original home. This time, since I am on SSD and Medicare, and have high-risk insurance, my coverage is much improved…. the bills came to around $60,000. this time. I guess if you can’t afford your cancer, you just have to go quietly away and die! Anyway, I am still angry about the whole business…. a cure for cancer will never be “found”….. it’s just too PROFITABLE, for all concerned. The cancer”industry” generated eleven BILLION dollars last year — does anyone seriously think they are trying all that hard to find a CURE??

    Reply

  13. I was just talking to my daughter about this today. I know people truly want to be loving and giving and help others, but this just increases profits for businesses. Unfortunately, I believe cancer is not going to be cured by big businesses. I believe cancer organizations often spend the money on salaries and administration. I would rather see efforts being made to actually cure the illness through exploring all possible options; not just allopathic medicine. Thank you!

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  14. We don’t go pink. To us it is very sexist and close minded that women with breast cancer are the only ones that matter. What about the children with cancer? What about men? What about women with ovarian cancer? One cancer should not be singled out like this.

    I agree that it is all for profit and that also bugs us, but not as much as one cancer being singled out.

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    • You said exactly what I wanted to say!

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    • Not going pink either! Everyone focuses on pink and breast cancer awareness (which is important) but why don’t companies do the same for pediatric cancer awareness in September? Where are the gold ribbons, gold lids on yogurt, gold work out equipment, gold shirts, gold shoes and gloves on NFL players in September? Way too many kids die from cancer because they don’t get the same funding and awareness as breast cancer does…pediatric cancer only gets pennies. Breast cancer gets thousands!

      Reply

    • I agree 100 %. I had a phone call from a woman seeking a donation for breast cancer. I declined. She then said” Don’t you have any compassion for your fellow women”? I then told her I didn’t appreciate her comment. I told her I have had two different kinds of cancer and what about those. Did she have any compassion for me? Was she going to donate to those types? She mumbled I’m sorry and hung up.

      I had a friend who had breast cancer and was a member on a breast cancer dragon boat team. She wanted me to be on the team and I wasn’t allowed because my cancers weren’t breast cancer.

      Breast cancer has been singled out and elevated above all others. I am sorry but I won’t be wearing or buying pink.

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      • Suzanne,

        Oh my! That’s sad that she would say that to you. 🙁 Glad you responded though! And you’re right, it’s not fair to single out just one type of cancer, or one subset of people this way.

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  15. Your article is well written and obviously from someone who has not been through the raveges of cancer. While I agree that companies can make money off of Pink Ribbon Awareness….they are also donating money for research. To elude to the fact that going pink k is not being real is just pure ignorance. I am currently a breast cancer patient…and have always supported Pink Ribbon Awareness ….supporting does not mean donating money….it means just that supporting. You obviously have not had to use the resources available through Susan G Komen….without them the last few months I do not know what my family would have done. I agree we should all reach beyond the pink and do something for others in need but downplaying the awareness and research this campaign brings is not the answer either

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  16. Thank you for articulating exactly how I feel, but better than I could have written. Awareness, like you said, isn’t finding a cure or preventing. Prevention as best as we can as humans is the key and leave the rest up to the Lord.

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  17. I agree with you that cancer has become a money making business. I went for a mammogram and made the mistake of telling them an aunt had breast cancer and even though she was told it was NOT hereditary, it was a rare form that was unlikely to strike anyone else in our family, they insisted I had an area that was suspect. They sent me for a second mammogram. They then said it was a normal duct, but needed to be watched and they wanted to x-ray it every 6 months. I had just read a medical journal article that stated new studies are showing excessive radiation is causing cancer. Needless to say, I refused to pay $90 every 6 months for fibrocystic breasts, which is not indicative of cancer. Will I have it checked again, maybe. I WILL continue to eat healthy, exercise, and do my monthly self exams, but I won’t be doing mammograms every 6 months!

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  18. Wonderful sentiment. I love the idea of using cancer awareness to promote HEALTH, not profit.

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  19. My sister does mammograms and did not know about deoderants with aluminum increasing risk of breast cancer. She just bought some for her 8 yr old. I told her before, but she said she has never heard that. We need more education for prevention reaching all people. Cancer, including breast cancer, doesn’t know race, gender, sex, or even age in some cases. Thank you for writing this article.

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  20. Bravo. An unpopular, yet necessary message. I’m impressed.

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  21. I will absolutely be going pink. My mom died of breast cancer 2.5 years ago. To me, it’s more about funding the programs that reaearch the cancer along with the programs that support cancer patients with gas money, hospital shuttles, gift cards for co-pays, the counseling sessions and the general knowledge that this is a top killer than it is worrying about KFC making a few extra bucks. The pink veggie peeler that says proceeds benefit cancer research will win over the plain black one from the same company in my book. Not everyone can focus on preventing cancer, unless we stay in a bubble which would probably also cause cancer.

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    • Hi Jen,

      I understand your reasons for going pink! Sorry for your loss. 🙁

      One issue I didn’t mention in the post is that these foundations do not offer you any help unless you go the traditional chemo-and-radiation route. Someone who opts for natural treatments does not get any help. And they need it just as much.

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  22. I will be “going purple” for Domestic Violence Awareness. I think DVA is just as important, and it kind of gets thrown under the bus to Breast Cancer Awareness. More power to the “Pink” though!!

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  23. I’ve read several of your posts Kate and I would like to know just how did such a young woman get so smart?!!! 🙂 Keep voicing your opinions and ideas, you’re not alone in thinking this way!

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  24. Amen! Did you see this article on the Natural Society’s website about the American Cancer Society and Big Pharma?

    http://naturalsociety.com/american-cancer-society-bed-major-cancer-drug-makers/

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  25. Yes!!! I completely agree! It seems so unfair that companies can play with emotions of consumers and just slap the pink ribbon on whatever. Its also unfair that cancer is such a big money-maker, which is – in sure – the reason people talk about awareness instead of prevention. Very well written!

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  26. Hi! One of my friends shared this post with me a couple days ago and I’ve been thinking about it. I wrote this post in reply to yours: “To Kate: Why Going Pink This Month Means So Much.”

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    • Thanks for your response.

      About businesses profiting and donating, I’m not convinced that much of that money really goes towards a worthy cause. I think a lot of it pays the salaries of people who run the charities, and that a lot of the research being done isn’t particularly helpful — it’s exploring genetic causes and new chemo drugs, and not ways to prevent cancer in the first place.

      Mammograms are not a part of “prevention.” They are detection. They do nothing to stop cancer from happening.

      Yes, I have a problem with stores profiting from Easter/Christmas and we don’t typically shop there for holidays. We buy nothing or we look at thrift stores, and we keep things small and focused on the real meaning of the season.

      You’re absolutely welcome to your opinion and I hope that you help to spread awareness this month. 🙂

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  27. I agree with you on a lot of this. I don’t understand cancer “awareness.” Who in the heck is not AWARE of cancer!?! Plus all the pink makes my husband mad because his mother died of ovarian cancer and it makes him feel like nobody cares about that one.

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  28. What’s worse are the statistics about how many women are mistakenly diagnosed with breast cancer and.or the fact that many small lumps, cysts, etc. would go away on their own given time or just never progress. Trouble is doctors don’t know which is which and once something is spotted on a mammogram (the radiation from which may actually cause cancer) it is hard to stop the inevitable treatment process. Mammograms can also squish and open contained cysts and biopsies spread malignant but otherwise contained cells when the needle is pulled out.
    An interesting and important article on the subject: http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/confirmed-more-mammograms-you-get-more-harm-they-do

    There are many people who are going to physicians who have successfully treated (cured) cancers using natural diets. Since this is not a real moneymaker for anyone we won’t be reading about this in the mainstream media any time soon.

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  29. http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/huckabee/index.html#http://video.foxnews.com/v/2730157946001/new-cancer-treatment-targets-cancer-with-few-side-effects/?playlist_id=86920 Have you heard of the Noreen Fraser foundation? I love that they totally focus on funding research and she personally checks out each project they fund. Very cool!

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  30. Thanks for an excellent post! You put into words my sentiments about going pink. My family is no stranger to breast cancer and it is a truly awful thing to have, but you’re absolutely right– awareness is no longer the issue! It drives me crazy to see things like the 5-hr Energy Drink swathed in pink! That is totally missing the point, in my opinion.

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  31. katy as a breast cancer survivor I have to say this does not settle well with me. I believe it is a fine line to suggest cancer was caused by something the patient did or didn’t do. or that they should our shouldn’t do chemo and radiation. each person needs to decide for themselves. I know I would not be here today without them. It is such a hard thing to go through. I am so thankful for the past 11 years. 11 years my mother didn’t have( i was diagnosed at the exact same age as my mother 34) she lost her battle, partly because research had not come along to know what it was early enough, she didn’t know she was genetically inclined. I am tremendously thankful for the surgeon, doctors, the 6 months of chemo and 30 radiation treatments that saved my life. I too believe this month and its silly pink is encouraging to survivors. sure companies profit, but awareness is raised and those small donations go to research that can save more lives. just the thoughts of a survivor who appreciates all the pink. I was also diagnosed the year MOA was lit up pink. It made me cry. I felt supported in my battle, that a community cared. as a woman of Faith it is a bit disconcerting to made to feel because of the path I chose and the way I was Healed that God was not in it or for it as much as if I had gone Natural. God had given us a great gift in the states of a medical systems and options that each can choose their path. but one is not more intrinsically “good” or “of God” more than another. this is a theological line that I think is being crossed farm too much these days. Your post is All over… be careful sister.

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    • Kate this is copied from a post by a friend and sister on Facebook. that is why it is addressed to Katy.. so similar though. I do believe that alternative or natural therapies are a great compliment to any cancer treatment regime. absolutely.

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  32. Persticides, GMO, hormone imbalances caused by toxins … so many factors contribute to cancer ! I agree I will not wear the pink ribbon either.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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