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?
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?
Confused about vaccines?
Get our FREE no-nonsense vaccine guide. Answer your questions with rational, fact-based information instead of fear.