Monday, October 4, 2010

Thinking about pink

Last year breast cancer awareness month nearly overwhelmed me. My surgery was on October 13. In the weeks before, it felt like the world was conspiring to make me think about breast cancer 24-7. Even watching football was agony, why did every player, coach, and goal post have to be decked out in pink?

This year my feelings are more ambivalent.

I know some women float through the month on a pink cloud, lifted by the fact that so many people appear to care and be supporting a cure. I know others look at pink products and suspect that they are being exploited by promotions that only channel a tiny fraction of proceeds to breast cancer.

Personally I am somewhere in between.

There are times seeing a landmark lit in pink truly lifts my spirits. I got a lump in my throat when I saw the pink lights on the George Washington Bridge.

I have seen great work done by pink-pushing charities. I really enjoyed participating Komen's Race for the Cure. I know women for whom the pink stands as a sign of hope that they are not forgotten. And to be honest if anyone wanted to do all this for lymphedema, I would be overjoyed. Having an orphan illness is even harder than being the "flavor of the week."

This website is for everyone. Yes, our logo has a pink ribbon. Yes, we cover charity events that include a lot of pink. But I also try to give voice to women who have something else to say. Here is a post that has a very different point of view than my own.

Now on to the products. The best way to fight cancer is to give directly to a charity that funds research. Another option... do something in your community to help people with cancer.

When it comes to products, I have no problem with a company just making a straight up donation, instead of having some tiny fraction of products sold benefiting breast cancer charities.

York Peppermint Patties gives $250,000 to the Young Survival Coalition. Works for me. I can buy or not buy their candy. 

Some tie-ins are not so clear, and I hope corporations will re-think them and be more generous before using our suffering for seasonal sales.

So for this year I am at peace with pink, most of it at least. But if you can't wait for all the pink to go away...I've been there too.



  1. I commend you on this post as these thoughts are close to my own heart. Lymphoedema is a real issue for me with my cancer recurrence in the brachial plexus. Consequently I have many blockages in the neck and back region from both disease and treatment.
    I am ambivalent about research funds as I, personally, would like to see more done on cause and prevention rather than treatments after the horse has bolted.
    My thanks for a great blog.