October/Pinktober thoughts and feelings, by Judy

Well, the month of October/Pinktober is almost over, and I’ve survived it. I suppose it would have been an easier month if I didn’t spend a good part of it wondering if those “slightly high tumor level markers” were a fluke or really mean a possible recurrence. I still don’t know, and was told that the earliest I should call is tomorrow, hoping that the test has gone through all the necessary steps and I get my results.

Waiting. It’s hard.

I come towards the end of the month with very mixed feelings about Pinktober, and if I ever get really into the book I have checked out, Pink Ribbons, Inc., I might be able to get a better handle on what I think and feel about all of this pink.

I realize that most of the pink that happens around this month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), is to spread awareness about breast cancer, or more correctly, breast cancers, as there is more than one kind of breast cancer. On the other hand, even the beginnings of making October NBCAM were wrought with disconnectedness and mixed messages if you look past the obvious goal of breast cancer awareness.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), founded in 1985 by Zeneca (now AstraZeneca), a multinational pharmaceutical corporation and then subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries, is possibly the most highly visible and familiar manifestation of this alliance. AstraZeneca is the manufacturer of tamoxifen, the best-selling breast cancer drug, and until corporate reorganization in 2000 was under the auspices of Imperial Chemical, a leading producer of the carcinogenic herbicide acetochlor, as well as numerous chlorine and petroleum-based products that have been linked to breast cancer. Source: Pink Ribbons, Inc., pages xx-xxi

So even the beginning of trying to make breast cancer a cause is problematic when you look in-depth at its history.

Is does seem to be THE cause, the cause that grass roots organizations, charities, and companies, can all use. It’s safe. It’s not like AIDS which is still associated with gay and/or unprotected sex or tainted needles. It’s not like lung cancer which people attribute to smoking — and while smoking is a big cause of lung cancer, some people contract lung cancer without ever having smoked at all. Breasts are certainly easier to talk about than prostates, testicles, livers, colons, rectums, kidneys, blood, and so many other types of cancer that don’t get their fair due. The leading cause of death to cancer is actually lung cancer. Colon and rectal cancer is second, followed by breast cancer in third place. Cancer (of all kinds) is the second leading cause of death in women; heart disease is the first.

Still, it’s hard to complain about people becoming aware of breast cancer. It does make me sound like a Pinktober b*tch.

I don’t want to be that person. I have a real disconnect myself with Pinktober, maybe especially this month as I’m spending three weeks overall waiting for blood test results that will tell me if I may have a recurrence of my cancer, if my miracles have run out . . . at least for the time being.

I think in some ways the pink ribbon movement has taken on a life of it’s own, and it can be difficult for someone like me to be bombarded by pink pink pink all month long, well knowing that some companies give money to breast cancer organizations, some give very little money but use Pinktober mainly as a marketing device, and there are still others that make merchandise pink “to raise awareness” and never have any intention of raising money for the cause.

That’s why Think Before You Pink is such a good organization — it alerts people about what to think about before buying a pink/pink ribbon product. Perhaps more important, it educates people about pinkwashing, pink products that actually do more harm than good in the fight against breast cancer.

I really don’t want to be a Pinktober b*tch, though I think I’ve held that position very well this month. It’s been a difficult month for me, though, so any slack cut me is much appreciated. I do appreciate those who are trying to get the message across in whatever way — friends who have made their Facebook photos pink, others who have waved (or held high) the pink ribbon, sports teams who have worn pink in tribute to those suffering with breast cancer, and many others who have only the best intentions with using pink to get the word out.

I do take issue, however, with companies who use it as a marketing tool . . . and many do. I like the companies who give 100% of their profits from an item, like Ford does with Warriors in Pink. That is something I can get behind.

Other than that, you can pink things up for awareness, but I also strongly urge people to simply donate money to a breast cancer cause, particularly one that is involved in researching the disease, not simply bringing awareness to the disease.

As for me? — have I put my money where my mouth/fingers are? Yes, I actually have, but I’m not here to brag about how much money I’ve donated to the cause. I’m simply hoping that pink goes beyond a color and dollars get donated to helping treat and most importantly, find a cure.

And while we’re at it, let’s support research for other cancers as well.
Cross-posted to Just Enjoy Him.


3 Responses to October/Pinktober thoughts and feelings, by Judy

  1. […] And while we’re at it, let’s support research for other cancers as well. _____________________________________________________ Cross-posted to Mothers With Cancer. […]

  2. Liane says:

    Very well said. And how about other forms of giving. I donated my gently used wig to our local Canadian Cancer Society this month so that another woman dealing with treatment of any kind of cancer can feel a little better about the whole ordeal. Felt a whole lot better than buying some more questionable pink crap.

  3. […] at Just Enjoy Him, I used to get into the pink, and at Mothers With Cancer: October/Pinktober Thoughts and Feelings – […]

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