Why I Don’t “Think Pink” in October

Right before October hits, we are absolutely inundated with everything pink and be-ribboned for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s gotten to the point that you almost can’t go to a store in October without seeing at least one thing pink and sparkly.

After my mom’s mastectomy, I stopped buying into it.

I support cancer research. I support donating money to companies that help cancer sufferers in all stages and in all areas of their life from diagnosis, to treatment, to recovery, and sometimes unfortunately to relapse. I support research into the causes of cancer and the different types of cancer and talking about what really happens when you get it and alternative treatments and how relationships suffer because of it and the realness of it all.

So, why is Breast Cancer Awareness Month so much more popular than, say Ovarian Cancer Month (September) or Lung Cancer Month (November) or Colon Cancer Month (March)? Is it because, perhaps, pink is so pretty and a woman’s breasts are just so much more important to us as a society than her ovaries or lungs or colon? Because you can’t see those things.

It’s not because it’s the number one killer of women; that’s heart disease. American Heart Month is in February, and while I do see some marketing for heart health awareness, it’s absolutely not on the same scale as the pink ribbon trend.

And to be honest, breast cancer doesn’t really need awareness at this point, so unless you’re making a donation to companies looking for breast cancer cures every time you wear your shirt or bracelet or earrings or other pink ribbon garb, it’s not really doing anything for the cause.

And don’t even get me started on the “Save the Ta-Tas” movement! Save the ta-tas?! How about we save the woman attached to them first. It was thinking like that that made women go through chemotherapy and radiation instead of having a mastectomy that would have been much easier on her in the long run and been much less harmful on the rest of her body. Remember how enraged people were with Angelina Jolie for having a mastectomy and reconstruction even though she didn’t actually have breast cancer? How dare she take preventative measures to ensure she didn’t put her body through something like that?!

When my mom got colon cancer (it was, more specifically, anal cancer, but she was too embarrassed to say/admit that), it wasn’t until after her treatments that the doctor told her she then had a less than 5% chance of not getting cancer again. She did.

No, I’m not advocating for getting rid of the pink ribbons. I’m not judging you for wearing your pink shirt and accessories – I don’t know how cancer has or hasn’t affected your life. I just wish that cancer research, as a whole, was more popular. I wish it was trendy to support and fund and advocate for better treatment options and more preventative measures for all types of cancers, even the less “glamorous” ones. And I wish that there was some sort of regulation on the amount of money that gets donated every time someone buys some sort of awareness accessories. Because it breaks my heart to pick up an item and see that it says “a percentage of the proceeds from this item goes to cancer research” but fails to say what percentage.

So, go out and support your causes. Just maybe stop and think about them and why you’re supporting them for a second. And maybe consider why you aren’t supporting other ones, too. And if you really want to know the truth about “Pinktober” from someone who’s been through it, read this article by Brandie Sellers, a psychology professor, two-time breast cancer survivor, and one of my mom’s good friends.

In love and health,
Angel

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