Since my breast cancer diagnosis in 2008, I have intuitively felt uncomfortable with the use of pink ribbons. Well-intentioned friends and family flooded me with gifts displaying them and while I was grateful for their sincere efforts to support me, I never used those products.
As time went on, I began getting e-mails from different companies with offers for me to purchase expensive items with the infamous ribbon. But where is my money going and shouldn’t I be receiving some of it to support my new health-supportive lifestyle? To add insult to injury, a friend who was diagnosed a year after I was invited me to “race for the cure” as she had committed herself and could not meet the minimum sponsorship amounts. Because she was going through chemotherapy and couldn’t handle the mental and physical exhaustion, she put a lot of money on her credit card (even though she was unable to work while in treatment) so that she could stop the constant harassment to pay up.
This event and other similar ones caused me to investigate further. This is what I discovered about breast cancer fundraising and pinkwashing – a term used to describe a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.
Komen has been publicly crumbling and what I’ve been saying out loud is quite visible to all. There have been resignations after resignations and just recently Nancy Brinker announced that she was assuming another position… overseeing fundraising?!?! Yeah okay… please excuse me while I throw up! I have to ask myself what would her deceased sister, for whom she began the organization, say? Actually she is on twitter and she constantly keeps me laughing.
So for those who ask how they can help, I will happily redirect you to the “Think Before You Pink” toolkit so that you can gain some historical information, wallet-sized cards with questions to ask before you buy and to learn more about the work no-pink -wearing cancer survivors like myself have been trying to let you know for some time now. Keep in mind October is breast cancer awareness month and you will surely be inundated with lots of products proudly displaying pink ribbons in support of the cause… but mostly of their bottom line.