The Ribbon

Happy October!  Or, as we breast cancer survivors like to call it: “Pinktober”.

Yes, it is breast cancer awareness month. (Could we be any more aware?) And yes, you will see pink ribbons everywhere.

I, for one, am not a fan of the pink ribbons. And I’m sure this is shocking to some people.

While I know that all of the gifts given to me the past two years were done so with the very best of intentions and love, I thought I would scream if I got one more item with a pink ribbon on it. I didn’t want to be defined by my cancer and those little pink ribbons seemed to mock me.

Let me just say that there are many great organizations that truly support women with breast cancer, and promote research and prevention. In fact, one of my favorite charities is Ladies in Pink. Their annual event has more pink than you can possibly imagine, and a fair number of ribbons. However, they do a fabulous job of educating (through the guest speakers at their events) and supporting (through their donations to women fighting breast cancer). And I have the highest confidence in their integrity and generosity. In October, a group of my friends will don pink shirts and will attend this amazing event, and I can’t wait!

That said, the more I’ve learned over the past few years, the more I realize that all is not as “rosy” in the larger world of pink ribbons. I find that so much is about profit for these companies (surprised?), and we’ve seen little progress for all the time and money spent. The race for the cure started in 1982 and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. And yet, we still subject women to poison and radiation as a treatment. While the quintessential pink ribbon organization indicates their mission is about “the cure”, only about 20% goes to researching said a cure.

And my biggest gripe is that there is so little attention paid to prevention. Yes, we need to look for a cure, but shouldn’t we spend at least as much effort in making sure women don’t get the disease in the first place? Have you ever seen prevention covered in any of this “awareness”?

My friend, Jennifer, shared the following link on Facebook today, and it very eloquently explains the issues many people have with the pink ribbons (including those who conceptually should benefit) that will be everywhere this month. It explains things better than I can (or have). From hypocrisy to exploitation, this article covers it all:

Think Before You Pink

The one item that really struck me in the article was the part about “obscuring the harsh realities”. As if those who die every year didn’t fight hard, or “fight like a girl”. The reality is that no matter how hard you fight, you might still die. And the cute pink ribbons seems to fly in the face of that reality.

I’m not saying don’t contribute. I’m not saying don’t race. Just know where your money is going before you do. And if you know anyone with breast cancer, please don’t buy her anything with a pink ribbon. Chances are she already has more than she needs. 🙂

IMDb: The Ribbon (1987)


4 thoughts on “The Ribbon

  1. 20% is a generous estimate of what goes to research. I looked at the recent tax returns for Susan G Komen, and it was quite shocking. The bottom line going to research was closer to 15%, while several executive salaries approached half a million dollars. It sickens me to see good-hearted women and men being taken in by these scam artists. No pink for me, thanks.

  2. OMG Michele, I agree with so much you wrote here. I know how hard my sister fought and still lost her battle. I’ll never forget what she told me one day near the end as she was falling and I caught her and we were hugging. She said: Linda I’m not afaird to die, I just don’t want to leave my kids. Sending you hugs(no pink ribbons LOL)

    • Hi Linda, I’m glad you can relate. I was so worried that my post would offend people. Thanks for the hugs… ((hugs)) back! And I can relate to your sister’s sentiments. My biggest fear is not being here for my son.

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