It’s not a cute fad. It’s not “cool” to be a survivor. What women who have breast cancer want is to have their health and their dignity back.
Worldwide, breast cancer is an epidemic. Every 23 seconds a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Years ago the diagnosis meant shame. It was a tragedy and it led to death. We are more aware now because we are forced to be since the number of female issues and illnesses is increasing in staggering numbers. There are more miscarriages, earlier menopause, earlier puberty, and increasing numbers of breast cancer victims, many at younger and younger ages. There are also many other female issues increasing largely due to man-made chemicals. Your plastic water bottles and make up, wrapped up in pink ribbons, are producing carcinogens and micro estrogens that are feeding the problem.
It seems like everywhere you look there are pink ribbons and people talking about breast cancer openly. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing that people are coming forward and people genuinely want to help support those with cancer and help fund organizations that will help. However, the pink ribbon formation in 1992 began a commercialized culture that takes advantage of consumers and doesn’t really help the women who have breast cancer.
Wearing pretty pink ribbons, having pink bling jewelry, buying everything with pink and ribbons on it may make people feel like they are helping the cause, but this is all marketing and very little of the pink ribbon culture actually helps. Companies are using the pink ribbon symbol to sell more teddy bears and products.
The reality is hidden by pink. It’s candy coated. We are forgetting that the women who have this disease suffer. They suffer in many ways. The general population doesn’t realize that it lingers, it lasts for years, it lasts forever.
Many women face surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and then face side effects for a life time. They spend countless hours and dollars on physical therapy, medicines, wigs, prosthetics, counseling, and other products and services and still are not “cured” or back to “normal”. Many face numerous surgeries and have many scars, not just on their breasts if they have done different reconstruction methods. They have things you don’t think of like sexual dysfunction from the medicines and treatment, strange-looking breasts with no nipples and problems from implants, painful skin from radiation, hair/eyebrow/eyelash/nail problems, limited physical abilities from all the treatments, lymphodema, painful neuropathy, hormone problems, sleep problems, weakened immunity, hearing problems. And for many, the cancer comes back.
The original ribbon for breast cancer was designed by a woman in her 60’s who had several family members with breast cancer and she wanted to make people aware of the disease. She cut up her peach…not pink…curtains and made ribbons out of them. She was a grass-roots activist who wanted the focus to be on prevention as she knew that less than 5% of the money went this route while the majority went to drugs and treatment.
In 1992 Este Lauder and Self magazine were doing a feature on breast cancer and they contacted this woman about using her peach ribbon. She declined because she feared what would happen if it became commercialized. So the two companies did focus groups and came up with the pink ribbon. It’s ironic that Este Lauder pioneered the pink ribbon that everyone associates with breast cancer when they are promoting their make up which is loaded with carcinogens.
1400 organizations now claim to raise money for the “cure” however they do not talk about prevention. Anyone can put a pink ribbon on their product and there is no guarantee that any of the money goes to breast cancer. Several organizations just pocket the money. Those agencies that do put the money into breast cancer put it into drugs and treatment or the popular early detection market (doing self exams and getting mammograms). They don’t really focus on a cure.
People believe that wearing their pink ribbons and putting on lots of pretty pink items shows their support, and it does, but it doesn’t translate into improving the actual lives of those affected by breast cancer. If you really want to show your support, visit a local cancer center and find out what their needs are. Spend time with the patients. Volunteer to help drive them places, cook them meals, clean their houses. Do the research and make sure your money goes directly to the cause. Find a local non-profit that is helping cancer patients and donate your time or money to them. Don’t buy the cute t-shirt, pretty bracelet, or bucket of fried chicken with the pink ribbon on the side (ugh what an oximoron). Untie the pink ribbon and find what’s really under the package.
Women with breast cancer face mortality. They face fears and they face death. They face financial, emotional, and social problems. They suffer for long after their breasts have been cut off, they finish poisoning and burning their bodies and for the lucky ones, their hair grows back. Many become empowered, stay positive, and have high hopes, but in the back of their minds remains the fear.
We need to find a cure…we need to PREVENT breast cancer not just become aware of it.
Choosing healthy living over dying :)
For more information on this topic read Dr. Gayle Sulik’s book Pink Ribbon Blues
p.s. If anyone is wondering, I will be going to New Orleans for surgery #6 and will not be blogging for the next week. Continue to eat healthy, make good choices, and enjoy life!