Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"what's wrong with breast cancer awareness month?"

"October is breast cancer awareness month, which again fills the stores with pink products and pink ribbons. But many people with breast cancer are feeling exploited."

It's only September 30th and I already have pink ribbon fatigue. I ranted about about this in 2006, 2007 and 2008 (there is also a version of this rant in my book, Not Done Yet).

This year, let me point you to an excellent article by Maija Haavisto (and I don't just say this because she quotes me):

Since 1985 October has been celebrated as breast cancer awareness month, often symbolized by pink ribbons and the color pink. It is interesting to note that the awareness month was started by the drug company AstraZeneca (which manufactures several breast cancer drugs) and the pink ribbon originated from cosmetics giant Estée Lauder.

Simply put, I think a lot of breast cancer awareness month is big scam. To quote Maija's article quoting me (is this as po-mo as it gets?):

"I really resent big corporations making a profit - while donating only a tiny percentage to breast cancer research - on some disposable item that has been made under questionable environmental conditions by workers who are paid less than a living wage."

Want to do something to raise breast cancer awareness? Make a donation to an organization doing good work. Advocate for changes in environmental laws. Encourage young people to be aware of changes in their bodies. Do something nice for someone who has been affected by the disease.

And if you are craving a slice of pink cake, washed down with a glass of pink lemonade, by all means, indulge yourself. Just please don't do it in my name.


Rebecca said...

Laurie, I get your frustration with the pink ribbons, but it was a commercial by a health insurance company that 'educated' me about younger women getting breast cancer. I found my own lump in October of 2006. Without BC awareness month, I'm not sure if I'd still be alive.

Oh, I think the pink ribbons are cute, but my pink shirt that says "Save the Ta-Tas" is so much more fun

laurie said...


I am not suggesting that having an awareness month is bad in and of itself. I think we now know much more about breast cancer as a result of education. And there are still many more women and men who need to be reached. I just really hate the plastic trinkets and the pink crap that do more to help the company's bottom line than effect any real change.

Bargain Bragger Babe said...

As a fellow breast cancer survivor, AMEN to your post. It makes me sick that companies profit from the pink ribbon products. I think 100% of profits from a pink ribbon product should be donated to a worthy cancer organization.