As we enter into Breast Cancer Awareness Month I find myself conflicted about how breast cancer is portrayed. How commercialized and kitschy it’s all become. How the media and corporate America seem to be using breast cancer to boost profits. I feel like corporations play to our emotions and use our pain to their benefit. To benefit their bottom line.
Excuse me while I climb up on my soapbox for a moment…
Last week I watched the Canadian independent documentary Pink Ribbons, Inc. which tackles these issues brilliantly. I highly recommend all those impacted by breast cancer to watch it.
Everywhere you look this month someone is selling something that is supposedly benefiting me and my fellow breast cancer warriors. But so many of the products they’re pushing are full of ingredients that actually cause cancer – cosmetics with parabens, unhealthy fast food, personal care products riddled with chemicals like BPA, yogurt made with milk containing hormones and excessive amounts of sugar. The hypocrisy infuriates me.
Then there is the question of where all this money goes. How often do we just blindly hand over our hard earned money, assuming it is being spent fairly and honestly. Not taking the time to read the fine print, ask questions, or demand to know what exactly our money will be spent on. The generic answers most commonly heard are that the money is used for research, prevention, and finding a cure. But how can we find a cure when we don’t even know what causes breast cancer? More than half of breast cancer patients do not have any of the risk factors. Only a small percentage are genetically based. So what caused the rest of our cancers? Is anyone looking into that?
The majority of research money seems to go towards creating things that can be sold – whether it be a new drug or a regular mammogram. Why not spend money to research things like how lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, and stress contribute to cancer growth or recurrence. Or why the number of women with breast cancer continues to rise. Or how all the toxic chemicals we take in on a daily basis are wrecking havoc in our bodies. But who would make money from that? Not the pharmaceutical companies who currently control the majority of cancer research.
The other thing I take issue with is the cheery and uplifting pink washing that blankets breast cancer awareness. Breast cancer is not all smiles and upbeat female bonding. It is painful. It is devastating. It is emotional and ugly. It rips apart families. Destroys lives. And it is not pretty. If we are going to take a true look at breast cancer we need to see it from all sides. The good AND the bad.
So this October, as you are confronted with the endless array of consumer products claiming to support breast cancer awareness take a step back, read the fine print, ask questions, make informed decisions. Feel good knowing that you took the time to understand who and what your money is supporting.
For more ways to support the cause and links to some of the best breast cancer blogs out there, check out this post on the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network by blogger Holly Raby.
Together we can make a difference.
Peace. – T