Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Ribbons Continue to do Nothing for Breast Cancer

Two more weeks to go.

In case you haven’t noticed, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

NFL players are wearing pink cleats. The White House has been bathed in rosy light. Every product suddenly has a pink iteration tugging at our heartstrings, a chance to shop in support of breast cancer awareness.

I actually have heard of breast cancer, thanks.  I’m plenty aware.

What I don’t see – and the only thing I want to see now – are solutions: fewer women diagnosed and fewer women dying.

As The New York Times reported this year, truly radical ideas for diagnosing or treating the disease are often stalled, while powerful labs and researchers focused on the safer status quo keep winning the lion’s share of the funds raised by the perennially hopeful wearers of pink.

I want my money to make a damn difference. And for all the annual hoopla, I don’t see one.

My mother is a 17-year survivor, having had a mastectomy. I spend every day wondering when, or if, I’ll develop it and have not had the genetic test that would detect my greater odds of developing breast cancer. I did get my baseline mammogram at 35 and get one every year.

So far, so good.

The pinkness of this annual drama annoys me. Cancer isn’t cute or cuddly, something to tame and prettify with a new lipstick or lapel ribbon. No amount of feel-good marketing can alter the fact that women are dying daily of this disease and all the millions, if not billions, of dollars already raised and spent to cure them, hasn’t changed this.

Do we really, still, need to be made aware of this disease? What discernible, practical improvement in women’s lives does all this awareness create?

You either know that you have breast cancer, or you don’t – and thank God for that. And if you lack easy, affordable – or any – access to a physician or diagnostic tests, a pink ribbon isn’t of much use.

By now, I highly doubt that many middle or upper-income women in the U.S. still haven’t heard of breast cancer, or its symptoms, or where or how or when to get a mammogram.  Women with less education, income or health insurance? When their survival rates start to skyrocket, you’ve got my cash.

No pink ribbon can change this:

Research hasn’t cured the disease, in all its forms.

Many women still have poor to no access to the medical care that can detect and treat breast cancer.

Insurance companies will fight tooth and claw for maximum profits on the backs – and breasts – of gravely ill women.

Thousands of us live in terror of finding a lump. TC mark


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  • guest

    Couldn't agree more. The cause is noble, of course, in all its ostensible virtue, but the phenomenon is nothing but marketing – greedy, opportunistic companies enjoying a spike in sales during the month of October because they order their injection-molders in Taiwan to swap over to pink colorant. Not to mention the creepy sexualization it has come to bear. (Really, do we have to call them ta-ta's?) Thank you for verbalizing this disturbing practice so eloquently.

  • Alyssa N Sliva

    I coudn't DISAGREE more! I'm waiting on biopsy results as we speak, I'm 22 years old. Pink the cuddly color as you call it is inspiring to women, the whole phrase HOPE comes from this. A symbol of hope and potential and success, let marketing be marketing … one definition “to make the customer happy, to support the customer and create and implement customer needs”. The color Pink and the ribbons and the jewelry etc are there to give women hope, the mind is stronger than the body! have you heard this slogan before?

  • Kayla Ann Stockman

    There actually is a cure for cancer now. But nobody wants it because they can’t fucking patent it. My grandpa died from cancer, and for there to be a cure now and for no one to be wanting it and promote it for that reason makes me just want to throw up everywhere.

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