This is a post from last year, updated a bit, but the message remains the same:
It’s not Pink, the singer, that stirs up ambivalent feelings in my soul, it’s the color pink linked to October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.
It’s all the pink stuff beyond the commemorative ribbons. The pink deodorant containers, buckets of chicken, and yogurt lids (Yoplait has a pink ribbon label and contains rBGH, the artificial growth hormone that’s linked to breast cancer). It’s the clothes, cups, pens, bottles, garden tools, and my mom’s Oct. 1st newspaper for crying out loud. I can’t even look at Pepto-Bismol bottles anymore.
What riles me up is the “Pink Washing.” A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures or sells products that are linked to the disease.
Before sticks and stones are thrown my way, please hear me out. I do not mean to denigrate the BC walkers and fundraisers. I’ve been both. What I want more than anything is a cure for cancer.
What I want is women, and men, to stop getting BC or dying from it. I want people to think about the toxins that go into their bodies when they use lotions, shampoos, deodorant, nail polish, foundation, meats, milk, fruits, et al. You can find out about the chemicals in your products right here.
The end of next month marks the 8th year of the last chemo session I had. That’s the date I considered myself cancer free.
There was an eighth session scheduled in mid-December for chemo but I was so friggin’ tired of being tired, having pain, throwing up, (fill in any adjective for miserable) that I skipped it. I wanted to make tamales with my family, as I had since I was a child, and I wanted to celebrate Christmas in my living room, not from my bed.
So I said “F-K It,” I’m not doing this anymore.
I still don’t know whether I based my decision on fatigue or it was a grasp at self-determination. Maybe it was both. Probably. I do remember feeling particularly powerless at that time. There are the ambivalent feelings of life and death, hair and no hair, sorrow and hope, regrets and plans, hell days and heaven days. Load these into a blender, push the button, and you might get a sense of how I felt.
Pink products and words “Breast Cancer” remind me of this time in my life. This is where my ambivalence comes from. This is when I cringe.
I’m not ungrateful for my life, or breast cancer research, or awareness of breast cancer,
because I am and so are my three children. But that dang PINK is everywhere in October, when the autumn colors of golden, bronze, pumpkin, and burgundy naturally abounds.
PINK is in my supermarket, the drug store, magazines, T.V., clothing stores, pet stores, bakery, and on my toilet paper wrap. That’s what I see in October, flutters of PINK everywhere. ANNOYING.
Breast cancer sucks. Marketing breast cancer double sucks.
My ambivalence also has to do with the fact that in my small world and community I keep encountering numerous cases of breast cancer in women ranging from 28 to 70 years of age. I’m sure you’ve heard of many people battling the disease within your circle of family/friends/acquaintances.
How can this be after years of research, millions of dollars, and awareness campaigns? Have we been operating on lies?
I am not saying that we should stop donating to campaigns of our choice (especially my favorite Dr. Susan Love’s research for the cause of breast cancer, thus the cure).
Au contraire. I’m still going to do my annual Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society. I’m still going to talk with women who are going through BC treatment- if they ask. I’m going to don my khaki hat with the pink ribbon (the one I wore for 6 months on my bald head) and the black and pink one my sister traded for her own hat on a bus in London.
I will continue to advocate for people to be aware of how to minimize their risk to cancer and find affordable health care. I’m going to do those things and hope you show support by doing these things too.
I’m just one survivor/thriver trying to communicate my feelings. Maybe a day will come, soon I hope, when Pink no longer stirs up my stuff and becomes just another color.
I can hope. Thank you for listening.