Breast cancer, Breast Cancer Action, Breast cancer research, Family, Health, Healthy choices, Inspiration

Don’t Pink for Me: “Poison Isn’t Pretty”

Breast Cancer Action campaign
Breast Cancer Action campaign

Every October, the autumn leaves turn golden, the sycamores lose their leaves, and the color PINK is everywhere.

After 30 years of breast cancer “awareness,” have we found a cure? No.

What we have found are three thousand more PINK products, many of which contain carcinogens found to negatively influence cancer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for surviving breast cancer. I’m indebted to those who have contributed time and money to BC research. I proudly wore “pink” for the first two years, like some lucky talisman to help me in my travels down the pit of despair.

What gets to me is the commercialization and big corporations making a buck or ten off pink buckets of chicken, yogurt, and toilet paper.

And it sure as hell doesn’t impress me when the NFL cheerleaders dress in pink shorts and rattle pink pom-poms. (According to Business Insider, only 8% of the money from NFL pink merchandise goes to the American Cancer Society).

Now look at this 2015 news:

Recently, some of our members living with breast cancer asked us to look into the cosmetics used in a program for cancer patients called Look Good, Feel Better®.

Look Good, Feel Better is run by the Personal Care Products Council, the largest national trade group for the cosmetics industry, and the American Cancer Society, the nation’s largest cancer charity. They hold free workshops that give beauty tips and complimentary makeup kits to women in cancer treatment—support that some women understandably value while facing a cancer diagnosis.

Look Good, Feel Better bagThe downside? Many of the products offered to women in Look Good, Feel Better kits contain chemicals linked to increased cancer risk, including parabens, Teflon, and formaldehyde releasers.

As if that’s not bad enough, some of the chemicals in Look Good, Feel Better products may actually interfere with breast cancer treatment. For example, methylparaben has been found to both increase breast cancer risk by mimicking the hormone estrogen and interfere with the common cancer drug Tamoxifen.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve tried really hard to keep free of toxins in my food, hygiene, and cleaning products. Shouldn’t a corporation seeking to help survivors do the same?

Where does it go? Some of it goes to the American Cancer Society or other breast cancer organizations. These corporations make big money off pink products. Like the donations from the NFL, these organizations may receive less than 10% of your purchase.

According to Charity Navigator,

…only 71.2 percent of money the ACS receives goes towards its programs. Last time I checked, the program expenses number now sits at 60.6 percent.

Compare this to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation which, according to Charity Navigator, spends 91.9 percent of its funds towards program expenses and its services.

Corporations that want to help can give money to research and provide services for underserved communities and community health clinics.

Charity Navigator gives this advice:

So, how do you evaluate which cause-related marketing efforts are worth purchasing? Start by asking these questions: click this link.

Cause Marketing
Cause Marketing

If you’d like to help fund research, look for those organizations with a mission to do research or focus on the root causes of the disease, like Dr. Susan Love’s Research Foundation or Breast Cancer Action

While you’re at it, sign a petition or two to encourage legislation that will help those with breast cancer, and please use as few toxic chemicals as possible.

So now that I’m done, for the year, with this issue, I’d like to thank my friends and relatives who were there for me when I had breast cancer:

A listening ear, a hug, ice cream, a book, a joke, a phone call, and a pretty card meant the world to me and kept me going. I’ll never forget your kindness.

Source: Tell These Pinkwashers: “Poison Isn’t Pretty”

Army of Women, Breast Cancer Action, Breast Cancer Fund, Breast cancer research, Chingonas, Dr. Susan Love, Health, HOW Study, October Breast Cancer Awareness, Un-Pink

How To Go Beyond Pink

I view Breast Cancer awareness from a UN-PINK perspective.This post may irritate a few people, but I’m going to go all chingona on this issue, which is near and dear to my own breasts.
from my collection-by Yrenia Ortiz

Last week I shared with you why I couldn’t look at Pepto-Bismol bottles without cringing. This is not from an ungratefulness for the work of Susan B. Komen of any of the several BC awareness campaigns. 

Fifteen years ago that’s what we needed. It got us from unawareness to marketing of the PINK.

The majority of the funding goes to science aimed at treating the disease once a woman has it rather than finding ways to keep her from getting it in the first place.  Article.

Undoubtedly, awareness campaigns and subsequent dollars for making chemo medicines saved thousands of lives, mine included. But what about now, in 2012? How do we go beyond PINK?

How do we change this statistic*?: 

In the 1970’s, lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer in the US was…1 in 10In the 2000’s the lifetime risk is 1 in 8. 

Maybe we can put aside the PINK for just a few minutes and go all out chingona for: 

Breast Cancer Action

1. WHY: isn’t donating money enough?  Did you know that breast cancer could be caused by a virus? Yes, read about it. We need research to find the cause, thus the cure. The organization “Think Before You Pink” wants you to be informed on where your donations go and how much.

 2. HOW: The majority of women who get breast cancer have none of the known clinical risk factors. This means we don’t know what causes breast cancer or how to prevent it. The Health of Women ( HOW) is a first-of-its-kind international online study for women and men with and without a history of breast cancer.

3. WHAT: can I do?  Partner with research scientists to move breast cancer beyond a cure. Army of Women is doing just that. I joined 2 years ago-it’s totally volunteer. It takes very little time, as few as three hours a year to a couple of hours a month. If someone needs low cost/free services direct them here.

4. WHERE: can my donations/actions make a significant difference? Donate for research for a CURE. Add your name, for stronger regulation and independent research, to this petition. 

5. WHEN:  can you  advocate for a cure? Any day of any month, not only in October. You don’t have to walk 60 miles in a sponsored event (but you can if you want-my sister, the exercise chingona, did). Encourage others to advocate and get educated. Show action by:

  • Participate in a study, 
  • sign a petition, 
  • shop for products where the majority of the money goes to research, 
  • educate yourself on high risk factors, 
  • get at least 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise, 
  • find out what chemicals are in your food/cosmetics/home 
Please understand that this post is my way of letting out my feelings about my own breast cancer journey, one that almost 7 years later, I am still on. (don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to still be around to walk the journey). But, it’s one that I’m reminded of every time I take my tiny white anti-estrogen pill. 

I want to grow older with my siblings and my loved ones. I want to see my kids get married, have grandchildren. Too many people are getting this disease, people who didn’t have ‘high risk’ factors, women as young as 28, friends, acquaintances...women are still dying. 

Be that person who takes action. Go all out chingona on this issue.

*National Cancer Institute