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 all of those who have contributed time and money to BC research. I proudly wore “pink” 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?

These corporations make big money off pink products. Where does it go? Some of it goes to the American Cancer Society, or other breast cancer organizations. 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.

If corporations want to really help, they 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 Research Foundation or Breast Cancer Action

While you’re at it, sign a petition or two to encourage legislation which 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, a pretty card meant the world to me and kept me going. I’ll always remember your kindness.

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

Health, Uncategorized

Why Pink Makes Me Cringe-Redux

pinkwashing

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.

thinkbeforeyoupink.org
thinkbeforeyoupink.org

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.