In The Pink

12 10 2013

1378511_10201590047145506_440261426_nRecently, a friend asked me to support her charity walk/run for Pediatric Cancer Research, in remembrance of her son who was taken a few years ago. If I didn’t know her, this cause would have been completely off my radar. But I remember the hard times experienced by her family, so I gladly donated to the cause. All over the world there are plenty of saddened family members and friends ready to take up the cause for many, many diseases. I remain encouraged by people’s capacity for goodness, even during sad times.

In the past few days, I’ve been thinking about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s a little hard to ignore as pink is everywhere. I’m trying to understand why this particular type of cancer gets so much attention versus others. For that matter, why just cancer? Equal allocation of time and resources could be argued on behalf of Stroke Prevention, or AIDS, or my personal cause – Diabetes research. These concerns are just as important, but lack the commercial marketing machine to merit an entire month of focus.


I read an interesting blog post recently, written by a woman who is bothered by the revelry surrounding this month – pink trashcans, National No Bra Day, etc. One of her points is that as a victim of the disease she is allowed to poke fun, but others making it cute is disrespectful. It will be argued that this fun stuff raises money, and I get that. But the effort and monies spent increasing awareness could be pipelined directly to research… a no frills approach if you will. And there are accusations that companies use their connection to the charity to boost sales. In some ways, that might be more tragic than the disease itself.

She also says, “… seeing October 13th advertised as “National No Bra Day” and as a “fun” way to support people with breast cancer has pushed me over the edge.” Maybe she sounds a little bitter, but who wants to call her on it? I certainly do not.

Please read her fantastic blog post here, and think about some of the tremendous work that other charities do without so much attention. Also, please support my friend’s charity, Joseph’s Angels.

I’ve written this post over several days, being cautious not to offend too many people. I offer no answers, just questions. As usual, I welcome your comments.  JL




9 responses

20 10 2013

John, great points I understand what you are saying. There needs to be awareness for so many illnesses and research is key. We all just need to push a little harder.. The great thing about “pink” is that it has helped so many. We need to keep pushing for all diseases. As Joseph’s aunt, I thank you for bringing awareness to children’s cancer. My family and I are walking on nov 9 for pancreatic cancer research and awareness, a cancer from which BOTH of my parents died. I also work for the ALS association who are constantly trying to raise funds for programs and services for ALS patients, research and advocacy. Bringing these points to light make a difference.

20 10 2013

Thanks,Donna. That’s exactly my point… I was very fortunate to spend a lot of quality time with your Dad on Malvern retreats. I enjoyed his company very much.

17 10 2013
Jim morris

I agree with your sentiments on this and who the hell is NOT aware of breast cancer!!! Far more men die of prostate cancer than women of breast cancer. Besides, what cute color would be such wrist bands, soxs, trash cans…

13 10 2013

My initial, and probably obvious, reaction is that everyone cares about boobs–women and men. And they’re hard to miss, so to speak. It’s not like anyone ever thinks about a person’s pancreas, even though that’s pretty lethal when cancer is concerned.
I have worked with Relay for Life for nearly 15 years…they offer support and raise funds for all types of cancer research, not just a specific one. I’ve had the same questions about their “gimmicks” and methods. The best thing I can come with is that it often takes the “fun” stuff to get people involved. When we started, we were gung-ho about staying up all night to walk, and participating in the themes for the events, and we raised a lot of money. We’ve scaled back our participation in those activities, but we raise the same amount of money and just send it in instead of attending. Cynically, also, I think people stroke their own egos by participating in something that’s visible and recognized. Capacity for good, yes, but fewer of us want to do those good works if no one knows about it.
And don’t get me started on what I think about why there is no cure for cancer, or diabetes, or other prevalent diseases. It’s business.

12 10 2013

Even as someone who is currently pressuring her entire staff to sell something “Pink” related, I’m a little sick of all of it. Instead of selling you a $60 item and donating $10, why don’t you just donate $20 in cash? The charity gets more, you save $40. (I also feel this way about school fundraisers.)

But in answer to your original question, I think a big part of is that Susan G. Komen is a marketing MACHINE. They are very good at what they do, and everyone else has jumped on board. Of course, 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, so maybe that’s a good thing.

12 10 2013

A – Those margins you talk about are what I find most disheartening. In a perfect “moral” world, sell the products and donate the entire profit. Do it for the month, or a few weeks… Whatever. But be up front and truthful about it… In the long run, you reap benefits.

12 10 2013

John, Nicely written, as always. When Andrew was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, I used to feel the same way about all the neurological disorders I’d heard of. Why do they get so much push? But you never hear word one about Tourettes. Maybe it has to do with the way the National Association of ________?_________ promote themselves. I’m sure prevalence has something to do with it as well. You raise good, valid questions. Maybe we’ll learn the answers someday.

12 10 2013

My fight like a girl campaign for Ego Studios donates to fox chase.. for all cancers… okay the pictures gear towards breast cancers… that’s the nature of the beast… who would want to see a bunch of photos of prostates… but my best friend passed on with it a few years ago…. you ask great questions….

12 10 2013

Thanks, F. Good points all over the place.

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