Every year in October I buy several Swedish Cancer Society pink ribbons – one for each coat. A different Swedish designer creates the ribbon each year. Almost all the money from ribbon sales goes to finance research and education campaigns. I have many friends, students, and relatives who have fought breast cancer and not always won, so I like to support them and all other women who may be the 1 in 8 who develop breast cancer during the course of their lifetime.
I often wonder though, how many of the explosion of Pink October products ‘in support of breast cancer’ actually go to support breast cancer research or survivors.
I cynically believe that most of the companies just put boobs on a cake or display pink items in October to jump on the bandwagon. Many independent shops selling boob-shaped cookies or pink pens usually have no signs anywhere that they are donating, or if they do they are very vague about where it actually goes. Some of them charge more for their pink items during October, so it is actually the customer who is paying for any possible donations to breast cancer charities, not the company.
I guess as long as they are not selling carcinogenic items, not wildly overcharging for said pink items, or attempting to explicitly elicit donations that don’t go anywhere, they are increasing awareness and hopefully causing more people to think of their mammary health. But it (and the proliferation of other ribbon causes) could cause ‘pink fatigue’.
Below is my local pet supplies store. They have a pink ‘theme’ in their windows at the moment, though there are also several official items for sale where a portion of the proceeds goes to the Cancer Society. I liked this display because I don’t feel it was misleading in any way. They had one window with cute pink items and a another window featuring official pink ribbon products. And of course the fact that I love animals may have influenced me a great deal when seeing all the cute pink things in the window! Whether the cat sand company was cynical or generous in creating special Pink Ribbon cat sand mats is up to debate I suppose.
In Sweden we are lucky to be regularly called for free mammograms after a certain age. I am called once a year. About two years ago I found a lump in my breast. The following day – less than 24 hours later – I saw a specialist who manually examined me, gave me an ultrasound, mammogram and did a needle biopsy. Two days later I was sent to a genetic clinic for research into whether I had inherited mutated BRCA1 (BReast CAncer gene one) and/or BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene two) genes due to the high prevalence of cancer in my family. Everything was free. The outcome of the investigation was that I had a higher than normal risk of breast cancer but nothing that required mechanical intervention.
I do think though that there is not enough awareness of the fact that men can get breast cancer too. Even Tom Cruise had it, and so did my uncle. I also think that more should be done to help women in impoverished countries learn about breast health and also be able to go for mammograms no matter what their socio-economic background is. I would gladly donate to that. I do not, however, want to feel forced to buy random highly priced pink stuff that has vague possible connections to the fight against breast cancer.
What do you think?