Monday, October 21, 2013

Step away from the pink coffee cup. Step away!

This morning, my sweet husband defaced my refrigerator magnet with this sticky note.

I laughed and laughed. People, I married well. The man has a sense of humor, and reminds me daily not to take things so seriously.

I'm not saying that I'm all Zen and nothing ruffles my feathers. But now, it's just the big stuff.

Big stuff, like Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Oh, for the love of boobies! Stop it with the pink! Quit trying to get women to go braless in "support" of breast cancer awareness. Take your pink sports equipment and "I love her rack" hunting gear and shove it. Quit buying toxic nail polish and pink plastic coffee mugs that promise a part of the proceeds fund cancer research. Stop trying to fool yourself that you're doing "your part" to stop breast cancer by buying more crap.

Let me explain.

My grandma died of breast cancer. My mama was diagnosed at 49 and survived chemo and what we can now acknowledge was a nightmare of a mastectomy. I had my first lumpectomy at 23 and am a champ at producing questionable lumps, bumps, and cysts. As you might imagine, I, uh, have a bit of an opinion on the subject of pink ribbon industry. I have a couple horses in this race.

I've done fundraising for the Susan G. Komen Foundation in the past. I've walked the walks, and wrote my 1 and only ever sponsored post about a ridiculous promotion tying KFC and Komen together. (I saw it as a way to tell my story and maybe throw some cash at what I still thought was a reputable organization.) However, Komen's politics and spending can now politely be called "questionable." I will not fundraise for them in the future.

Even if you ignore Komen, we are still bombarded with pink ribbons year-round. If you didn't feel crummy already, the pink ribbon overdose will surely make you feel nauseous.

Call me a cynic, but if you spend $10 on a coffee cup because part of the proceeds benefit breast cancer research, you are insane if you think more than 2 cents are going to any kind of research-related entity. When I see beribboned items for sale, I think, "sucka."

I sound angry - and I guess I am.

I'm beyond pleased that we can talk about mammograms and breast cancer in public instead of just whispering about them to our closest girlfriends. Lifting the taboo from the term "breast" has done so much for women's health.

However, we are lulling ourselves into a sleepy complacency. Buying the pink coffee cup doesn't mean you've done your part. Trusting huge charities to take on what is now the industry of breast cancer is ridiculous - especially when the charities are part of the industry.

Most breast cancer isn't genetic. So, what's causing the rest of it? We have to look at our food supply, at the chemicals in our personal-care items (which our government doesn't govern), at the substances in our environments.

If you want to do something, I beg of you: don't buy the damned pink coffee cup.

Get screened.

Write your congressperson about the lack of oversight in cosmetics and personal-care items.

Make a donation to an organization that meets your goals and fits your morals. Charity Navigator has taken some of the guesswork out of it.

Talk about breast health with your friends. Share information, not stupid boob-related pictures on Facebook that just add noise, not value.

Pay attention to the questionable substances in your environment - whether it's the plastic in your home or the stuff in your community's air.

Just don't buy any more pink crap - literally and figuratively.

And thank you for letting me get that off my lumpy, scarred chest.


Wanna hear more about my boobtacular boobie adventures? Evidently, I write about my rack a lot. But the more we talk about it, the less alone we are.
  • Here's a nice overview. Please forgive the aforementioned, regrettable Komen tie-in.
  • What's it like to be 31 and think you have cancer? It's like this.
  • What's it like to be getting married and have to have boob surgery? It's like this, and this.
  • What's it like when your boobs require seemingly constant medical supervision? It's like this.
  • What's it like when you have yet another freakin' cyst right as you're starting a new job? It's like this and this


Patience_Crabstick said...

I totally agree. Meanwhile, preventable conditions that kill more women than breast cancer (the diabetes/heart disease/COPD trifecta) get less attention.

My job brings me into contact with the world of cancer treatments, and it seems like good things are happening, but stamping out something as huge as "cancer" is a monumental task and pennies from landfill fodder probably contribute little or nothing. Plus, I hate the coy awareness campaigns, especially the ones on facebook.

cookingwithgas said...

I wrote a post on my sister's cancer and wrote about my brother's as well. This pink stuff makes me cringe. I can't stand it.
I donate to hospice, because when you have no chance of getting out alive, they are there.
I also would rather hand a person in need money directly than through an organization.
Thank you, this was well said.

Anonymous said...

clap. clap. clap. clap.
stands and claps harder.

Cassi said...

Yes and yes!

Rainbow Motel said...

Preach it! The Komen's recent siding against Planned Parenthood really made me step back and take stock. I'm all about taking care of "the girls" and I've participated in plenty of Komen races. However, I'm not about to wear a bracelet that says "I LOVE BOOBIES" and pink is still my least favorite color.

Claudia from Idiot's Kitchen said...

Thank you! I was just ranting about the pink crapola all over the place last night. You are exactly right. Give money where you know it will do good. No one needs more junk.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Thank you for writing this post.
My favorite awareness campaign slogan was one I saw on a billboard last year: "It's the one photo op you don't want to miss." (Somewhere on there it also said Mammogram, but the sentence was what caught everyone's attention.) The billboard was black with white lettering. I loved it for the significant lack of pink. I don't care for pink, and those ribbons are just as overused as the yellow "support our troops" ribbons. REAL support has very little to do with ribbons.
I do appreciate that each October we are loudly reminded to make an appointment to get checked out by a machine. My husband and I each lost a grandmother to breast cancer. My mother died of a somewhat rare and aggressive form of colon cancer in 2011. I'm still trying to convince my doctor that I need a colonoscopy annually -- because I can check for lumps in my mammary glands but the colon is a bit trickier.
Off to read your links.

Kate said...

My kids (9 and 12) and I were at a hockey game, where they gave out banners that said "GO PINK" (a nod to the university's "GO GREEN" cheer).
My 9 y.o. son asked if this, too, was about breast cancer awareness. He said, "Ya know, I'm thinking they need less pink awareness, and more science awareness." I am raising that one right, methinks.

slow panic said...

I also am tired of Pinktober. Someone make it stop. It feels over-industrialized and over-publicized and crazy.