I still love the fall . . . but

1 Oct

Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. I live in Surf City, USA, walking distance from the beach. I love it here. Summers are crowded with vacationing tourists and locals sometimes roll their eyes a little bit over the people that invade our home for those three solid months of summer. But, I actually like the summers too. I like that I live somewhere where people want to come and spend their vacations – it is a great reminder of how lucky I am to live here. And, I even enjoy the crowds – especially knowing that it is a temporary condition. Sometimes I walk down to the beach on a July or August day and it looks like there is one large pep rally going on, a sea of umbrellas, beach blankets, and sunburns. And then there are my family and friends that come to visit (maybe a little bit more often in the summer – to escape the inland heat) and my downstairs tiled entrance is covered in sand, and I like it because it reminds me that my nephew has just visited.


This is my empty beach ๐Ÿ™‚

But, when summer winds down and the crowds leave and fall approaches – that is my favorite time of year. Surf City returns to this little small town. The crowds are gone and it is just “us”, those who live here year round. The locals here know each other, I often walk to a local breakfast place and they know my name (no, it isn’t Cheers and I am not Norm). They know what I am having for breakfast and I am asked if I want my breakfast now, or “do I want to sit for bit” (I like to read the paper). I visit with other regulars. It is nice. And the beach – the empty expanse of the beach in the fall

Pink Ribbon chocolate lollipops for Breast Can...

Pink Ribbon chocolate lollipops for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Saving lives one processed, sugar containing ribbon at at time? NOT.

– is truly remarkable. I feel like it is a secret because if people only knew that the beach here is empty this time of year – surely they would come. The weather is amazing right now, the sunsets are glorious and I am grateful to have this all right here where I live.

This is my favorite time of year. But, October . . . not so much. I still love it here. And, thankfully the beach does not become riddled with pink ribbons. I am grateful for that. But everywhere else? It is Pinktober.

I most definitely do not like Pinktober. It has always felt like this big scam. And when my Aunt was dying of breast cancer the sea of pink all felt so wrong to me. What had big pink done for her? What had the Susan G. Komen Foundation done for her? They did not help her get better, they did not “race for a cure” for her. They did not race for a cure for me. They did not race for a cure for any of my friends who have metastatic breast cancer and they did not prevent my Aunt or any of my friends from dying.

I have thought a lot about how I was going to deal with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the pink onslaught.

Would I write scathing articles about Susan G. Komen’s hoarding of all of the breast cancer research funding and how they have – for so many years now – hijacked the lions share of breast cancer research funds and notย actually put it towards research? (In 2010 the Susan G. Komen Foundation only put 14% of the 389 million dollars they raised in the name of “racing for a cure” towards research – the rest of it went to, oh I don’t know: maybe salaries – like Nancy Brinker’s $600,000,000 plus a year salary, to pink port potties maybe, to pink golf carts, maybe . . . who knows . . . but it didn’t go towards research).

Would I skip shopping for the next month (as I did for the most part last October) to simply avoid being bombarded by the pink? Would I refrain from speaking up in a grocery store line, and telling people how I really feel about SGK and pink-washing, when I am asked if I will “donate money to breast cancer”?

Every time I was in the check out line of my local grocery store last year, I was asked “if I wanted to donate money to breast cancer” . . . I don’t even know what that means – donate to breast cancer. I sometimes wanted to respond with: “No thanks, I donated my breasts, some lymph nodes, and peace of mind to breast cancer . . . I think that is quite enough for now.”

It is all this big giant shell game really. “Here, let me take your money for buying that pink ribboned, processed, cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting “food” product and we will put some of that money towards . . . something and you will feel like you have done something good today”.

I’m not saying that money does not go to research. I am saying that not enough money goes to research. And, I am saying that I think we have enough awareness – at least of breast cancer – that it exists.

But, some are unaware that after all of these decades of pink, decades of “races for the cure”, decades of “awareness”, and decades of Pinktobers, mortality rates for breast cancer are basically the same, unchanged. So where’s this race they keep talking about? I think it has been pretty much a run around in circles. And for someone who has attended a few “races for the cure” I can say that there has been little or no attention to metastatic breast cancer at these events. Metastatic breast cancer is the only kind that kills. It is the kind that killed my aunt. It is the kind that has killed my friends. It is the kind that will kill more of my friends and it is the kind that could kill me if the cancer I had were ever to recur.

That is what bothers me. I could stand the pink a whole lot better if I thought it were actually doing something.

I still haven’t figured out what I am going to do this October. I know that I am going to live my life, run my business, play some music, take walks on the beach, participate in the 12 week breast cancer “Step by Step” clinical trial (it is an exercise program for breast cancer survivors and it started yesterday) and I am going to be grateful and I am probably going to agitate a little bit . . . because that is how change happens. And we most definitely need some change.

10 Responses to “I still love the fall . . . but”

  1. Cancer Curmudgeon October 1, 2013 at 2:31 PM #

    I LOVE October, or at least I used to. I wrote about some of the same things you do here back in August…triggered by the early appearance of Halloween candy in a store (why yes, I did buy and eat it). And I live at the beach too! But the other coast. I swore back when I wrote the post to take October back for myself. Hope you can enjoy fall as well.
    PS–have had the same thing happen at check out lines, and having worked in jobs where I had to ask for money from people as they were already giving money for their purchase–it is hard, and I tended to shorten the request out of sheer repetition. It sucks to be the worker–the store/corporation puts pressure on them to get as much in donations as possible.

    • cancerfree2b October 1, 2013 at 2:55 PM #

      Thank you for commenting! I LOVE October too. I so appreciate the position the person working the check out line is in. They don’t have a choice. I sometimes explain to them my background and what I know about Komen, what my personal experience with them has been. And other times I leave it alone and just say “no thank you”.

      I am sorry that you have had to be the asker. I would not like that either. And I know these decisions get made from somewhere above my pay grade. But, I can tell you, I am going to have a chat or two in preparation of next year about who this building chooses to sponsor. I just rent office space here, and I love the building. But, if I can convince them to support a different breast cancer organization, I will. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I am glad you are taking back October for yourself. We all need to do that!


  2. Gina October 2, 2013 at 4:49 AM #

    That is exactly how I feel. I hate pink October too. I wrote a letter to the editor about the pink ribbon and women are still dying. This information needs to get out into the public. I think the only people reading about this on the internet are women with breast cancer. If only we could get a famous spokesperson or at least the news to do a story it could help change it. If people stop giving to the pink race maybe it will go away.

  3. Lisa DeFerrari October 2, 2013 at 5:25 AM #

    You’ve captured so well the feeling of October – the wonderful fall season, yet all the mis-“awareness” and ineffective “awareness” going on. And you make a great point about one organization having “hijacked” contributions that perhaps people really wanted to have go to actual research. It’s really a shame with so many fantastic organizations out there that do great work, that others of them aren’t household names too. Thanks for a great post!

  4. nancyspoint October 2, 2013 at 11:06 AM #

    Hi Lisa,

    I thought this part was just priceless:

    “No thanks, I donated my breasts, some lymph nodes, and peace of mind to breast cancer . . . I think that is quite enough for now.โ€

    And you know, I keep hearing about donating to breast cancer too… what does that mean? Good question! This vagueness has contributed to the confusion and lack of meaningful progress.

    By the way, October is my favorite month too! I won’t give it up! Thanks for a terrific post.

    • cancerfree2b October 2, 2013 at 11:21 AM #

      Awe, thank you Nancy!

      I agree – I think the vagueness is a big part of the problem. When I ask people about that, they are stumped (I mean when I ask a cashier or someone who is asking me to “donate to breast cancer”). I am nice about it, but I try to challenge them a little bit and to question it. Most are pretty receptive and some even start to get concerned that maybe, just maybe it isn’t what they thought ๐Ÿ™‚

      I love what you said, that you won’t give it up (October)! I won’t either ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thank you for your words ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. RoniLynn October 2, 2013 at 12:08 PM #

    Thank you for writing this! *sigh* I get so exhausted this time every year. I agree with all you said, especially this part, “Iโ€™m not saying that money does not go to research. I am saying that not enough money goes to research. And, I am saying that I think we have enough awareness โ€“ at least of breast cancer โ€“ that it exists.”

    I just get so tired of the marketing machine. Yes, the idea ‘worked’ back when folks were still afraid to say BREASTS OR BOOBIES in public. so I guess they felt they needed to use a female-friendly color to get folks involved and make them ‘aware’. So now what? We’re aware and we like saying boobies and ta-ta’s and we even show folks how we feel for lumps. so why do we still have companies selling bagels made in the shape of pink ribbons (yea you Panera) and strawberry flavored water with the pink ribbon on the front and riding lawn mowers in pink. Seriously?

    My mom fought lung cancer for four years. No awareness for the deadliest cancer there is. I’m not mad about that, just mad that these companies take advantage of folks who are truly suffering and who need support.

    so where is all this ‘money raised for research’ going? How do we stop this pink train???? How do we get folks to pay just as much attention to lung and colon and other cancers? Stop it with the pink already!

    When does it end?? Ok, I feel a bit better now. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Catherine October 6, 2013 at 8:47 AM #

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. If pink fundraising can link itself to significant breakthroughs, changes, CURES, etc, than I think this month of pink would be significantly more easy to endure. Maybe we’d even be cheering it on? Personally, I like when an organization does what it says it is going to do – whether it be research, support, awareness, etc. At least that way the people donating can make a more informed decision.

    • cancerfree2b October 6, 2013 at 4:09 PM #

      Hello Catherine!

      Thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. And, I agree – simply tell us where the money is really going (awareness, education – I am not opposed to those concepts – but I really take issue with organizations hijacking “the cure” and putting dollars elsewhere). I clearly prefer dollars to go to research and towards financial assistance to cancer patients. I think we’ve got the whole awareness thing down.

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and to comment ๐Ÿ™‚

      I hope you are having a great day!



  1. Weekly Round Up – The Pinktober Edition | Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer - October 6, 2013

    […] Pinktober. The annual turning pink in the name of breast cancer awareness raising – or as Lisa puts it “the pink onslaught”. ย ย And you have lots to say on the topic. ย In Tangled […]

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