Tag Archives: pinktober

Pinktober: One Week Down, Three To Go.

6 Oct

It has been a crazy several months (more on that in another post) and I have wanted to write here on many occasions. But, each time, words seemed to fail me. I’ve really wondered what I could possibly add to the conversation about breast cancer or survivorship given that there are so many amazing voices out there doing it every day. And every time I think I am going to write, I don’t even know where to start. I feel like I have said pretty much what I want to say and don’t really want to become a broken record. Nothing is really new, right?

And, I guess that is the problem: nothing is really new.

We still have pink washing, breast cancer awareness month and very little of the money raised in the name of a cure going to actual research and . . . 

still, 30% of ALL women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will become metastatic – as in having an incurable disease, as in they will die from breast cancer.

Cancer sucks. Period.

One week down, three to go. For all of what I love about October (baseball playoffs – especially if my Angels are in it, my empty, beautiful beach, sunsets over Catalina and Halloween) I also dread October. It is pinkified and Komenified for the entire month. Hate that. There is pink everything, everywhere. Turn on the your t.v. and you’ll see it in commercials, the back drop of newscasts, the NFL, you name it, everyone and everything is pink.

Not going to drink this . . .

How is drinking pink alcohol fighting against breast cancer?

There is ridiculous pink branding and pink washing everywhere (Mike’s hard lemonade usually goes pink along with Campbell’s Soup, and so, so many other companies).  Walk into any grocery store, it is as prominent as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . it is like Nancy Brinker started her own damn pink holiday and it lasts a full month long. I realize it is not all Komen, but it seems to be mostly them and if you have read my blog much, well then you know how I feel about Komen. I will never believe that an organization that collected 389 million dollars in the name of a cure (in 2010), but only put 14% of that 389 million towards research, could ever become an organization that I could support or trust. For more on that see: Komen By The Numbers: 2010 And Still No Answers” and how Komen participated in pinkwashing by pedaling their own pink product, here.

Here is just one of many examples of something that is pink-washed – Essie’s “Breast Cancer Awareness” nail polish – by the way, nail polish usually contains toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (aka: dpa) – all known carcinogens – but who wants to be aware of that . . .

And how about these clever names for breast-cancer-awareness, possibly-cancer-causing-nail-polish: “Pink Happy” and “Pinking About You” and my absolute least favorite: “I Pink I Can” . . . really??!!!

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 2.11.36 PM


In fairness to Essie – since they do not disclose a complete list of their ingredients online –  I can’t be sure if they use the “toxic three” in their nail polish. But, most nail polish sold in the United States contains all three.  And all three are known carcinogens. But, let’s not go too crazy with all this awareness . . .

The one ingredient Essie does list online is: “dimethicone” which is a “smoothing silicone” substance that can accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes and appears to be linked to the “growth of tumors” (“Cancer Alert: Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid”, by Dr. Edward Group). Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

That, my friends, is pink washing – selling a product that is known to contain chemicals that cause or contribute to breast cancer in the name of breast cancer awareness.

One of the things I dislike the most is that for all of this “awareness” and supposed racing for the cure, we are not closer to a cure. 40,000 women will die of metastatic breast cancer this year. Not a good statistic at all. I have lost many friends, including my aunt, to breast cancer. I will see more friends die. I might die of it too

We need research. We need to learn what causes breast cancer. We need to educate. We need more RESEARCH. We really don’t need: pink portapotties, pink golf carts or Mike’s Hard “pink” Lemonade or make-me-aware-pink-potentially-cancer-causing-nail-polish with cute (sic) names. We don’t need more awareness.

I dislike the pink onslaught and pink hoopla because it celebrates something that truly is not happening. We aren’t curing breast cancer with pink balloons and pink products. This “awareness” isn’t getting us anywhere.  Sometimes I wonder if we are even treading water. My friends, your friends, are still getting diagnosed, still going through chemo, still dying, period. It is just so damn tiring. Why don’t we just all admit it – this cure thing is a fiction at this point. We are no closer to a cure now than we were when my Aunt died of metastatic  breast cancer in 1994. But, one thing is for sure – the pink profiteers are profiting big time – all in the name of breast cancer awareness.

For me, my personal breast cancer awareness is about the daily physical and emotional ramifications I still deal with nearly six years out. For me, breast cancer awareness is about my friends who have died, who will die and who will be diagnosed. For me breast cancer awareness is about how difficult it still is sometimes to simply live my life. For me breast cancer awareness is the guilt I feel in saying that very thing – that it is “difficult” being a “survivor.” After all, don’t I realize how lucky I am to be alive six years out? Of course I do. But, knowing how amazingly lucky I am does not mean that I don’t also feel like crap some or even a lot of the time. Pain and lymphedema are frequent visitors post cancer treatment.

On the upside, I’ve learned to shrug off pains now without too much thought of it being a recurrence. That is some real progress. But, I continue to see my friends get diagnosed. Many friends have had recurrences. And so for me, not thinking about a recurrence is something I have to actively work at, especially when I am seemingly surrounded by all of this pink crap during October.

So for the rest of this month of breast cancer awareness I am going to try to be less aware of the pink and try to see the orange and black halloween decorations and the fall colors displayed in the grocery stores (let’s face it, living in Southern California, that is about as close as I get to seeing “fall colors”) and try not to see too much of the sea of pink. And, I will try not to retort back with something snarky to the well meaning grocery store clerks when they ask me if I want to “donate to breast cancer” (whatever the %@&# that means). I have always been tempted to respond with something like this: “No thank you, I’ve already donated my breasts to breast cancer. I think that is enough” . . .


The Re-Branding of the Susan G. Komen Foundation

1 Oct

It was necessary – given the heat and fallout that SGK has deservedly experienced the past couple of years – that they re-brand themselves. And, they are definitely good at branding. But: “Passionately Pink for the Cure” . . . really? (Oh, and this has been trademarked – so don’t think you can use it for a fundraiser without getting sued).

I just discovered this re-branding this morning when I walked into my office building and saw this:

balloons pink komen

The lobby of my office building has gone pink

This wasn’t really a big surprise to me. But, then I saw all of these signs for: pasionatelypink.org and I thought, well who are they? Who is this new breast cancer non-profit? Hmmm . . .

And then I saw this:

passionately puke

Passionately Pink for the Cure is a new registered trademark of SGK – and their new brand. I guess they have finally conceded that they are not racing for anything.

SGK understandably needed a face lift after: a) doing some very stupid things like: pulling the plug on some women’s healthcare last year (you know, just the women who are poor, by choosing to no longer provide money to Planned Parenthood – where many women, in particular poor women, receive cancer screening),  and after b) being outed by many sources (including Reuters and our dear Rachel in 2010 in her widely seen post on “2010 Komen by the Numbers” – and for those of you who did not know, Rachel, among other things she was a cpa, so she did the math on SGK’s public financials) that less than 15% of the millions and millions of dollars SGK has raised in the name of a cure go towards research. Just to be clear, Rachel’s numbers for 2010 were 19%. When Rachel died of metastatic breast cancer in 2011, her post made the rounds again and Reuters did their own math and came up with 14%. Either way – not much.

In fairness, after tremendous public outcry, SGK returned the money to Planned Parenthood (essentially they were forced into doing the right thing).

And, then of course there was Nancy Brinker’s “Promise Me” Perfume fiasco. In case you didn’t know or don’t remember (but who could forget), Nancy Brinker launched a perfume called Promise Me (which is also the name of her book that was released about the same time). Of course the proceeds of this carcinogen containing perfume (yes, tests were run and the “Promise Me” perfume was found to contain chemicals banned in Europe for being known carcinogens) went towards breast cancer. About how much of it went to breast cancer research? About a $1.64 of the nearly $70.00 purchase price went towards a cure. The perfume was put on the shelves and sold. And, once it was brought to Nancy’s attention that her perfume contained harmful chemicals, she refused to take it off the shelves. 

Many of us began demanding that Nancy Brinker “step down”. She agreed to step down – but after agreeing to – she kinda well, really didn’t step down at first. And in fact, she decided to give herself a raise, upping her already enormous salary to $624,000.00 a year. There was fallout from this too (her giving herself a raise amidst demands she step down).

This past year some of the fallout received by SGK has resulted in some of their “Races for the Cure” events getting cancelled.

So it all makes sense that they would rebrand themselves – and it certainly makes sense that they would drop the “race for the cure” line from their brand because lets face it – this has been no race. Giving less than 20% of nearly 400 million dollars raised in just one year to breast cancer research is not a race. And, metastatic breast cancer – the kind that actually kills – has historically only received about 2%.

No, that is not a race. That is not even a slow walk.

So, I am one of many bloggers out there who have criticized SGK. I would like to think that our voices have been heard. They have certainly responded when we yelled loud enough. And, Nancy even referred to us a few years back as “grumblers”. Well, eventually, little by little some notice is being taken . . . I think. But, I am quite suspicious (given the numbers historically and given the fact that they pretty much seem to only do the right thing when they are forced to: when not doing the right thing puts their whole existence in jeopardy). So, yeah, I am suspicious.

Incidentally, their new domain: http://www.passionatelypink.org redirects right back to them. Nicely done!

I personally have had people from Susan G. Komen’s marketing department contact me to try to convince me that Komen is in fact a good organization – or really, I think they contacted me just to get me to shut up. (If you are interested in reading more about that, see this post: Komen, Please Leave Me Alone).

So, at least SGK is no longer claiming to be “racing for a cure”. Now they are just “passionately pink”. Who doesn’t love that?

Meanwhile, excuse me while I passionately puke . . .

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 🙂

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 not 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.

Pinktober is almost over . . .

30 Oct

I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I set out to write one today and saw that I had a comment from Jenn (see below) on an old blog post entitled: Komen Please Leave Me Alone

Here is Jen’s comment – I just had to share (you will find my response to Jen below her comment).


Submitted on 2012/10/09 at 8:18 PM

Truly sorry that you had an awful experience with NY Komen. That never should have happened – and wouldn’t happen at many other affiliates. I am confused though. Do you want the money to go to patient assistance or to research? Yes Komen ONLY gives 20-25% to research because the other 75% is granted out to the local communities. And Komen gives more to breast cancer research than any other group outside of the government. As for not getting finanicial assistance to help you that depends on the grants in the area. If no one applies for a grant to do this then what is Komen supposed to do? I agree “For the Cure” is misleading but who knew 25 years ago how complex breast cancer was. We all hoped for a quick and easy cure – now we know with science that it will take more. As for the emails from Komen – I suggest you use the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email and then they won’t bother you anymore and you won’t have to complain about it anymore without knowing what really goes on…

Here is my reply to Jen:
Panera Bread

Panera Bread is supporting Dr. Susan Love’s Army of Women – Good for them! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Submitted on 2012/10/30 at 10:21 AM | In reply to Jenn.

Hello Jen,
I think you are the one that doesn’t know what you are talking about. First of all, Komen does NOT give “20-25% to research”. Your numbers are wrong. To answer your question: “Do you want the money to go to patient assistance or to research?” here is my answer: I want Komen to stop being a fraud. I want Komen to stop claiming to be “for a cure” when they are not – no organization that puts more than 80% of raised funds to things OTHER than research can claim that they are “for a cure” for cancer. That just doesn’t add up. I want Komen to stop misleading all of us. And, I want Komen to stop claiming that they help patients with their treatment costs when in fact you can’t ever get anyone to call them back – ever.

You need to read more carefully – Komen’s marketing people are emailing me directly – they use the email contact through this blog to contact me. It is not the email list that bothers me – you can unsubscribe from that once you find out that all Komen wants is your money. The emails from Komen that I am referring to are the ones that they send to me directly through this blog – from their PR and Media people trying to get me to stop telling the truth about Komen. That is despicable. They never answered a single phone call, never returned answered or returned any calls when I called their patient support line over 100 times – but when I complain about that publicly and call Komen out for who they are – I get email after email from their PR and Media people. Just a little disingenuous don’t you think?

You don’t know what you are talking about. I haven’t found a single chapter of Komen that has anyone that will take your call or return your call from “patient assistance” – if you ask me – it simply does not exist.

Anyway, the NFL and others have figured out that Komen is NOT worthy of support. Haven’t you noticed that with many large organizations Komen has been replaced (the NFL supports The American Cancer Society now – they dumped Komen this year). Many other organizations have followed suit. Now when I see a pink ribbon on a cup at Panera Bread I smile because I know that the money is going to something worthwhile – Dr. Susan Love’s Army of Women.

I am thrilled to see that Komen’s stronghold is starting to diminish. I was one of several people that asked for Nancy Brinker to step down. I know she is still there – but she has been rightfully shamed.

I am glad that you agree that “For the Cure” is misleading. Komen is misleading and they only respond when their is huge public outcry. It used to be when I criticized Komen that people would take offense (I am in Orange County where Komen boasts one of its largest chapters) but, now times have changed. Most people I talk to now are on to Komen. No one likes it when they hear that according to Reuters only 14% of the money Komen raised went to research. In fact it is making people pretty angry. It is nice to see that the climate here in Orange County has changed. It is making room for organizations that really do help people get funds. Komen is losing ground and I would like to think that I have been a part of that – that is awareness – making friends and family and blog readers aware of what Komen is really about.

Your last sentence: “unsubscribe . . . and then they won’t bother you anymore and you won’t have to complain about it anymore without knowing what really goes on” is priceless. YOU clearly don’t know what “really” goes on – what really goes on is that Komen only donated 14% of the money they raised in 2011 to research. You can claim all you want that Komen donates more money to research than any other organization but the truth is that they pocket the money and dump it in to salaries and “awareness” and “education” (whatever that is). People are dying. The fact that Komen only used 14% of the funds that good hearted peopled donated “for a cure” to actual research is despicable. They have taken the lion’s share of the money raised for breast cancer research, and instead of putting it towards research, that money goes to six figure salaries, pink-porta-potties, pink golf carts and failing races for the cure.

‘nough said.

When Pigs Fly: More Thoughts on Komen . . .

24 Jan

This year I could not have been more grateful for the month of October (aka: Pinktober) to end. Next year, my plan for getting through Pinktober (and SGK’s pink peddling and pushing) is to simply do all of my grocery shopping online and at local farmer’s markets. I want to limit my exposure to the sea of pink. And, I don’t want to be asked again at a grocery store checkout stand if I want to donate to Susan G. Komen “Race for the Cure” [sic] (And by the way, I mean “SIC” as a double entendre).

Just one of the many pink products sold all year long: a Komen Pig Note Pad. But, take a closer look below . . .

When you’ve had breast cancer you have a whole different insight into the world of pink ribbons, pink products, 5ks and three day walks and so on that are all supposed to raise money for a cure and to help women (and men) with breast cancer. I used to think that SGK was using their money to benefit women with breast cancer and to help find a cure. But, I learned quickly, the hard way, that SGK will not be there for you if you need their help. See my earlier post on how SGK abandons breast cancer patients and leaves us in the cold. (I personally called SGK’s advertised phone number that breast cancer patients are invited to call for financial help over 100 times) and not once did I ever reach a live person, not even a voice mail where I could leave a message – in my opinion – what they did – what they did NOT do – while claiming that they would do something – was fraud).

I know many people who love the pink ribbons and love the Susan G. Komen Foundation and their pink rose ceremonies and pink balloons and 5k walks and  – sadly – they think that buying pink will help eliminate breast cancer . . . one day. They think that buying pink will somehow help someone like me.

So why am I talking about this in January now? I was out picking up some office supplies at my local Staples store and did a double take when I saw all of the Christmas displays and seasonal products for the holidays replaced with pink, pink, pink. Seriously? Is it necessary for this to be a 12 month thing now?

I decided to take a stroll throughout the store and take in all of the pink, just curious about whose name is on it and where this pink-breast-cancer-curing-money is really going. Nearly every product I saw at Staples that was pinked was done so in the name of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Not much of a surprise really.

Maybe when pigs fly we'll have a cure . . . until then, by all means, let's keep "benefitting" SGK!

But, here is what really surprised me . . . they don’t even claim any more to be giving the money to “the cure”. Instead this is what the Susan G. Komen pinked products I found now say: “benefitting” The Susan G. Komen Foundation . . . at least they are being honest about it now . . . where the money from your purchase goes . . . “to benefit The Susan G. Komen Foudation”.

It certainly did not go to benefit me or anyone I know who has had, survived or died of breast cancer. I love this complete lack of accountability (not). I guess it is just par for the course. The sad thing is that people buy this stuff thinking, believing that it will actually lead to a cure . . . yeah, maybe when pigs fly . . .

Pinktober Blues . . .

29 Oct
Cover of "Promise Me: How a Sister's Love...

So Nancy is calling this a "global movement" to "end breast cancer"? I don't think 19% to research is going to do it. I have no problem with money going to education or even to awareness, but, stop claiming you are "ending breast cancer", stop claiming you are "racing for a cure" because at your snail pace of 19% you are NOT.

This month has been rough in many ways. Partly it is because it is Pinktober. And partly it is because I just have not felt well. I have had a headache for 6 weeks now. That is nothing compared to what some of my friends have to endure. So, I feel weird even mentioning it. But, with those headaches I have the ever present fear of a recurrence. That is the lot for those of us who are lucky enough to be NED (no evidence of disease) . . . aches and pains take on a whole new possibility.

My headaches are getting under control a bit and I have actually had some breaks from it as well as just a lower intensity. So that is definitely an improvement.

I wonder though if my headaches are from Pinktober. I am serious. I really think it is . . . if not Pinktober, then Komen.

You see, it is difficult to be surrounded in a sea of pink, to be constantly asked if you want to make a donation “to breast cancer” whenever you are in a check out stand at a grocery store. It is difficult when you know that all of this pink hoopla results in very little of the purchase price going towards research, towards a cure. And, sometimes none of it goes to research, sometimes it simply goes to “awareness”. Well, that means it goes towards pink packaging.

I AM truly suffering from pink fatigue. I have been angry and depressed about it.

Please understand that if I thought any of this sea of pink would improve survival rates for breast cancer I would feel very differently about it. But, in all the years that Komen has been taking money in the name of “racing for a cure” the survival rates for breast cancer are largely unchanged. Those of us who are diagnosed with aggressive forms of breast cancer (even when detected early) do not have a great prognosis of long term survival. Overall survival rates are pretty much the same as twenty years ago. Early detection is NOT a cure.

So I am angry. I am angry that Komen, an organization whose mission is to “end breast cancer forever” only spends about 19% of the nearly 400 million they raise each year on research.

And, this year Komen has sunk to a new low with “Promise Me”, a perfume commissioned by Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Komen’s Promise Me contains chemicals not listed in the ingredients that are regulated as toxic and hazardous. But, because the FDA does not regulate perfume, there is no requirement to list these chemicals on the label. And, of the approximately $60 purchase price, only $1.31 goes to research . . . this after subjecting anyone who wears it to chemicals that are known to cause disease. Pretty sick, right?

So, when I stand in line at the grocery store and the clerk innocently asks me if I want to donate “for the cure” I literally feel queasy. For some reason I see myself lying on a table going through the surgery I had to remove both of my breasts . . . I actually picture that in my head. I donated those parts of my body for breast cancer, for survival, so that I could have the chance to still be here today. That is what I think about when I am asked to donate for “the cure”.

I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for the RESEARCH that lead to Herceptin . . . without that drug I would surely be dead. I am so, incredibly grateful.

But, we can have more than Herceptin, we could have a cure. So, while I am grateful I am also very angry. Angry that an organization like Komen who raises the lion’s share of money in the name of a cure only donates 19% of that money to research.

I am angry that good people, with the best of intentions are taken advantage of, are lead to believe that they are really making a difference when they buy something that has a Komen ribbon on it.

I am angry.

I am sad that I have friends who will not survive cancer because we are wasting our time with pink hoopla instead of real money for real cures. And I fear that I too will succumb one day to this disease . . . that there will not be a cure in time.

Some of you know that I play standup bass and sing. I am in a small blues band. Tonight I was asked to fill in for a bass player in another band because that bass player’s mother passed away today . . . from cancer.

I immediately agreed to fill in. I’ve never sat in with this band before, but, hopefully I will be able to keep up with them.

I wonder if some day someone will be calling for a bass player to fill in for me . . .

Pinktober comes early . . . ugh

13 Sep

This past weekend while I was reading the paper I decided to take a look through the Sunday paper’s coupons. (By the way, there is almost never anything that isn’t processed, full of chemicals or full of high fructose corn syrup in the coupon items).

Anyway, to my delight (NOT) I found this (see below) the first of the Pinktober ads that we will soon be inundated with, everywhere, during breast cancer awareness month or what used to be known as OCTOBER.

I already feel more hopeful . . .

Wee! Apparently, just like Christmas, retailers make sure it starts earlier and earlier each year. So now Pinktober – the month of breast cancer “awareness” hell – apparently begins a month early. Why should I be surprised. Costco is already selling Christmas items. And why not let them get a leg up on Pinktober? After all, they are curing cancer right? Oh, wait, I meant to say they are “re-branding” . . . isn’t that what Susan G. Komen calls it when they solicit corporations to pay to be pink?

We have all seen it: Pink buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, pink Hamburger Helper, pink cosmetics (that often include carcinogenic chemicals), pink, pink, pink. So where does your money go when you “go pink”? Well, here is where it goes if it is going to Susan G. Komen (only 19% of it goes towards breast cancer research, this from a “non-profit” that sues little non-profits for the use of its trademarked slogan: “For the Cure” (TM)). See chart below:

The above pie chart was created by Cancer Culture Chronicles. Her post “Komen By The Numbers: 2010 And Still No Answers” is a major eye opener on Komen, their expenditures and just how it is that Komen has a “four star rating”. And for a breakdown of the math behind where your money goes, see these two posts by Uneasy Pink: here, where she points out that only “two percent of all research dollars go to metastatic cancer research” Uneasy Pink goes on to remind us that metastatic breast cancer is the kind of breast cancer that kills. So what are we racing for anyway? Certainly not a cure. Certainly not if only 2% of the money goes to research for metastatic breast cancer. And check out some more math from Uneasy Pink in this post where she calculates that out of the $59.00 purchase price for a bottle of Komen’s “Promise Me” perfume only a stinking $1.51 of the proceeds go to research. PUHleez!

Perhaps one of the most outrageous (to me) pink for profit items I have seen are the pink alcoholic beverages.

Their Campaign: "Good On So Many Levels" See? We can all feel good when we buy these products even it is a known fact that alcohol consumption increases a woman's risk of breast cancer . . .but, whatever, right?

To be fair, these companies do make contributions to breast cancer research organizations. But, don’t think that it doesn’t increase their sales – there is real profit in going pink. And if you don’t believe the power of pink in selling a product, here is what one customer of Mike’s Hard Lemonade had to say:

“I went to pick up some of the Mike’s Hard Berry, I was told it was temporarily replaced for Pink Lemonade, due to Breast Cancer Awareness . . . I noticed the proceeds were also going to Breast Cancer Awareness Research, so I went out and bought a whole case.” (Emphasis added). For more on Mike’s Pink Hard Lemonade’s “Good On So Many Levels” (blech) campaign, and more customer comments where they claim they are purchasing more because of the good it is doing, click  here:  (By the way, what is “breast cancer awareness research“? I think the buyer may have meant breast cancer research . . . who knows . . . who cares – it sells).

I do not like Pinktober. So what is my problem with breast cancer awareness month? Why does it bother me, you might ask? Isn’t it good to increase awareness? Isn’t it good to raise money for research? Sure, but, when so little actually goes to a cure and when so many products in the pink bandwagon are actually dangerous and increase the risk of breast cancer and other cancers, I feel it is at best disingenuous.

But most of all, I do not look forward to being asked to donate a dollar “for the cure” every time I go into a grocery store checkout (when I know that only pennies of that dollar ever go to research and far less goes to research for metastatic breast cancer – remember – the kind that kills). I do not look forward to the wall of pink crap food at the entrance of and through every aisle every grocery store (I have yet to find a remotely healthy product that has gone pink . . . maybe this year I will find one).

I do not look forward to the false hope that pink sells.

Komen's "Promise Me" Perfume (or what I like to call "Fleur de Fraud"). Cost of this perfume: $59.00. Actual amount of purchase price that goes towards cancer research: $1.51 (Thank you to Uneasy Pink for doing the math).

And I especially I do not look forward to my disease, my suffering, my Aunt’s suffering and her ultimate death from breast cancer, and the suffering of so many other women and men being hijacked for profit.

I do not look forward to my friends and loved ones – who often have felt so helpless in the face of my illness – manipulated into purchasing items that are pink, tricked into believing it is doing me some good or that it will help some woman out there, when in fact these pink purchases often deliver very little to research. And some, deliver none – their promise in exchange for your money? To increase awareness. We need to move past awareness and sink our dollars (not just pennies of our dollars) into research.

And what about the walks and races to raise money for breast cancer? These are often incredibly uplifting events, providing a great deal of support and hope to both cancer patients, survivors and their families and friends. So clearly their IS some value beyond the irritatingly low 19% that goes towards research. Still, in my opinion, not enough. So many show up at these races to do good. I have walked in the past. My friends have walked on my behalf and their doing so has made me feel stronger. Chemobabe wrote a great post about this and dealt with the question of how we can be critical of an organization that makes these experiences (their walks) possible.

And for more reading about Komen try Komenwatch and read here, a blog post by one of my online friends Nancy of Nancy’s Point where she asks SGK for an apology. I agree with you Nancy, I think we all deserve one.

Okay, so you get it by now, Lisa (that’d be me) is not a fan of pink. And now, hopefully, you will have an understanding of why. I am hopeful that SGK (and others who are taking money in the name of breast cancer research) will find the surge of criticism on the web to be constructive and will prove to us all that they can do better than 19%, will do better and will honor their mission (albeit trademarked) to race for a cure (Registered Trademark, Susan G. Komen).

And, just so you know, I have worn my share of pink . . . I wore a pink t-shirt to many chemo and Herceptin rounds. But, I wore that shirt because it had, in very bold, large, black letters the word “FIERCE”.

My Mom bought me this "fierce" t-shirt, it was my "F" word for cancer treatment.

I loved that shirt. It is faded now, having been through the wash many times and worn many times . . . to chemo, to the gym and sometimes to bed. It was as if wearing that word across my chest (and for a good part of the year . . . across no chest) could influence the battle beneath. Fierce. I could make myself fierce even if I did not feel that way, I could make my cells within my body wage the war I needed waged and conquer the cancer.

So, I wore that shirt in spite of it being pink. But, that pink shirt didn’t save me. Research saved me – if I am even saved (I am thankfully, gratefully NED: “no evidence of disease”). Research that lead to the development of Herceptin made it possible for me to still be here. Women who gave their last days of an aggressive cancer to participate in early trials of Herceptin, they saved my life or at the very least, prolonged it.

Awareness did not prevent my cancer. Awareness is not a cure. And, we still, after so many years of pink branding, really do need to race towards research to cure all cancers.

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