Pink Intentions

pink intentions       6.29.12

I recently had the uncomfortable experience of going to the movie, Pink Ribbons, Inc. with a friend who has been through two bouts of breast cancer in less than six years.

The movie looks at “pink washing” and how the phenomenon has effectively glossed over questions such as why breast cancer continues to flourish despite all the walks and fundraisers. In the course of many of our lifetimes, a woman’s risk of breast cancer went from 1 in 20 in the 1960s to 1 in 8 today.  Add to that the fact that only about 50% of women with breast cancer have a known risk factor for the disease and the waves of pink seem, at best, misguided. Why aren’t more campaigns aimed at reducing environmental hazards so fewer women get breast cancer in the first place? Why is early detection promoted as our saving grace?

As I sat and watched shot upon shot of women decked out in pink, I remembered how  helpless I felt when I learned that my friend would have to undergo another round of cancer treatment. I wanted to help but there was so little substantive help I could actually provide. Never mind the fact of this particular friend’s fierce independence and almost knee-jerk refusal to accept help. Even if she had let me hold her hand, drive her to chemo treatments, or clean her toilet, none of it would have changed the fact that she had cancer. Again. And that it sucked. So I empathize with the sentiment behind the pink pom poms, head bands, and cowgirl hats. After a while, you need some way to channel a mountain of good intentions.

I also remembered an essay, written by another friend, about why she’s had enough of pink ribbons. I’m grateful she has allowed me post her story on my blog.

About Joanne Barker

Joanne Barker is a healthcare writer and editor who lives in Somerville, MA.
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2 Responses to Pink Intentions

  1. AR says:

    Yes. Thank you, Joanne. I appreciate your comments. I have never appreciated the whole pink marketing campaign. It makes me irritated and cringe at the same time. And, the various mainstream cancer and breast cancer groups are not useful, in my opinion. I want more from Susan Love who has told Congress about the studies that should be done but don’t have funding. Who is a highly trained surgeon, but cynical about the current treatments. She was the first to call cancer treatment , “slash, burn, and poison”. The public education she has done should be the mass movement, not the marketing campaign that simply ties products and corps to Breast cancer. But, she embarrasses the mainstream groups. Capitolism is not going to solve this, in fact, it likely has added to the number of risks for the illness. I don’t have it. People close to me have it and have died from it. But, I am still sick of the misguided and manipulated thinking of some people who believe they do something positive, even political, by buying jewelry.

    • Thanks Anne. I always appreciate your thoughts and insights. It was distressing, to say the least, to learn that some of the companies that have been the most “pink” happen to sell (or have sold) products that contain known toxins.

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