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.