Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pink Sisters, I Feel Your Pain

Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? If not, you must live under a rock! We are constantly reminded of this by the sea of pink surrounding us. Some of us call it Pinktober because of the pink obsessiveness; I have even heard breast cancer patients call it "Puketober."

While the other cancer communities (like my melanoma community) drool at the amount of awareness and recognition all this pinkness brings to breast cancer, many in their community believe that the pink campaign is excessive and not delivering the right message. A giant case of be careful what you wish for ...

And I get it. All the pink ribbons have not given the breast cancer patients a cure; they have not given advanced stage breast cancer patients much in the way of hope. Don't get me wrong. Awareness is great, but I think there is a saturation point ... and in my opinion, it has been breached!

As I discussed in my blog "Pinktober," businesses are profiting from Pinktober more than breast cancer patients ... and there is definitely something wrong with that picture. But it goes further than that. There are campaigns to save the boobies, save the hooters, save the ta-tas ... but what about saving the men and women who have breast cancer.  Sexualizing a cancer will not cure it.

Unfortunately the breast cancer community is struggling with playful pink as their awareness color and brand as well as all the fun and games supposedly created for awareness. Decorating bras might be a fun thing to do, but probably not a great reminder to those who no longer have a need for bras. We all know, or at least we should, that there is nothing fun or playful or party-like about any cancer. It trivializes those fighting for their lives and disrespects those whose lives have been lost ... and it sure doesn't cure cancer!

This video points out how out of control Pinktober has become:

In the melanoma community, we understand too well what the breast cancer community is feeling as far as having their cancer trivialized. We have heard way too many times -- "Melanoma? Oh, that's just skin cancer. Cut it out and you'll be fine." And perhaps you remember back a couple years when the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) tried to turn melanoma's awareness color of black to orange. Black was too depressing, they thought ... NEWSFLASH, melanoma IS depressing! They wanted something more bright and cheerful and attention-getting (like the sun that caused many of the cases of melanoma???).

For Melanoma Monday, a day reserved not only for spreading awareness but also for honoring melanoma warriors and remembering our fallen, the AAD encouraged dermatologists and their staff to wear orange and throw parties, with orange cupcakes, confetti, and streamers. Can you imagine being given a life-threatening melanoma diagnosis in the midst of such a party or by a doctor blowing orange party favors?

So, I understand what it is like to have a cancer presented as less evil than it really is, especially one that has severely impacted your life and broken your heart. The marketing people who come up with these ideas of fun and playful awareness obviously have never held a loved one with cancer in their arms while they took their last breath. Their approach is thoughtless and insensitive and, sadly, ... it doesn't cure the cancer!!

Many in the breast cancer community and beyond will be grateful to see November push out Pinktober because it has gone too far! The need for breast cancer awareness has passed, and the pink ribbon has now ventured into commercialization. And to make matters even worse, breast cancer patients feel their cancer is being trivialized and sexualized. The pink has gone amuck ... and does all this really help in the search for the cure?

 Melanoma Mama (Jaime's mom, Donna) (Remember Jaime) (Jjem Creations) (Jjem Creations)

1 comment:

  1. Sadly the pinkness has presented itself in the tanning industry as well. Pink googles as well as pink breast cancer ribbons to be used during tanning. I was hesitant to post this because I don't want to upset you. As someone that has lost a loved one to Melanoma I am appalled that "breast cancer awareness" is being used in an industry that can essentially cause another cancer.