Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Over pinkification?

I've been thinking for awhile about what I wanted to say about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I was diagnosed last November so this is my first one as a survivor, which makes it a completely different experience for me. As in, before it wasn't an experience at all. The pink ribbons were just on the edge of my consciousness. Sure, I was "aware" of breast cancer. It existed. I knew about it. But it was something that happened to old ladies, not something I had to worry about. I didn't need to worry about breast self exams. I had ten more years before I had to worry about mammograms.

I knew that pink ribbons equalled breast cancer awareness, but I wasn't at all aware of breast cancer. The treatments, the scars, the constant worry, the fighting for my life... this is what the pink ribbons mean to me now. Pink ribbons accost me wherever I go (my sister says "It looks like pink ribbons threw up all over the grocery store"). I would say they're a constant reminder, but how can you be reminded of something if you never stop thinking about it in the first place? Between my own treatments and checkups, managing after-effects, and volunteering for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, breast cancer is constantly on my mind. I don't need the pink ribbon products in order to be "aware".

I especially don't need a pink ribbon product that says "5% of the proceeds to benefit breast cancer research...". The $4 is better spent being donated directly to a charity than to buy a product from a company that disguises their greed under the premise of being charitable. They use the pink as another marketing ploy. It makes sense, too. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime and with all-time high survival rates, there are a lot of survivors walking around out there. Not to mention all the survivors' friends, family, co-workers, etc. who just want to show support. "Buy our $4 cereal and 4 cents will be donated to breast cancer research...". No thanks. I'll buy the generic and donate the dollar I save.

"So what, then, can I do to make people aware?". I'm very glad you asked that. I personally raise awareness by blogging, twittering, facebooking, and everything short of shouting my story from the top of a mountain (but only due to the distinct lack of mountains in Florida). "But Cristal, I don't have an inspiring story like yours to share." Yes, thank goodness for that! You can still get educated and spread the word. Breast self-exams: Do them and know what is normal for you. Get your mammograms after 40. Know your family history and know your risk. Boom, I just dropped an awareness bomb on you.


  1. I like the knowledge you drop. Also, your daily mugshot thingy just gave me epilepsy. Score.

  2. But, I do have an inspring story like yours to share. Actually, it's exactly like yours...like plagiarism. =Þ

    For what it's worth, I think those pink ribbons everywhere are like the Catholic version of awareness: guilt. Maybe it's guilt for not doing enough or for not being suportive enough. The short term effect is that people get involved in minimal ways, but they might feel strong-armed. I worry that a backlash is on the way and people will look back on pink ribbons as the symbol of a fad instead of a reminder of those we've lost and those who live on to fight. In fact, this past year almost seems like it's hitting critial mass.

    I hope that grassroots true stories like yours continue to be the real spearhead of breast cancer awareness. You are someone devoid of ulterior intent. It makes you accessible - someone everyone our age can relate to. It's an important group to catch the focus of. That's why TV caters to us.

    By the way, you should actually say "Boom!" when you finish telling your story to people, becuase it is a perfectly succinct conclusion. BOOM!