It’s October, my favorite month of the year and also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But don’t hold your breath waiting for me to get all excited about pink ribbons and races for the cure and all that. The “pinkwashing” of America has bothered me for some time, first because it has given many people the mistaken impression that breast cancer is the number one killer of women. It isn’t. Heart disease is.
Then there was the Susan G. Komen flap in 2012, which destroyed forever my faith in that organization. And in the wake of that came my increasing awareness of the pathetic percentage of funds collected that actually go to breast cancer research. Not just of Komen’s funds, only 20% of which go to research, but of all the other organizations and products that would have you believe your support or purchase helps fund breast cancer research. Of the money spent on pink NFL merchandise, for example, only 8% goes to research.
In many, many cases, merchandise you see featuring pink breast cancer ribbons is nothing more than a publicity gimmick for the manufacturer. Little if any of the money they make ever goes to breast cancer research.
I won’t bore you with statistics or a long harangue about this; others have tackled the subject in depth. Just consider that I’m currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer — and it doesn’t change my thinking in the least.
By all means, support breast cancer research. For yourself and your loved ones. But please make sure the money you spend or donate goes to an organization that will actually put the majority of it into cancer research and not its executives’ pockets or elsewhere. In other words, as Breast Cancer Action puts it, “Think before you pink.”