The ubiquitous pink ribbon month is here. You can’t buy tic-tacks or a blender without a frigging pink ribbon. I can’t buy cat food, milk, coffee or many other products without participating in pinkwashing.
Five years ago I was doing chemo — for breast cancer. I was bald, exhausted, and generally sick of thinking about cancer every day. The pink ribbons made me want to hide in my apartment until November.
The thing is, it feels to me like very little of the money actually goes to breast cancer research and support of breast cancer patients. If a reasonable percentage of the profits from the sale of everything with a pink-ribbon on it went to help actual patients or research every breast cancer patient wouldn’t have to think about paying their bills while in treatment — the folks doing the cancer research wouldn’t have to fight for money to continue their research and generally treatment would be less expensive (my relatively brief treatment was about $500,000 —).
If it were the case that this money actually went to help breast cancer patients, my VERY first stop when I went to the cancer center for the first time wouldn’t have been with the woman who checked my insurance, saw it was good, and let me go — although, being the inquisitive person that I am, I asked her what would have happened if my insurance hadn’t been good… she said she’d then ask about my 401K, whether I own a house or generally have a lot of money. I shudder to think what would have happened if I didn’t have the means to pay for it.
Every morning my partner and I stop for coffee on our way to campus. Most mornings I just decline to buy Amy’s Blen — some mornings I tell them that I gave a breast to breast cancer research and other times I tell them I took my clothes off for Of Scars
On the other hand, if y’all want to participate in pinkwashing, go ahead — if it makes you feel better, makes you get rid of some karma, make yourself somehow immune to breast cancer by buying cat-litter with a pink ribbon, go ahead.. but understand that most companies are using the pink ribbon to sell stuff and aren’t all that forthcoming about how much actually ends up supporting cancer and cancer patients..