Wednesday, October 22, 2008

think about it

october is breast cancer awareness month... as I am sure you all know. I'm sure you've been inundated with pink this and pink that. support the ta-tas and check your breasts. there are pink ribbons on everything from note pads to teddy bears to clothing. even I have (slash am borrowing) a shawl that was purchased in support of breast cancer.

please know that I have family who has fought and beat this disease. I understand the importance of fund raising and increasing awareness and early detection.

but please...

can't other diseases get a little recognition?

I know that I do fund raising for the american heart association. in fact, because of wonderful, generous people, I was able to raise $850 for the AHA. I'm not saying to choose AHA over cancer; it's not about that. I choose them because it is personal for me; you need to do what's best for you. in the grand scheme of things, I imagine that of other diseases (besides breast cancer)... the AHA does pretty well in regards to public recognition. many are aware of the start! program or go red for women. (if not, there are the links)

but really? what about the others?

pancreatic cancer claimed the life of one of my favorite teachers ever. she was full of spunk and vitality and creativity... she made you want to learn. she was so physically active and a loving mother and wife. she was diagnosed... and I believe within a year, she was gone. the chance of surviving pancreatic cancer is about 4%. you have a better chance of surviving a plane crash. breast cancer survival is up to 90%. only $73.3 million of funding from the national cancer institute went to research for pancreatic cancer. breast cancer received $572.4 million from NCI. that's almost 8 times less research funding from NCI for a cancer that has less than a 5% survival rate?!

lung cancer actually killed more americans than breast cancer in the past year. yet it received $226.9 million in fund from the NCI. that's 2.5 times less research funding for the leading cancer killer.

(to be fair... cardiovascular research received $381 million - we're lucky)

what about those other ones that you kind of hear about but don't really know that much about... like prostate cancer (the guys need love too), leukemia, non-hodgkin's lymphoma, or skin cancer? what about diseases that aren't even cancer... do we just not want to donate because they aren't as glamorous? they don't have their colored ribbon the sides of race cars? because it's easier to think about breasts than it is to think about prostates? because it seems pointless to do a marathon for influenza? because we don't want to see billboards asking for funding for urinary incontinence (but it's ok to see two naked people in bathtubs as they discuss their active over-65 love life)? money that goes pink, can't go anywhere else.

before you all think that I'm this awful human being for being anti-pink (which I'm not... really)... all I'm saying is that I have an issue with the blatant commercialization of all things pink which detracts from the importance of other worthy causes. it's not fair that the public, via corporations that are jumping on the pink bandwagon for marketability purposes, are essentially dictating what disease should receive the most attention and funding. do you really think that your yogurt that donates to the komen foundation with every lid you send in has your best interests in mind? that yogurt you're consuming actually is made from milk from cows that have been treated with the synthetic hormone rBGH which can potentially cycle back and cause cancer to begin with. what's even worse is that if you buy products listed as "pink for breast cancer"... sometimes you don't even know how much is going to them, if anything at all. your $50 purchase might actually only contribute $.10... is that really worth it? you are better off just directly donating to the cause itself.

just "think before you pink" and remember that while the "cure" is still out there... we can work harder to raise awareness and fund prevention for ALL diseases... not just breast cancer.

note: this post spawned from this online article from MSN: "The Politics Behind the Pink Ribbon" by Brian Alexander. All of my statistics came from that article so I'm assuming that HE did all his research to begin with, thus no direct links or references.

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Hurray for helping to call out the pink washing that occurs every October! While I do believe all cancer related causes are worthy, there cannot be a person in the US who is not "aware" of breast cancer. At least they have an early detection method and a good chance of survival.

I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer in 2005 and there are still no early detection methods and all treatments are experimental. Pancreatic cancer research is where breast cancer research was in the 1930's! I think this silent killer deserves more attention and funding to at least start to make basic research progress.

I volunteer with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and if you are interested in learning more, please visit the website at