I Am Against Breast Cancer Awareness

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bigfraud-bigIt’s true.  Totally against it.  I don’t buy pink pens or pink garbage cans or pink shoe laces. In fact, there are times when I’ve specifically chosen product B over product A because product A had a pink ribbon on it.

I also don’t support Heart Disease Awareness, Childhood Cancer Awareness, or AIDS Awareness.

I don’t just not support “Awareness,” I am against others supporting it.

I have felt pretty strongly about this for quite a long time.

You see, I truly believe in my heart of hearts that “thoughts are things.”  I have seen it in action.  I have seen people focus all of their energy into being “aware” of their lack, their illness, their misery and, without exception they have been the poorest, sickest, most miserable people I’ve known.

On the other hand, I have seen people who are genuinely poor, sick and miserable muster themselves into a place where they could give thanks for whatever blessings they did have and, low and behold, things don’t seem quite as bad for them any more.

Furthermore, I have had an issue with the vast amounts of money being poured into all these foundations with what seems like very little return.  My grocery store has an entire department of pink merchandise ranging from cream cheese to toilet paper to mittens. I can’t even fathom how much money is spent on pink (and red and blue etc) stuff.  All that cash and we’re still poisoning women with radiation and chemo and chopping off pieces of their precious bodies?  Wait… no… we’ve made progress. Now we can predict who has a higher chance of maybe getting these diseases so we can chop of their body parts preemptively.

Really?!

What is this? The civil war battlefield?

You’re telling me we can decode the human genome, detect the “god-particle” inside and atom, fly a spacecraft outside the solar system and put the entire contents of the library of congress into a device that will fit in my purse but we can’t cure sick people without mutilating them and putting them through hell on earth?  Come on Big Pharma. You can do better.

And then there is the other side of the money thing.  If I choose to buy… say… Kraft cream cheese over the Meijer brand because Kraft has a pink ribbon on their box and I want $.01 worth of my purchase to support breast cancer awareness doesn’t that mean that Kraft is profiting from the suffering of millions?  It’s not as thought they’re going to give 100% of the profits from my purchase. They’re running a business. They want to make money. And that’s OK. Hooray for Capitalism.  But I’m not sure that playing on people’s sympathies for the suffering of the ill through some token donation toward “awareness” is OK.

I was talking about all this recently with my big sister who is one of the wisest and most discerning people I know.  She always seeks to see every side of a debate.

She has fought hard to keep her own body healthy and strong and she has had her heart broken as she has watched some of her dearest loved ones suffer through the horror of a cancer diagnosis and the brutal treatments only to die too soon anyway.

She lives in the Indianapolis area. The medical industry is to Indy what the automotive industry is to Detroit.  If the medical folks ever packed up and left the place would be ruined. There is a hospital, a laboratory, a drug company or an insurance building on every corner.  Since October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” the city is sporting more pink right now than a 3-year-old girl with a passion for Barbie Fashion.

I was muttering about it.  “A whole month of being aware of disease. Blech! Where’s all that money going anyway? Into paying for all those BMWs and Audi’s I see driving around this city, I suppose. Mutter mutter grumble grumble.”

She said, “When I helped raise money for the Susan B. Komen Foundation  I wasn’t even thinking about the money going to research, so much. A lot of what we raised paid for support services.  They provided wigs and bras and things like spa treatments after chemo. It was a way of showing the person with cancer that we loved them and we were there for them.  It was for the survivors, too. It’s such a helpless feeling when your loved one is diagnosed… giving to these causes makes you feel like you’re doing something to help.”

Huh.

Well, poop.

I never thought of it that way.

I hate it when I realize I’ve been acting out of ignorance!

I considered her words for several days.  I realized I had missed the point of the “awareness” campaigns, at least in large part.

Maybe, just maybe, I need to re-think that pink key chain.  Because maybe, just maybe, some woman I encounter who has just had her life turned upside down by the results of a mammogram needs to see that she’s not facing her nightmare alone.

I still have my reservations about the ethics of where the money is going. I still don’t think that the drug companies and so forth are entirely on the up and up about everything.  But if the organization is legit, as many are, well… maybe I’ll have to rethink my little boycott.

I still believe we need to stop putting so much awareness on disease and dysfunction and drugs and start putting more time and money and research into creating healthy society so that our bodies don’t malfunction in the first place.  We need to stop focusing on illness and start focusing on the amazing strength of the human spirit.save-the-tatas-big-or-small

But maybe… just maybe… I’ll buy a “Save the Ta-Tas” shirt someday because I think women’s bodies are beautiful and I think that the precious spirits that are housed within them deserve to know that we are all in this crazy life together.

When I see some of the ladies I know who have fought more bravely, strongly, and gracefully to regain their health than I probably ever could I want THEM to know that I love them, I am proud of them, I am in awe of them, and I support THEM (not their disease).  I want them to know that I do believe they are warriors and I do believe they will be victorious in this battle.

I would love to know how you feel about this.  Why do you (or don’t you) buy “ribbon products?”

Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?

Why not follow LazyHippieMama on WordPress, by email, Facebook or Twitter to get all the updates.

If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve! 

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14 responses »

  1. Hello my friend. I don’t buy these products because I feel that they fit into the commercial hiatus between selling seasons. OF COURSE the woman who has sympathy for the cause will buy the margarine with the pink bow! And who benefits? The manufacturer of course! Why else would they do it.
    I had breast cancer 20 years ago, so I should be moved emotionally by these appeals. Well, I’m not. Now and again I will buy a little ribbon from a stall but really does wearing a little pink ribbon make someone else examine their breasts regularly? That is the awareness we need to cultivate in women through education about the chances of getting cancer, and the ways one can avoid it! Sometimes things happen beyond our control, no matter how careful we are, and that is where GOD comes in!
    OK now I’ll get off my soap box! 🙂 Have a great day

    • Thank you for commenting! You make a great deal of sense. I agree that education is vital. When we are knowledgeable about how our bodies work and when we need to seek medical attention and which tests are useful and so forth, we can avoid much of the nastiness that happens. So glad you took the time to stop by! 🙂

  2. I think you’ve made many interesting points. I don’t buy the products because I think manufacturers are using a serious issue to sell more products; plus they donate such a small portion! If they were really committed they’d donate more! I enjoy participating and donating to the walks and fundraisers.

  3. I can honestly say that when I first started reading this I was mad at what I was reading. You have an opinion and the right to voice it like anyone else. Then I softened. I guess coming from a family that battles and I mean BATTLES cancer meaning my mother stepdad sister grandmother aunts and numerous cousins I wasn’t reading about companies I was reading about my family. We participate in many cancer funding activities and right now a little boy from our community is battling cancer in Ann Arbor far from his home. I don’t care if the big companies make money as long as some of it goes to finding a cure. My son was very sick with a bowel disease and twenty years ago he would have died without research. Where ever there is good someone tries to make a profit, but without the research that God gave those people that are doing it we would not be where we are today. My mother would not be alive and my sister would have been undiagnosed. I am glad you see some good in it. There are places that you can donate directly to a family. My mom got bras so she could feel good about herself and my sister got wigs so she could continue to smile as she went to her job as a nurse. I love pink and red and blue and will support it no matter what because my family has benefitted from them all.

  4. I’d rather support the breast cancer patients/survivors in my life by donating the money to THEM or by buying groceries, helping, sitting with them, etc. If I find something I like I might buy something if I like it, but I don’t need to clutter my life with junk just to donate .01 cents to breast cancer awareness.

  5. I don’t go out of my way to buy the products or avoid them. If a favorite brand is sporting a label, or if a competitors brand is, I’m going to stick with what I know and like.
    I do think awareness is important. I love walks for the cure, and think donating to Susan B. Komen is a wonderful thing, because of all those things your sister said. I’ve lost some wonderful women in my life to breast cancer, and providing them with a support network is important to me.
    I just don’t know about my $.01 on each product being a good choice when I could make a direct donation. Again, I won’t avoid it – if I’m going to buy something anyway and it donates to the cause, I might as well. I think my vegetable peeler is pink because it was on sale, not because it added a donation – that’s just an extra perk.

  6. This is such a fantastic thought-provoking piece as usual! I’m glad you have highlighted this, because I too have had my doubts about these ‘awareness’ campaigns but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I feel terrible for having negative thoughts about what is essentially a charitable campaign but like you say, sometimes you have to read between the lines. A good friend of mine worked as a campaigns manager for a huge global charity. She told me that when they did their huge concerts, with the hundreds of celebrities and pop stars, most celebrities did not waive their appearance fee and some even demanded more than the fee, which of course came from the donated fund and ticket sales. Isn’t that awful? I understand a pop star needs to make money but maybe they should only do one charity event a year and lose out on their fee for just that event. Instead of doing lots of charity events (for postive exposure) and expecting to be paid for all those appearances. This really opened my eyes to these charity events and as you point out, the uncertainty as to where all this money goes and what is done with it. And as you rightly say, it is hard not to be cynical when big multi-national companies are promoting these campaigns alongside the sales of their products, of course their are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts – yeah right! There are definitely many other ways to support charitable organisations and this route would be the last on my list, if on my list at all! Great post x

  7. Ok…having just recently battled cancer (and WON!) I have to admit I was a little put off at first. I raise money for Susan G. Komen every year and work on the crew at the event. Why? Because without Komen, our town would not have a breast cancer center that gives wigs and treatments for FREE to all those women who can’t afford them. I say, instead of buying products, donate directly to those causes that provide services in much needed communities. I have many shirts and other products I have bought over the years, but all are from either the 3 Day walk or local fundraisers for people in my community. Awareness and education is SO needed about prevention. I have 3 important women in my life that are breast cancer survivors, including my most loved Aunt and a friend who is my age. Those people are why I work so hard every year to raise money for Komen and why I spend 3 days with grueling hours donating my time to all those doing a 60 mile walk. Just something to think about…

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