I think it bears repeating.
I know. I know. You think I am a horrible person. But before you throw rotten eggs at my blog, please listen. I have something that I need to get off my chest.
I am a woman who lost her mother to breast cancer. My mom had buried her own mother after a similar battle. That puts me next in line. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky. But I have a sister, I have a daughter, and I have two granddaughters. That is what haunts me.
I don't mean to offend, but I look in their beautiful faces and my thoughts echo Jeanne Sather*, cancer survivor and blogger, who says:
I felt guilty when I was rankled by the pink Stepford like haze that surrounds cancer patients, including my mother. Sometimes it threatened to suffocate her and silence her real voice, and she felt it keenly. When she spoke about her anger and frustration she was treated like a pariah by those who should have understood her feelings best. She nursed her mother then later set about nursing herself - without peer support. I read Welcome to Cancerland by Barbara Ehrenreich, and shared it with her. We found we both agreed with her, and understood that we weren't crazy - or alone.
Think Before You Pink details the many ways "supporting breast cancer awareness" can turn out to be an illusion, or worse. There are many good people and trustworthy companies, but when advertising and capital loom large in the picture, it is important to be aware and educated.
Here is a link with some important questions you should ask before buying a pink ribbon product to 'support the fight against breast cancer.' It leads to a pdf file.
Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge anyone any thing that comforts and supports them in such a time of need. But, by the same token, those who don't share the same ways should never be made to feel wrong, as they often are, as my mother was.
My mother found comfort in the words of Dylan Thomas.
Do not go gentle into that good night, / Old age should burn and rave at close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light. . . .
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, / And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, / Do not go gentle into that good night.
Although she bought every colored ribbon produced for a disease or cause, she found the idea of a pink teddy bear, or many of the other pink offerings for 'survivors,' demoralizing. She was a grown woman, proud of the experience and scars accumulated along the way, and she refused to accept the submissive role of child - even symbolically. And she hated pink; blue was her favorite color.
She never met her grandbabies, she died peacefully in her sleep after having fought to retain her independence, identity, and sense of humor. I miss her terribly. And my favorite color is red.
*Jeanne Sather has two blogs, The Assertive Cancer Patient, where she continues her work as an outspoken advocate for the cancer patient’s point of view, and Charmed Bracelets, a new blog launched in May of 2009 to sell her handmade jewelry. An example of her beautiful work is pictured above.
If You Would Like to Support Breast Cancer Research,
without supporting Komen . . . try:
Breast Cancer Action - "We demand accountability."
See also: 'Think before you pink' campaign, demanding transparency in pink-washed product marketing.
"A cure is not enough. We have to prevent it." - Executive Director Karuna Jaggar.
American Cancer Society - Donations intended for breast cancer research and screening can be earmarked to support NBCCEDP (the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program).
They have focused heavily on social disparities as they relate to cancer diagnosis and treatment, and have awarded more than $113 million in grants to researchers looking into social disparity as it relates to cancer.
The National Breast Cancer Coalition - They aim to promote research into causes of breast cancer and the best possible treatment for the disease, access to treatment for all women, and encourage breast cancer advocates to speak up and stand up against the disease.
While the Susan G. Komen foundation has raised about $1.9 billion for breast cancer over the course of the organization's 30-year existence, last year the NBCC convinced Congress to award more than $2.1 billion to breast cancer research. And they did it without the middleman.
The Breast Cancer Research Foundation - Ninety cents of every dollar donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation goes to supporting breast cancer research. (Komen only gives about 20 cents per dollar to research)
Unite For Her - Unite For Her aims to help breast cancer patients integrate other therapies that would complement the care they're being given by their doctors. Think acupuncture, massage, yoga, counseling, and other treatments that address a woman's spiritual and emotional needs during what could be a long and difficult fight against cancer.
The organization's aim is to "educate, empower, and restore."
According to Breast Cancer Action's Executive Director Karuna Jaggar, breast cancer isn't overfunded; its funding is poorly allocated, being spent on organizational bloat. ...
Source: Erin Gloria Ryan, Jezebel.
[UPDATED 10/1/12 to add links and smooth prose.]