It’s Pinktober. And unless you are living under a rock, you’ve gotten the message that October is all about the ta-tas. Everywhere you look, there will be companies putting on the pink to support breast cancer awareness. The NFL will be wearing pink gloves and shoes, and dozen of products will be sporting little pink ribbons. Lots of people will be up in arms about how much money actually goes to fund breast cancer programs and research (now called pinkwashing), while others will tell us how much good the pinking of October does for the cause.
This is my first October as a member of “the club”. When I was first diagnosed, the only pink I thought about was Pepto Bismol because the whole thing made me pretty sick to my stomach. I remember the day that I got the news at the radiology center. That morning, I had been collecting the tschotckas scattered around the office: the free Tic Tacs, pens, hand lotion and Schick razors. After learning that the lump they found was, most likely, malignant, I left all the pink goodies in a pile on the floor in the dressing room; my thoughts screaming, “Fuck you, pink and the ribbon you rode in on.”
A few days after my surgery, I asked the head of the Breast Health Center how she could stand being surrounded by pink all the time. She had the right answer: if seeing pink reminded one more woman to get a breast exam, she’d wear pink every day. My oncologist wears pink socks every day which, no doubt, saves his wife the time of making pairs. I’ve come to understand the importance of the whole pink thing but I have mixed emotions about it having a “month.” Survivors will tell you that every month is breast cancer awareness month. Personally, I can’t wait for that day when I realize that I haven’t thought about it for 24 hours. But if it takes a designated month to remind women to do their monthly exams and have an annual mammo, so be it.
Frankly, I feel bad for Eye Injury Month, Dental Hygiene Month, Down Syndrome Month and Domestic Violence Month, that have to share the October spotlight with breast cancer. Certainly the NFL has closer ties to (cough) one of those other causes.
Before you buy a product just because it’s gone pink, check out that company’s website to see just how much money is going to the cause. You can also use www.charitynavigator.org to learn how a charity stacks up. By doing so, I learned that Susan G. Komen’s sister, Nancy Brinker, who founded the well-known organization, made between $300,000 and over $650,000 a year for 30 years. She finally took an unpaid position this past June. This year, Yoplait, whose revenue for 2015 is $ 1.3 billion, is giving a $350,000 (about 1/4000th of one percent) to three charities (Komen included). Estee Lauder, on the other hand, is committing $5 million this year and has raised $47 million over the last 12 years. Tonight, Lauder is paying to light up the Empire State Building.
I hope you’ll do something that’s right for you this month to further the cause of breast cancer research and prevention. Now, where did I put that pink tee-shirt???