Why buying “pink” may do more damage than good
By Cissy Brady-Rogers
This Thanksgiving I’ll be 25 years out from the horrific holiday season I spent being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. The first few years I walked or ran in “Pink” fundraisers, only to find out later that the companies organizing the events were pulling in huge profits. I wore pink ribbons or related products, only to discover that in some cases only a minor percentage of the profits went to anything breast cancer related.
Over the years I’ve discovered that “Thinking Pink” is as much to benefit companies using the slogan as it is to increase awareness. Some companies claim to care about breast cancer yet produce, manufacture or sell products with chemicals linked to the disease. And some department stores, clothing and accessory manufactures and other companies that sell pink products donate only a small percentage of the profits to the effort. That’s why I don’t buy pink anymore.
I’m grateful for awareness that allowed me and other early diagnosis patients (AKA my “bosom buddies”) to live full and long lives post-cancer, but I’m not buying any pink products. If I want to give money to raise awareness or research I’ll give it directly to the providers of those services.
Katy’s story reveals the subtle way companies use breast cancer to promote the very products that contain chemicals linked to cancer. They don’t do it maliciously…at least I hope not. But, as my wise spouse often points out, corporations don’t have a soul. They have no moral compass to guide their decisions. The bottom-line is…the bottom-line. Morals and ethics are a side-note at best and most often not even a part of the conversations about how to do business.
While companies that use the “Think Pink” slogan to sell pink hats, shoes, shirts and other products may give some or all of the profits to breast cancer research and advocacy, the companies do it for their own sake as much as for those of us impacted by the disease. Certainly, the decision to give breast cancer patients products full of toxic chemicals linked to the disease wasn’t done with morality or justice as the bottom-line.
I’ll be celebrating life with a number of other friends who’ve survived cancer, heart attacks and other life threatening illnesses at our annual ThanksLiving party next month. And we’ll be serving as much organic, close to nature food and drink as available. After 25 years I am still careful to eat organic and use personal care products with as few human created chemicals as possible. I’m convinced that the pesticide and hormone laden foods I ate during childhood and puberty played a role in activating cancer. That’s why I support Breast Cancer Action’s work in the world. They focus much of their effort toward awareness of the role environmental toxins play in the onset of breast cancer – something the tradition medical industry refuses to address.
As Katy’s story exemplifies, if companies really had her welfare in mind, they’d do something other than provide free products that contain chemicals that interrupt the effectiveness of the medication she’s taking to prevent reoccurrence. And, if they really had the interests of women at risk or living with breast cancer, they’d invest all the time, money and energy spent on developing pink promotional products toward direct services for those in need rather than pocket a portion for themselves.
I’m all for increasing awareness about breast cancer and the benefits of early detection. But let’s “Think Pink” in a conscious and ethical way!
Celebrating life with Anna, Susan and “bosom buddy” Pam at our annual “ThankLiving” party