This breast cancer survivor says, “Step away from the pink!!”

How do you know it’s October?

You know because the black cats and pumpkins that you buy for Halloween have that little pink ribbon on them telling you that you are a good person for buying that particular product so a donation can be made to….um…some breast cancer organization…um……which one?…uuuuuh…I don’t know…….what?…no, I don’t know how much money and where it’s going, but I know I’m doing something good, right?

Companies that make everything from tampons to handguns (no joke) just love to put that little pink ribbon on their products as if to say…”buy me and you’ll feel better about yourself”.  I mean…who doesn’t want to buy something from a company that will give a donation to breast cancer funds? Are you totally heartless????

I would rather be heartless than smart-less.

Breast Cancer Action is an organization that acts as a watchdog of the breast cancer movement.  They are the only breast cancer organization that does not accept donations from companies that would profit from cancer….including pharmaceutical companies who make billions from people getting cancer.  (just think what a cure would do to all those poor little drug companies…)

They launched a campaign starting in 2002 called “Think Before You Pink“.  their goal was to go after companies that try to hide behind their little pink ribbon and promote their donations to finding a cure for breast cancer, while they produce products that directly contribute to the disease! (actually,the whole “pink ribbon idea” was hi-jacked from a woman who was handing out peach-colored ribbons in the 1990’s  trying to raise public awareness that only 5% of the entire NIH budget was earmarked for cancer prevention.  Self magazine approached her to buy the idea and promote it, but she didn’t want the meaning behind the ribbon to become commercialized. Self took it anyway, changed the color to pink and the rest is history…sorry Charlotte Haley….)

Some companies can use the pink color and not give any money to anything. If a products states that “buying this will promote breast cancer awareness”, that means they are promoting “breast cancer awareness” by making their product pink in some way, and thereby “reminding women” that they should get mammograms….they can do this legally and not have to ever give a penny of the proceeds to any organization.

Aren’t you a little sick of seeing the pink, but are afraid to say something because it’s not sensitive to those who have breast cancer? A major Philadelphia newspaper conducted a poll that showed over 70% of people think the pink thing actually de-sensitizes us all to the actual message and acts as a turn off.


Hurry and get your raffle ticket for these pink semi-automatics sponsored by Susan G Komen


One example is Yoplait yogurt.  I’m sure you are familiar with the pink foil tops that we all removed, licked off, and put in envelopes to be mailed to Yoplait so that Susan G Komen could get your 10 cents to go towards “finding a cure”.  Well, I hate to tell you this, but in order to send the label, you had to eat the yogurt…..Yoplait yogurt was made with dairy that came from cows injected with rBGH….a growth hormone that is linked to several kinds of cancer…one of which is breast cancer.

You may be needing those donated funds sooner than you thought….

A successful campaign by Breast Cancer Action put enough pressure on Yoplait, that they agreed to stop using rBGH laden dairy for their yogurt. Their fight won them the BENNY award for business ethics in 2009.

Another donor that was just added to the list is Oregon Cherry growers. They manufacture maraschino cherries: those gorgeous, red, artificial-looking cherries that sit atop your hot fudge sundae.

While cherries are pretty and add that certain “je ne sais croix” to a Manhattan, they certainly would not be on any “breast cancer prevention” diet.

You may find it interesting to know the process of producing maraschino cherries. Please go to this article and you ,too, can reads the 5 page instructions on how to make the marachino cherry…complete with all the chemical formulas and up to date preservative information (college level chemistry knowledge required…).

Ingredient list:

  • cherries (thank God that is the first ingredient)
  • water,
  • high fructose corn syrup–you all know how I feel about that!
  • citric acid,
  • artificial flavors,
  • sodium benzoate,
  • potassium sorbate,
  • FD & C red #40 (thank goodness it’s not the red dye #3 that causes cancer)
  • sulfur dioxide.

Yummm!!! Look for that pink ribbon, and please…eat jars and jars so that they can donate money to “finding a cure”!

Just for the record, and in case you didn’t know, I am a “survivor” (no immunity necklace…damn!), and yeah, my boobs are in a lab somewhere frozen, sliced up, and ready for research.  But if I could pick one of two things, I would want research on prevention…vs research to find a cure.

There are 2.5 million survivors in the US, but there are 150 million women in the US who have not yet claimed that pink ribbon as their identity (including my 2 daughters).  How about focusing on them?

There is a definite link between the environment and breast cancer:

  • 70% of those with breast cancer have no known risk factors (that’s me–a poster child for health–I mean I’m a cardiac nurse for Pete’s sake–)
  • non-industrialized countries have lower breast cancer rates than industrialized countries
  • those who move to industrialized countries from countries with low rates develop cancer rates of those from industrialized countries.
  • production and use of harmful chemicals are on the rise. Check out this site for more info on stuff in our food supply

The idea of looking to the environment to try to identify causes and shunning commercialization is catching on. The Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, formed in 2006 has made their organizational goals clear:

  • Focus on environmental links to breast cancer that will lead to primary prevention of breast cancer
  • challenge the commercialization of breast cancer

Two major funding organizations for breast cancer are the Susan G Komen foundation and the National Institutes for Health–both of which focus on treatment and early detection, and “a cure”– not on prevention by identifying environmental hazards such as pesticides, plastics, and chemicals in our cosmetics.

The Susan G Komen foundation, while doing a great good by promoting awareness (I think we can all say we are painfully aware…..) and funding “research” also has become a mega-million dollar corporate operation.  They know they have the best money making charity….a woman’s charity, that affects hundreds of thousands and their families, and that is not controversial (women’s charities are synonymous with caring and love–think of mothers..and when you add breasts…well that’s a no-brainer). But when the Susan G Komen organization does not discriminate where their funds come from (anti-Semitic countries??*** and drug companies that promote cancer and profit from cancer treatments?) one has to question what fuels this out of control train. Just read the comments from the Charity Navigator…a watchdog organization for charities and you see that people have problem with many things related to this “fund raising organization” …like the CEO earning over $500,000/yr salary, and Susan G Komen’s web site promoting chemo drugs from companies that are major donors.

I mean, if I was a drug company that made billions off of people getting breast cancer, why would I donate to a charity that is on the path to finding a cure?

But even with all the money and all the pink, “we’re not closer to the cure” says Marisa Weiss, founder of and “one vaccine won’t be a cure-all”.

Here’s where this survivor stands:

  1. I think  all cancer sucks and there should be less of it.
  2. That said I think more needs to be done to study the causes of the disease so we can work towards prevention.
  3. If I am going to donate money to an organization, I will find out where the money goes…for sure. (enter the name of your charity at Charity Navigator and they will give you a complete breakdown of where your money goes)
  4. Early detection is great!! and saved my life…but early detection is not a cure (Susan G Komen’s Race for the Early Detection and Treatment just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
  5. We all know someone who is either battling this disease, or has a family member who is.  Small acts of kindness go a long way–a card (I saved all my cards from well wishers, and they were a source of strength for me) or a phone call for support or making a meal, or driving to the store for them etc…and that costs nothing.
  6. I will not jump to buy the pink package of tennis balls or batteries. Sorry, KFC, I won’t be buying your “Bucket for the Cure”…but not because it’s pink…

There is a wealth of information at:

“We have to question our willingness as cancer organizations to get into bed with people whose ultimate goal is profit, not health,” says Barbara Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action in San Fransisco. And her point—that corporate benevolence is linked with the appearance of care rather than active solutions—is supported by history. After all, homelessness was the darling corporate cause once, in the years before welfare reform…..

***major damage control was very successful and in 2010, the ADL honored Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of the Susan G Komen Foundation for her “history of service to the Jewish community”. Nice recovery…..

Categories: breast cancer awareness, thoughts, Uncategorized

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