Seeing pink makes me see red

…but it makes big corporate sponsors see green.

I was never fond of pink.  Even dressing up as a little girl, pink just wasn’t my color.images-6

As most of you are “aware”, breast cancer awareness month is upon us.  But the reason you won’t find this breast cancer survivor touting “pink” on my blog  is that pink has been corrupted.  The beautiful ribbon that connected  breast cancer survivors together and signified hope has been taken over by big business.  The pink ribbon is now splashed across endless products from toasters to handguns and from pepper spray to canned soup.


The ones that really get me fired up are the companies that produce cancer causing products and then also profit off of women who get cancer.   Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals  is one.  This pharmaceutical company who produces rBGH, a growth hormone given to cows (rBGH is linked to breast cancer), also manufactures Gemzar, a chemotherapy agent and Evista , a drug that reduces risk of breast cancer in high risk women.  You have to admit, they’re crafty and smart if nothing else.Unknown-2

I am all for companies supporting research and funding mammograms for those who don’t have access to them.  But mammograms don’t seem to be saving lives (even though I still would recommend one to all women) and the funds happily donated don’t always go into the hands of the researchers.  Companies who make products that you purchase to “support awareness” may never give a dime to any breast cancer organization.  Their reasoning is that just by putting a pink ribbon on the product, they are raising “awareness”.


This is a real ad. Virginia Slims announced their “Pink Purse Packs” during breast cancer awareness month 2007

Thanks.  I think we’re all “aware” now.

Things haven’t really changed much since my original post on the subject 3 years ago.  And despite all the awareness and billions of dollars raised, the incidence of breast cancer and the death rates have barely budged.  Women die of stage 4 breast cancer, (stage 4 is when the cancer has spread to another body part) not 0,1,2, or 3, and 30% of women who have the earlier stages will go on to develop stage 4. Yet less than 3% of all breast cancer funding goes towards stage 4 research.

As I posted in a previous post, if you want to donate to breast cancer research, please investigate your charity carefully.  Charity Navigator is a great tool for that.  And please don’t buy the pink darth vader sculpture because you want to support breast cancer research.  Give directly to the charity and let Hasbro Toys get rich some other way. (Unless you truly want this amazing piece of art)



Or better yet, do something nice for someone you know who is going through treatment.  (If you don’t know anyone, you’re lucky.)   Every town has a cancer outreach program.  I encourage you to search yours out and contact them to do some volunteering.  They usually have meal programs for patients who need help. A home cooked meal is like a Godsend to someone with a family who is going through treatment.  If you don’t cook, you can mow their lawn, drive them to a treatment, make them a cozy blanket (chemo makes you cold) or just be their company.

This post is not to discourage you to give.  Rather, it’s to encourage you to give wisely.  Don’t get caught in the advertising trap.  Here’s to your survival….of Pinktober!


This is not a real ad (obviously) but it might as well be. (I love the warning on this pack!)

Categories: blogging, breast cancer, breast cancer awareness, cancer, women's health

23 replies

  1. I agree with you completely! It’s unfortunate, but, so true… if a company can see a way of profiting from a campaign, they will be all over it. My grandmother had cancer. I think it’s impossible in this day and age not to know someone who has been affected by the disease. I have been a nurse for many years also (cardiac surgery, ICU, and now emergency), so, I believe in what is done through medicine. But, I left nursing for several years and I was in medical sales, so, I know first hand the amount of time, energy, thought (I would really like to say conniving), and money that is spent on advertising to make the sale. Pink has gone the route of Green. Everyone is “green” and everyone has something “pink” they want you to buy. As you said, give, but give wisely!

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this. The research is actually promising for a vaccine, but with so many different forms of breast cancer I’m not sure it will be helpful for all forms. it just boggles the mind all the $$ spent and we really don’t have the survival rates and occurrence rate shifts to show for it.

  2. Dear Savvy Sister,how right you are to give wisely.
    Here in Australia we have pink bread .
    I try to do nice things for people with cancer,like giving some cash,I just put some money in the envelope(without my name).

  3. GREAT POST!! My mama had breast cancer in 2005, and thankfully they caught it early on. Nothing makes me more angry than companies like this.

  4. Totally agree! I hate the “pinkification” of products in October, and I have first degree relative survivors so breast cancer is a topic near and dear to me. It’s comical to read things like, “For every purchase, 5% will be donated to breast cancer research”. Really? 5%? Honestly, the proportion donated should match the proportion of pukey pink on their product. For example, the Vader head – 100% of the sale of that piece of crap should go to research…;)

  5. I hate pink too! I prefer to support through the London Moonwalk and Walk The Walk, plus my regular cancer research donation. There has always been a suspicion that a lot of these jump on the bandwagon things are just for profit, you’ve confirmed my suspicion.

  6. Some guys selling cans of chemicals to make cars pretty walked up to me at a gas station. When I told them I was not interested, the last pitch was offered: “part of the profits go to breast cancer research.”

  7. Well said. You have put into words something I have been thinking for a long time. It’s great that we now have increased awareness. I live in a country where 15 years ago the word ‘breast’ was taboo so these campaigns have done their job. Now everything is an obligatory pink in October. Eating a pink cupcake will not help reduce breast cancer.

  8. I have long hated this pinkification and marketing wheeze. Luckily in the UK this hasn’t taken off and we are spared the dubious marketing connections and confusion about how much money really goes to research. The whole thing really stinks. The sooner breast cancer charities get the message that these links actually put many sensible and savvy people off giving in general, the better they can harness actual action and goodwill. I find it incredible that people think buying a darth vader mask really helps fight breast cancer.It taps into consumerism in the most cynical way possible….I absolutely do think that charitable giving is vital (I work for a cancer charity so I seed how important this is first hand), but not via pink marketing. Initially it was unique but now it just looks trashy for the most part. LOL about the ciggie ads – real and spoofed. Whew. Rant finished. Carry on. Great stuff from you Susan, as always

  9. YIKES!! Some of these ads are crazy!! I like your personal touch idea…of doing something nice for someone you know that has been effected by breast cancer or join a local organization. Very informative..thanks for the great post!

    • The one charity I do love is Stand Up to Cancer . A portion of the book I co-wrote is going there. We wanted to put their logo on our book, but they wouldn’t let us stating that it’s like advertising. We happily give 10% of our intake to them because they cut through the BS in research. Instead of making scientists compete for research dollars, they form teams of great minds from around the world to come together in cooperation, not competition. That way results are reached faster.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment!


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