September 30, 2012

Story about a ribbon

If you know me a little then you must know pink is my favourite colour. Pink is cute, sweet and soft. Pink is always happy. Pink is cosy. Well none of these things have anything to do with breast cancer.

It's almost October. Or Pinktober as some of you call it. Breast Cancer Awareness month. I'm still a newbie, but hooray, an entire month devoted to my disease.

Only 5-10% of breast cancers are inherited and linked to a gene mutation from a parent. So yes, that means that more than 85% of breast cancers are sporadic and we have no idea what's causing it. In the 1940s 1 in 22 women was diagnosed with breast cancer. Today it's 1 in 8. These aren't just numbers. These aren't just pink ribbons. These are actually people we're talking about here. Women with faces, with family... wives, mothers and daughters.

Back to Breast Cancer Awareness month. Awareness. If you do not know women can get breast cancer by now, you my friend have been living under a rock.

Wearing The Pink Ribbon

I watched Pink Ribbon Inc., a documentary that shows how some companies use pink ribbon-related marketing to increase sales while contributing only a small fraction of proceeds to the cause, or use "pinkwashing" to improve their public image while manufacturing products that may be carcinogenic. It's absolutely disgusting! For the millions that are raised for breast cancer research by the campaign, the film argues that not enough money goes to prevention or exploring possible environmental factors.

Don't get me wrong I think there are many great initiatives out there who help women go through this tough journey. Even if it just makes this roller coaster ride a little easier it's worth it! After all we're here, now. But again, the numbers are upsetting.

More than 60% of funds raised and donated in North America are being put back into awareness campaigns. Currently only 5% of funds raised and donated in North America are being used towards prevention research.

Same story with the Dutch Pink Ribbon organisation. By selling ribbons, magazines etc. they raised 16 million euro in 2011. Only 288.000 euro went to research; 7 million euro was still in the bank, 1 million euro was reserved for Pink Ribbon itself.

Basically we still slash, burn and poison breast cancer because we don't know what else to do with it. I just want you to know there ARE initiatives out there like Army of Women that are looking at the disease from different angles. They are not just doing studies on women who have had breast cancer and are being treated for it. But also on women who have never had the disease at all. If we could just understand the complexities then maybe one day...

So no we do not need an entire month of awareness. It makes me feel very uncomfortable because there are many other forms of cancer out there who deserve just as much attention. No we definitely do not need to buy all of that pink crap.

The first ribbon was made by 68-year-old Charlotte Haley, the granddaughter, sister, and mother of women who had battled breast cancer. She had began a peach-coloured ribbon campaign to press the National Cancer Institute to increase its budget for cancer prevention research. She was approached by Estée Lauder and Self Magazine who wanted to use her ribbons. Charlotte Haley refused to be part of what she felt was a commercial effort, so Estée Lauder and Self Magazine changed the colour of their ribbon to pink in 2005, to circumvent Charlotte Haley's efforts to stop them.

I think the ribbon needs to go back to its roots and its original intentions.


  1. Amen!

    So glad you watched the film. I posted about the HOW Study and Army of Women today.

    Big hugs to you sista! xoxo

  2. love this post and also your blog! It's so nice!!! I follow you!
    Pass to my blog and if it likes you follow me too, I will be so glad :D