Breast Cancer “Month”? Ugh!

You’ve all seen them by now or purchased many products with those little pink ribbons. You know the ones I’m talking about. Yes, the Breast Cancer Ribbon. The pink ribbons are in full force in the market today. You’ve seen them at the grocery stores, restaurants, at athletic events, in schools etc. Their prevalence is undeniable. But the real question is do they do any good?
As a former Oncology nurse when I found out the answer I was not only slightly disturbed but literally angry beyond words. And here is why.

Many women believe that the history of the Pink ribbon was the sole responsibility of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. It may surprise you to know that the Pink ribbon actually started off being Peach in color. The first ribbon was created by Charlotte Haley in 1990 after she became alarmed by the number of Breast Cancer diagnosis in her immediate family. Even more alarming to Mrs. Haley was the lack of federal commitment to cancer prevention. She began attaching peach ribbons to post cards that read “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is $1.8 billion, only 5 percent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.” She distributed these postcards throughout her community and it began getting national attention.

Self magazine and Estee Lauder cosmetics noticed how powerful this ribbon was becoming and approached Mrs. Haley to use her Peach ribbon as a promotional tool during Breast Cancer Awareness Month on products. Mrs. Haley turned the offers down as she was not interested in commercializing her ribbon. Self and Estee Lauder consulted with lawyers who told them they could have the ribbon as long as they simply changed the color. This is how the Pink Ribbon was born.

Now over 30 years later the same problem exists. Very little, if anything, is being done to “End Breast Cancer Forever”. This may surprise you, due to how much we hear about Breast Cancer and see so many “pink” items promoted. One would think plenty was being done towards ending the epidemic. This is my major hang up with the color Pink. When you buy something with that little pink ribbon, you may get this feeling that you are contributing to a good cause. That you are somehow helping someone you love from getting the disease. You may also have a false sense that the problem is “being taken care of”. But according to the statistics I’m about to share with you, this is the farthest from the truth.
One of the major problems with the pink ribbon is that there is NO regulations on how anyone uses the Pink Ribbon. In fact, someone can claim to simply “Support Breast Cancer” and put the ribbon on their product, without paying a single dime to any program for the cause. Even more disturbing the product can in fact contain chemicals that have been researched and proven to cause breast cancer itself. These companies are called ‘Pinkwashers’. This term was coined by the Breast Cancer Action organization(BCA). An orginazation who is committed to ending breast cancer where it starts.

I want to say up front that I am not against people donating money to organizations. But I want them to be aware of where their money is going. If they want to donate to companies that are looking at drug therapies to treat the disease then so be it. But the majority of women I know want to donate to an organization that is going towards “Ending Breast Cancer” all together. This unfortunately is not being done by 99% of the organizations.

According to Susan G. Komen’s portfolio for fiscal year 2008-2009, they received $151,084,372 in donations. Only 7% of this went towards Prevention. The focus on Breast Cancer is towards the “CURE” NOT Prevention. So what’s the difference you may ask? Cure by definition means to ‘Relieve (a person or an animal) of the symptoms of a disease or condition’ or is ‘a substance or treatment that cures a disease or condition’. I’m sorry, but when you attend a 3- Day Walk, or Race for the Cure, Avon Walk, etc isn’t the majority of women there on a mission to “END BREAST CANCER FOREVER!”? I mean we have all heard the commercials reiterating this phrase over and over by now right? So why then are these foundations and organizations not spending our hard earned money towards this?

This may give you a little insight on why. One of the biggest promoters of the pink ribbon is the Breast Cancer Awareness Month(BCAM), which was created by several bodies that are now known today as AstraZeneca. Which is a leading pharmaceutical company in the world. Specifically, they Own Aptium Oncology Cancer centers throughout the country. They also manufacture and sell the cancer drug Tamoxifen and the #1 breast cancer drug Arimidex. Most of your hard earned donations are going to this company and many more who are all tied together in huge circles of profit. Do you really think for a second that they are interested in “Ending Breast Cancer Forever”? How would they make their millions on the treatment of breast cancer?

According to the National Cancer Institute on Breast Cancer statistics, 1 in 8 women WILL develop Breast Cancer in the US today. This number has increased from 1 in 20 in the 1960s and 1 in 14 in the 1980s. It is the #2 Cause of Cancer Deaths in Women. Nearly 2 million women in America are currently diagnosed and being treated for Breast Cancer. There were 1.6 million NEW cases among women worldwide in 2010. So ask yourself, are we getting closer to ending the epidemic? Not even close!

As a former Oncology nurse I have a personal responsibility to raise these issues and spread the word to change the conversations towards true prevention. There are MANY action steps you can take to give yourself the best chance at preventing the disease. EVEN if you have the so called “gene”. Simple things like addressing diet, testing critical blood levels like vitamin D3, detoxifying your body, choosing not to use toxic products and much more. Regardless if you are already diagnosed with the disease, these steps still apply. Be empowered to take control of your health naturally. I am here to help you do just that. Visit this website to learn how you can help change the conversation Think Before You Pink