In matter of days, October will be upon us once again, and everywhere you look will be draped in pink ribbons and emblazoned with such words, like, “Brave!” “Survivor!” “Sisterhood!” “Strength!” When you turn on daytime morning television, the networks will be featuring early-stage survivors and once again, ignoring those living and dying from metastatic breast cancer. If you’re a fan of professional football, the NFL will be featuring bright, attention-grabbing pink gloves, shoes, and T-shirts, all for breast cancer awareness month (never mind the fact that October is domestic violence awareness month, and the NFL should seriously focus their attention on that problem). Also, the NFL donates “shockingly” little to breast cancer causes anyway.
Friends, if you are like me and recoil at the pink tchotchkes and offensive T-shirts with puns about breasts, then come sit next to me. We can plug our ears, close our eyes and sing happy songs to drown out all the noise because that’s what this is: noise.
However, if finding a corner to hide from the Pink Ribbon Biz Business until November isn’t feasible due to family, children, jobs, that sort of thing, then there are ways to survive with your sanity intact. Here are some ways you can fight back against Pink Ribbon Crap Spewing Machine, and most importantly, help those with breast cancer who need your support.
- Research > awareness
By the hammer of Thor, the word awareness has lost all meaning. It really has. I would love to find that one person residing in the U.S. who isn’t aware of the existence of breast cancer and ask them where they have been for the past two or three decades. A cave? A cabin in the woods? The fact of the matter is that we are all aware. In fact, we are all so aware that the general public doesn’t know much about breast cancer except for its existence. With all the T-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers and the thousands of other breast cancer-related products doesn’t teach anybody anything beyond the fact that breast cancer exists.
Did you know that approximately 40,000 die from metastatic breast cancer each year? My mom died from this disease in 1987 at the age of 40, so I have been aware of the fact that breast cancer is deadly since I was only 7 years old.
Did you know that men get breast cancer, too?
Did you know that breast cancer can present with a lump and if so, do you know the warning signs to look out for?
Did you know there are multiple subtypes of breast cancer, such as estrogen positive, Her2+ or triple negative breast cancer?
Did you know that a strong family history and/or genetic makes up small number of breast cancer diagnosis? (American Cancer Society estimates that number to be approximately 5 to 10 percent.)
If you have had a friend or family member go through or die from breast cancer and you want to help in a meaningful way, then support organizations who are researching breast cancer. Stand Up to Cancer, and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation are pretty awesome organizations. Personally, I support the organization Metavivor since 100 percent of their donations go toward research grants. I know I have made it very clear why I abhor the Susan G. Komen foundation, which leads me to my next point…..
- Think before you pink
This is just a great general rule to live by in a world saturated with pink products. If you are thinking of purchasing a product that says that X amount of proceeds go to X charity, then do a little research before buying the product. Questions to ask: is this a charity I feel comfortable receiving my money, or would I be better off just making a donation myself and writing off a tax deduction? You can research non-profit organizations on Charity Navigator.
Susan G. Komen receives 2 out of 4 stars, and as of September 27, 2015, it has an overall score of 78.97. It scored 70.53 percent in overall financial and 96 percent in accountability and transparency. Judith Solerno, CEO, received $209,120 in compensation, and Nancy G. Brinker received $480,784 in compensation (more than twice her CEO’s salary?).
Susan Love Research Foundation receives 3 out of 4 stars, and as of the same date, it has an oval score of 85.07. The foundation scored 80.09 percent in overall financial and 93 percent in accountability and transparency. Susan Love, president of the organization, received $225,000 in compensation.
Another important question to ask, according to the Breast Cancer Action organization:
What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?
Please see Breast Cancer Action’s website for examples of more than questionable campaigns created in the name of breast cancer awareness.
- Breast cancer is not a game – it’s a serious, deadly disease.
Weeks ago, it was brought to my attention that a new breast cancer status awareness game began. I may have sprained an eyeball from rolling it so hard at the stupidity of it this year, something about leprechauns or speeding tickets. I can’t keep up, nor do I want to keep up with this. Breast cancer is NOT a game, or a reason to take off your bra for… some reason that still doesn’t make sense to me.
Whenever I have seen this “game,” I have this conversation play out in my mind:
Me: Friend, I saw that you posted a weird status about getting out of a traffic ticket with a boob, and I know what you’re doing. Stahp. Just stahp.
Friend: But… I’m raising awareness for breast cancer? Isn’t that something you want?
Me: You haven’t raised awareness for anything except that you fall for stupid games and feel compelled to pass it along to unsuspecting folks on your friends list. You are literally helping nobody by this status.
Friend: You’re an asshole, Lara.
Me: Why that may be true, it doesn’t take away from the fact that you are literally helping nobody by this. Nobody. You haven’t shared any facts, links to any good blogs, organizations or call to actions. Literally nobody has come out of this the wiser.
Friend: [Unfriends Lara]
… and scene.
We can do this, Get Up Swinging friends. We can get through this Pinktober, and we will live to tell the tale.