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October- don’t paint it so pink

Updated: Feb 2, 2023


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Somer excerptsWhen Kim Zielinski was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 at the age of 33, well-meaning friends inundated her with products bearing a little pink ribbon. Each product’s maker promised a cut of the sales price to a breast cancer charity, and these friends felt they were supporting the cause and, by association, Zielinski. A petite brunette who’s now 35, she was enormously grateful for the millions of dollars that these pink-ribbon products direct each year to charities that fund breast cancer research and education.

But it wasn’t long before she got a little sick of the pink. “I felt kind of hateful,” says the insurance company sales manager who lives in Charlestown. “I was like, ‘What makes you think I like pink now?’

“I think that the pink ribbon, as a symbol, tends to pretty up what is a pretty crappy disease. But a pink ribbon is easier to look at than the disease itself.”

Since she was diagnosed 2½ years ago, Anna Schleelein, a 26-year-old attorney in Newton, spends Octobers in a self-imposed pop-culture blackout. She tries to avoid TV, magazines, and, especially, shopping, to steer clear of all those pink-ribbon products. “October is just a reminder of my cancer,” Schleelein says. She is screened for recurrences with MRIs and mammograms every six months, and October is particularly difficult if she is awaiting the results of a test. “I want to buy my English muffins and not be reminded of it while I’m waiting for results to come in.”The profit power of cause marketing is why, come October, everything turns pink. The pink ribbon’s use is unregulated, and it has no consistent meaning. Some companies simply attach a ribbon and say they’re “raising awareness.” Many pink-ribbon campaigns require the purchaser to register the sale online or through the mail.

Such misuse and hoop-jumping infuriates Jeanne Sather, a Seattle woman battling metastatic breast cancer and known throughout the cancer community for her fight against the pink ribbon and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She will send a “Boycott October” button to anyone who asks.

As Jeanne Sather at Assertive Patient says in her blog about the usual statistics given about breast cancer as One in Eight , Well, the one in eight figure came from earlier stats from the National Cancer Institute that said if a woman lived to be in her 80s and didn’t die of something else first–say heart disease, stroke, or lung cancer–then she had a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer–NOT of dying of it.

Now, data from the NCI says that, if you are 25, your chances of developing breast cancer in your lifetime are one in 19,608.

If you are 35, your chances are one in 622.

If you are 45, one in 93.

And so on, until you reach the age of 85, when your chances of getting breast cancer are one in nine!


So, please just by Shopping , you are not curing the disease, you are just adding millions to the profit of all the companies trying to sell pink. And talking about survivors in blogs or talking about breast cancer awareness is not going to help either. It will be just that, some talk.

If you want to support a survivor or the cause, volunteer for helping cancer patients or donate the money directly to the Non-Profit Organization…Shopping Pink never saved anyone other than the companies selling them.

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