Pinkwasher: (pink’-wah-sher) noun. A company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, but at the same time produces, manufactures and/or sells products that are linked to the disease.
From the beginning, way before I knew I had cancer, or knew anything about cancer, I didn't like that ribbon. I didn't understand why, but it just didn't feel right. It wasn't just the ribbon, it was the walks, the pins, the bracelets, and all the breast cancer awareness propaganda.
I didn't get the same negative vibe from the AIDS awareness or the AFSP movement, but that PINK ribbon, well, THAT made my green monkey hairs stand up.
Two months before my bad mammogram, my husband and I were at a New Orleans Saints game on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. We were packed into a stadium that is typically overflowing with a creative expression of colorful costumes. This is a big reason why Saints games are so much fun. But this time, the overflow of PINK was nauseating.
You could argue that, on some level, I knew breast cancer was around the corner. Or that, by nature, I don't like to be told what to do, wear, or promote. I think that (being a highly intuitive monkey) I knew that something about the PINK was not in sync.
Foremost in my mind is why. Why is being a women the main risk for developing breast cancer? And why, after all these pink ribbon efforts, is breast cancer on the rise?
What we do know is that the cancer industry consists of agencies, organizations and corporations that fail to protect our health, promote corporate agendas, and divert attention away from finding a cure.
Currently most clinical trials are funded by grants from pharmaceutical companies which, at the very least, poses a conflict of interest or a spinning of science.
Companies that have sold pink ribbon products have also been linked to increased risk of breast cancer. In 2011, Komen commissioned a perfume called "Promise Me" that contained chemicals that are regulated as toxic and have demonstrated negative health effects.
PINK RIBBON INC is a documentary that explores corporate involvement in breast cancer activism and questions the Komen organization, among others, for placing a higher priority on politics and marketing than on medicine. It is currently in a limited release and will be available on Netflix.
I am one of the women who, as the documentary states, is appalled by the effort to make breast cancer pretty.
Mastectomy's are not pretty. Reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiation is not pretty. Side effects of drug therapy is not pretty.
As all of you know, I LIVE OUT LOUD. I am not ashamed to share my flaws, my strengths, my joys or my sorrows. If I let it out it doesn't stick inside me. If I express it, it doesn't torment me. If I give it light, it doesn't overshadow me.
And sometimes, it helps someone. Sometimes, someone connects with it. And when someone connects with it, they feel less alone. For all of you that are living with breast cancer, YOU are not alone. I am here with you. I am struggling with you.
I recently took part in a survey where I was asked about my cancer. I was questioned about the care I received from my doctors, hospital and staff, and I was also asked about the emotional scars of my cancer.
Does having cancer restrict you from living an active, normal life?
Do you worry about dying?
Do you feel embarrassed by the loss of your breasts?
Do you feel less of a women?
Do you feel less attractive, less sexual, less desirable?
Do you deliberately coverup, conceal, or hide your chest?
No, No, No, No, No, NO!
Because I write about it. Because I talk about it. Because I blog and Facebook about it. Because I post pictures of my progress - from the eve of my mastectomy to my latest fill. And I will continue to post pictures and stories until I feel that I am healed.
(that bottom, red area means I'm in pain)
After a recent saline fill of 120cc's my right mound is currently at "more than a handful." Because of my tissue expander debacle, left breast has some catching up to do. If you see me, you'll notice I'm rockin' the right mound so please try not to focus on my left.
I recently told a neighbor that they'll know when I'm done with my surgeries because I'll walk topless to the mailbox.
And I assure you that I will.
Bottom line is, I along with many women, feel proud of what we've done to treat our cancer. Our scars are a reflection of our courage.
Before you buy PINK ask...
1. How much money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs and is there a cap?
2. What organization will get the money? What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?
3. Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer?
4. What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?