Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why PINK isn't Pretty

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? 

My answer...

 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. 

XO, MonKEYme

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?


  1. Aloha Monkey do 'cos Monkey can:)

    Been awhile... wanted to check in... great to hear the positive in your "voice"... hope that red area clears up.... this may sound weird, but is it a rash? IF so, try a product called "Butt Paste" ... it's real... my three sons have sworn by it :)

    Anyway... take care you lovely lady, and I can't *wait* to read about the walk to the mailbox :)

    1. Aloha Mark! I thought you were going to suggest "Monkey Butt".... no, its not a rash, it's my sensitive monkey skin reacting to the stretching. The redness is a sign of the internal and external inflammation and irritation.

      And Mark, since you're wayyyyyy over there, I'll make certain someone videotapes it :) and lets hope I'm finished before the weather turns cold.

  2. Weird about that pink ribbon. It's not the only flaky charity. I've read of some that spend 20% on research and 80% on administration. It takes more than awareness to cure cancer.

    I see some of these cars with enough magnetic ribbons to lower their mileage by about four MPG. Whose idea was this? I'm sure they will start having cancers caused by magnetic ribbons soon.

    I'm sure you'll be twirling at burning man in no time.

    1. my goal is to spin fire topless at the man on Burn night. and you're right about how little goes to actual research.

  3. I've often thought it strange that so little attention is focused on figuring out the chemical and environmental causes of breast cancer. Corporate pink ribbon campaigns have always given me the willies too.

  4. Excellent blog, Shannon!

  5. Thoughtful and thought provoking.



  6. What Monkey Gurl said. Great post--I agree, all the pink everywhere seemed very...not genuine, sometimes.

    You *walk* to that mailbox topless, girl, when the time comes!

    1. Thanks for reading :) maybe I should make it more of a strut....

  7. I love you, Shannon. I really do. When I see all the PINK propaganda, I think, "just another marketing ploy..." As the daughter of a breast cancer survivor, I don't buy anything PINK (neither does my mother). But I do spread awareness about truly healthy living, herbal medicine, and holistic healing. We don't need money to prevent breast cancer, we need wisdom.

    1. healthy living, herbs, holistic approaches are also very empowering. LOVE back at you Lucy!

  8. Thanks for the info Shannon. I'll be more alert now. I admire your openness. I'm sure it helps you and others a lot more than a walkathon.

    1. Hi Myrna! There is so much more but I didn't want to preach (not my style). and thanks for being open to my openness.

  9. You know... if you lived here, the guys in my office would be lining up to be the mail man on that day. :)


  10. Thank u for your blobs Shannon. I can't agree more on all the pink ribbon stuff. Guess I never thought too much about it until I got breast cancer. I can't wait to retarded the blog if your visit to the mailbox! U go girl!

    1. Thanks Cin! I might have to do a pre tatt trip, and a post tatt trip. By the way... did you know, they make temporary, rib on areola tattoo's!

  11. I had never looked close enough to see those signals, until the Komen-Planned Parenthood fiasco. You have shared some important information; thanks.

    1. thanks for caring! I had a weird nightmare last night - two women, both topless (and with exquisite breasts) we're chasing me with pink ribbons!

  12. I am joyful that you "LIVE OUT LOUD". I believe that too. This is in reference to your last blog too. Beautiful pics!!! I love ur flowers. Definitely, get a puppy. I would encourage it. Pups bring so much to ur life. And u never feel alone. I feel sorry for those whom don't know the love of a pup. Definitely will research the pink ribbon information. I, unfortunately, work where a lot of decisions are made based on politics. It can be very discouraging and disheartening at times. I love that voodoo doll. I would love to make one and one as big as yours is that u took to Burning Man. Very creative. Take care. Stormy Dawn

  13. Don't know if any one will answer this but I would like to know if this ribbion has a copy right or is open to use? If anyone knows please message me. Thank you


Thank you for encouraging my JOY of writing. By reading and commenting you are feeding my soul, stroking my heart, and in the end...making me a better writer.

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Thank You For Encouraging My Joy of Writing

Shannon E. Kennedy


Photo by Joan Harrison