Strangled with Her Own Pink Ribbons

October is on us. The Month of Pink Ribbons Everywhere. Heaven help us, every one. I’ve never been that fond of pink, and by now I’ve developed an absolute allergy to it.

There’s a lot I could say about the marketing – anything from ‘Promise’ perfume by Komen* to the ‘Save Second Base’ type campaigns – and a lot I could say about the positive bits that have come out of some of this stuff I despise. Luckily, I don’t have to – because it’s all been said before, and better,  by others.

So here’s some of what this blog,, has to say about it:

“Do you feel yourself getting caught in October’s pink undertow? Now it’s easier than ever to share your sentiments. Just review these MBC bits and pieces and copy and paste to your favorite social media vehicle, email signature block or newspaper opinion page.

Got a note or quote to add? Please share in the comments!

Breast Cancer in General:

“Having breast cancer is massive amounts of no fun. First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you. I have been on blind dates better than that.”
–Molly Ivins 1944 – 2007, columnist, political commentator and humorist

“Cancer is not a ribbon, a screening test, or a leisure activity. It is not a sassy t-shirt, a proclamation of survivorship, or a gift worth giving. It is a disease.

When we ignore reality in exchange for feel-good fund-raising activities, we alienate and forsake those for whom cancer is a major cause of suffering.”

–Gayle Sulik, author, “Pink Ribbon Blues”

Iowan Sally Drees is determined to raise $41,000 before October ends (“41k in 31 Days”). $20,500 will go to The Pink Daisy Project, a nonprofit that provides support to breast cancer patients under age 45. The remaining $20,500 will go to METAvivor, a nonprofit, volunteer-run group that funds metastatic breast cancer research.

Why $41,000? “Each dollar represents one person in the U.S. who will die of breast cancer this year,” Drees explains. “I believe less pink and more green will make a world of difference this October.”

Metastatic Breast Cancer Related:

“All too often, when people think about breast cancer, they think about it as a problem, it’s solved, and you lead a long and normal life; it’s a blip on the curve. While that’s true for many people, each year approximately 40,000 people die of breast cancer — and they all die of metastatic disease. You can see why patients with metastatic disease may feel invisible within the advocacy community.”

–Dr. Eric P. Winer, director of the breast oncology center at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

Danny Welch, an expert on metastasis, says only a few hundred scientists in the world are trying to understand the process: “It’s responsible for 90 percent of the morbidity and mortality, but gets less than 5 percent of the budget.”

The late Jane Soyer and Nina Schulman founded the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) in 2004. MBCN is a national, independent, patient-led, nonprofit advocacy group that provides education and information on treatments and coping with the disease.

“The breast cancer community had become a place for ‘survivors’, not for people living with breast cancer every day of their lives. We were not being seen or heard. No one was trying to meet our needs. No one was listening.”

–Nina Shulman, co-founder of MBCN

“We don’t fit in with all the cheering about ‘beating the disease’. We have to learn how to live with the ever-present anxiety of knowing it is a matter of time till the present treatment stops working. We are left trying to explain to friends and family why we are still on chemo. The world likes closure and we have no closure.”

–Ellen Moskowitz, past president of MBCN”

Now, I’m really fortunate – I don’t have metastatic breast cancer. Yet. With any luck, I won’t ever have it, and after I finish up radiation, that will be my closure (aside from the aggressive screening and always wondering if this time will be the time they find something *nasty*).

And I do appreciate the thought behind much of this pink ribboned feeling – as ChemoBabe says on her blog: (

“I know women who have felt transformed by the Three Day Walks, Komen’s signature event. I cannot overstate their symbolic power. They provide community. They make a natural place for a comeback from treatment or even grief. They are a way of giving cancer the middle finger. The feeling of unity and purpose at these events humbles me.

How can you criticize an organization that makes these experiences possible?


While the unity may be 100% real, the purpose has become distorted. I feel that these women and the people who donate to them are being misled. I do not like to see people’s good intentions exploited.”

I may dislike the color pink, but I really hate pinkwashing. Breast cancer awareness is good; early detection is good; funding research and care is excellent – and I do encourage you to give, if you feel the urge.

Just do so responsibly. Do your research. Give directly to organizations that fund research, or screening, or care – don’t buy some piece of crap just because it has a pink ribbon on it.


*”This “floriental” scented perfume costs $59.00. Of that, how much do you think goes to research? If you said $1.51, you are correct! (Thanks for the math, Uneasy Pink!)Since Komen spends a minuscule fraction of that on researching metastatic disease, very little of your fifty-nine bucks is going toward a cure.” – from


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One Response to Strangled with Her Own Pink Ribbons

  1. The pink Wheat Thins boxes in the grocery store look like tampon boxes in the wrong aisle. I feel assaulted by pinkness everywhere I go. It is quite simply too much.

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