October Is a Comin’ (Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

Every October, the world turns pink in support of women with breast cancer. I can’t even begin to articulate how much this annoys me. Like-minded women dread the 31 days we must endure watching people run, walk, raise money, and tout the good works being done by high-profile breast cancer charities in the name of research and education.

In reality, many of these charities are in gluttonous relationships with corporations that market countless pink ribbon products for us to purchase, claiming that portions of the proceeds go to fund breast  cancer education and research. The truth is, a minute fraction of the money spent on pink ribbon products goes to education and research. The lion’s share goes into the pockets of the corporate bigwigs and those running the charities. Don’t believe me? Stop reading. If you do, read this. Click the links. And come back here.

I don’t agree with everything Peggy Orenstein writes, but I do agree that the manufactured breast cancer culture has done little to help women, other than to form a sisterhood of pinkness that hides how ugly breast cancer actually is. You have to delve deep into the recesses of the Internet to find intelligent discourse about what really happens when you receive a breast cancer diagnosis. All the pink ribbon culture focuses on is the aftermath – the cheerleading and the false hope that if you “check your boobies” you’ll be alright. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

In the two years since Ms. Orenstein’s article was published, we’ve been bombarded with contradictory information about when, and how often we should be screened for breast cancer. We’ve been told that there is an epidemic of double mastectomies being performed in the name of prevention, when the procedure has not been proven to positively impact survival rates. We are perceived as staging a rebellion by defying our doctors and mutilating our bodies. As recently as yesterday, we were told that, as women, we view cancer differently, and make emotional decisions about treatment rather than considering the science.

Do women ever catch a break? We can’t swing a stretched out brassiere or a pair of granny panties without getting criticized for what happens to us. The more I look, the more women I find who are seriously pissed off about all this pink ribbon bullshit. We don’t want to be celebrated for our “survival” – we want facts about what happens when the disease strikes. And strike it does: one out of every 8 women is at risk, and the number of young women getting diagnosed is fucking scary. Why is it happening, and what can we do to slam the brakes on it? Walking/running/buying dozens of cups of yogurt isn’t going to help; information will. The big charities want you to think progress is being made, but the truth is, this is a self-perpetuating scam that will continue for decades to come if people continue to buy into it.

Consider this a warning shot. I’m not done pissing on pink ribbons. It’s the only way I will be able to get through the month of October with my sanity intact.

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