Frickin’ Pink Ribbons…

July 23rd, 2008 at at 12:03 pm by Brian

Okay, before I start ranting, there are a few things to state up front.

  1. I love and support all of our cancer family. While I have a special fondness for Hodgers, I love all the rest equally and want to see all forms of cancer get wiped off the face of the earth.
  2. I know breast cancer affects tons of women and that it has touched just about everyone in some way, directly or indirectly.
  3. I have nothing against women (and men) with breast cancer. I love you folks just as much as the rest of my cancer family and hope we get a cure for you soon.
  4. If you have breast cancer, had breast cancer, or love someone who has/had it, you might want to stop reading right now.


Okay, now the ranting.

Today, I received one of my daily email newsletters. This one is from a magazine called CIO, which deals with managing technology in companies. The title of this email was “CIO Insider: Fighting Breast Cancer with SaaS.”

I snapped.

Everywhere you look, you see pink. When you don’t have breast cancer, you start to notice just how much attention is paid to it and not to your cancer.

It’s not fun being the wallflower at the dance. You just sit there with the other wallflowers (colon cancer, lung cancer, girl-part cancer) while all the guys fight over who gets to dance with Ms. Breast Cancer. That little hussy.

I know at least some people out there with the unpopular cancers feel the same way. I had a long talk with my Mother-in-Law’s best friend who had girl-part cancer (I don’t remember the specfics, but I remember it was “down there”). She HATES all of the pink stuff. With a passion.

It just seems like sometimes I can’t escape the bombardment. Commercials, TV shows, appliances, gum, cars, candy, clothes. You name it, and there’s more than likely a pink “Fight Breast Cancer” version. It drives me crazy. I mean, come on – a Garth Brooks CD?

Look, I’m happy that money is getting raised to fight any kind of cancer. I’m frankly amazed at what the Susan G. Komen Foundation has done. You almost can’t see the color pink without thinking “fight breast cancer.” Lance Armstrong has done amazing things with LiveStrong, but how many random people on the street do you think know what kind of cancer he had? It’s awesome and remarkable that the Komen Foundation has been able to brand a color, and I’ll be one of the first in line to pat them on the back and express my admiration.

However.

I still get driven crazy by it all. Even if I calm myself down after I see that the sofa I was about to buy has a big pink ribbon on the back, there’s still one lingering thought that gets me.

Everywhere you look, you see pink fundraising. You can figure that millions upon millions of dollars are probably being raised to fight this disease and find a cure. But breast cancer still exists.

I see pink everywhere, yet we still have breast cancer. Makes me wonder what chance all of the rest of us have.

13 Responses to “Frickin’ Pink Ribbons…”

  1. Wendy Says:

    I am with you on that on Brian. I thought maybe I was they only one.

    The other day I was grocery shopping and it pissed me off that the only way I was going to get my soup is if I bought the one in the PINK CAN. When I made a comment obout it (alright a loud comment), the dirty looks I got amazed me. Until the people looking at me with their opend mouths saw my wonderful black CimB t-shirt. They then saw my oxygen and looked away mumbling, …oh must be a smoker with lung cancer. I Proudly yelled down the isle. No I have hodgkins. and its not the ‘Good Cancer’.

    Needles to say it felt great to remind people there are other cancers out there. Cancer that need attention, fundraising, and cures.

  2. Brian Says:

    That’s my girl – give ’em hell, Wendy! We need to get you exercising so you can start swinging that 02 canister above your head. Since that’s the way I picture you, it’ll make me feel less crazy if you can actually do it :)

    Sometimes I feel like dragging those people down the aisle and pointing out all the pink.

    Oy.

  3. John Says:

    Love your attitude, Wendy.
    I have Hodgkin’s myself, just about to start salvage ICE… I just wanted to say.. I remember seeing a movie, I forget what it was, but the protagonist basically said: “Lung cancer… the disease doesn’t kill them, the guilt does.” How unfair is that? I thought to myself: “I don’t recall any ribbon for lung cancer.”
    There’s no ribbon for Hodgkin’s. I’m not saying there should be one. I’m just saying, how about a ribbon for cancer in general?

  4. Brian Says:

    John,

    Thanks for stopping by!

    There’s actually a bit of debate when it comes to colors for the Hodge ribbon. The two camps are lime green and purple (you can guess which one I hope wins). For the most part, the two camps don’t seem to really know the other exists, but whenever the topic comes up on the Hodge forum, a debate ensues.

    Oh, I forgot the third one – red, for all blood cancers, from the LLS. Great idea, since everyone who looks at a red ribbon automatically thinks “blood cancer!” Ahem.

    They also were trying to push a tri-colored one for a little while as well. I just searched on their site to see what they had changed to now, but they don’t seem to have anything about ribbons.

    The sad thing is, most of the places I’ve looked, the color for colon cancer is brown. I mean, it makes sense, but eeeew.

  5. mel (beaniern) Says:

    John, I have to admit that I feel this way too. People at work wear “Fight Like a Girl” t-shirts with the pink ribbon on them. Not one of my fellow nurses have had breast cancer. Yet not one person wears anything hodge related, yet one of their co-workers and friend HAS had this. Its like a slap in the face. I will wear this t-shirt cause its trendy and hip to wear the pink ribbon, but your cancer my dear, I don’t give a shit about. Well, that may not be truly what they are thinking, but that is how it feels.

    Not onl has breast cancer stolen the color pink, but it seems to have stolen the ribbon icon too. I have a bracelet with a silver ribbon on it (the rest of the bracelet is green mind you) and someone asked me if I knew someone with breast cancer. I said, “no, why would you think that?”, they said, “oh, because of the ribbon on your bracelet.” Are you freakin kidding me!!!

    Now, all this being said, yes I hate breast cancer. Just like I hate all cancers. Especially mine/ours. But it truly does make me upset that every other cancer has been put on the back burner.

    Soapbox is over. Just wanted to give my two cents. Oh and by the way, yes I do love someone who had breast cancer. I still hate the pink ribbon.

  6. Austin Says:

    I can’t seem to find a way to email ya, but I’d like to be added to the Hodge army :P

    I meet all requirements!

    I’m actually the John above, sorry about that (just now starting to get over my internet paranoia).

  7. Mary C Says:

    Hi Brian,

    I agree with you. A phone solicitor made the mistake of calling the other day soliciting donations for breast cancer. I guess he called at a bad moment, because I screamed into the phone, “I’ve had lymphoma, what about soliciting for that?” and slammed down the phone. I’m sure I did not receive any pink ribbons for that! My sister and some friends have all had breast cancer, and let me tell you, it is night and day difference for them. So much money being pumped into their research.

    Bah hum bug.

    Mary C.
    DX 4/2004
    Hodgkins Stage 4b
    TX 6 ABVD (last 3 with no B due to lung damage)
    No rads!
    11/6/2007 PET CLEAN! CLEAN! CLEAN
    5/7/2008 Still Clean (Age 50)
    Residual Mass 7 cm x 4.5 cm

  8. Kerri Says:

    I know you don’t know me but reading this resonated with me and I’ll apologize for the long comment but I recently had a horrific experience with the “Pink Ribbon Toting” Ladies of breast doom. I’ll cut and paste a recent blog entry of mine which will explain what happened.

    By the by, my long time bf has lung cancer, which is what the blog was about.

    “Yesterday afternoon I was finally able to reach one of The Boy’s nurses and as luck would have it what ensued was about the strangest convergence of events ever. At the exact same time there was a knock at the door and The Boy had just fallen asleep not 4 ft away on the sofa! Damn.

    When I opened the door, there stood two mildly overweight, middle aged women wearing stretchy black 1980’s leggings, long pink T-shirts, and pink baseball caps with some sort of logo on them. They were both holding canvas bags full of glossy brochures and fliers and over-sized button pins.

    They introduced themselves by sticking some brochures in my face and asked if I was familiar with their breast cancer organization. In a whispered voice as quietly as I could I tried to explain that I couldn’t talk right now because I was in the middle of an important phone call and I was about to ask if they could stop back by after a couple of other houses when I had more time to speak with them…..

    …..except in mid-sentence one of them piped up and said loudly..”You should be thankful if no one in your life has breast cancer. My mother died of it!”

    “I’m sorry to hear that,” I said and I handed their brochures back to them and closed the door.

    Fifteen minutes later I woke up the-not-suffering-from-breast-cancer Boy and I drove him to his doctor’s office where they re-inserted the much dreaded NasoGastric tube, gave him a cycle of morphine and we came back home with even more bottles of medication and a bonus pain numbing mouth rinse.

    Last night before bed, I poured a glass of wine and went outside in my flannel pajamas and sat alone on the patio and wholeheartedly thanked the Universe for the slap in the face.,”

    Sorry that made this comment so long, but I identified with your entry TO-THE-TEE!

    ~kerri

  9. Lauren Says:

    YES! I can’t remember how I found your site (chemo brain, must be. haha)
    but I am so glad someone finally put into words what I’ve been trying not to say. My aunts own a hair salon, and did a fundraiser for some team doing Race for the Cure this past Spring. I was like hello, your niece has Hodgkin’s. WTF.
    But, I calmed myself down by reassuring myself that it was a good cause, because they have cancer too, just like me, and at least it’s going somewhere.

    I feel like half the people who wear all this pink junk don’t even realize or fully comprehend what it entails. Marketing/Advertising companies just go “hey, chicks like pink, let’s plaster our products with little ribbons and these women will think they deserve some sort of humanitarian award for buying it.” Works for them. But I doubt that they really buy it to “support” research. They think the little symbol looks cute as a charm hanging off their cell phones, or that their friends will be sympathetic and they’ll fit in better if they wear a funny shirt saying “save the ta-ta’s”

    Me, when I was dx’d, my grandparents ordered custom-made little wristbands. They are purple, and in lime green writing they say “BRING IT ON” with a heart, and a smiley face. I wear them for me. I wear them because I wake up each day and every decision I make is made after considering how it will affect my body/chemo.
    Not for a fashion statement.

    Ultimately, though, my point was to thank you for speaking up. I thought I was being selfish in harboring this mutual feeling, so I was afraid to. But now that I know I’m not alone, …I might be a little more open. Plus it felt good to rant ^^^ a little. haha.

  10. Loretta Says:

    Your post has been the most refreshing thing I’ve read in months… I love rants! I think I’m especially frustrated because Breast Cancer October is now (finally!!!) finished.

    I was just as glad to see the end of all that as I was to see the end of Presidential campaging in the US on Nov 4th!!

    I’m entirely glad that I’m not the only one that has that funky feeling inside as I walk past the shelves and shelves of endless pink everywhere.

    I try to be normal, I try to be polite (sometimes) but it’s f’ing tough. I’m coming up on treament #6 of 12 and already have been back to work for over a month.

    A great example of both these happened about 3’ish weeks ago:

    I know I don’t feel good, but I’m tired sitting at home, but I’ve got the grumpy-chemo-face (at least inside) and can smell it everywhere. Then I ran into a group of Boobifiles who were actively recruiting donations and that was the ‘straw’.

    It might have been different if I didn’t encounter the only militant group of BC supporters (and if it wasn’t the Sat after my Wed chemo) but I simply explained to them that that I already committed $120,000 of my health insurance companies money to the cause as a whole.

    Thanks for listening.

    Loretta

  11. Divine Says:

    hi …I have breast cancer. Well, its Inflamatory Breast Cancer…which is not the typical breastcancer…I never heard about it untill I got it. No one really talks about it much. I randomly came across your rant blog. I would like to say I completley agree. The over used pink and all the awareness for bc and ignoring the others is ANNOYING, I completley agree. I agree with all the points you made. I am sorry that this is the reality. CANCAER SUCKS ALL TOGETHER FOAR EVERYONE, havong breast cancer I can say I am not affened and I appreciate your comments. Best of Luck to you………….

  12. Nicole Says:

    I just came across your post while doing some research tonight. I have breast cancer. Stage 3a. I have had chemotherapy, a radical mastectomy and will be finishing my radiation treatment next week.

    All that to say… I feel you. I do.

    Before I was diagnosed with cancer last summer… I thought all of the pink ribbons was pure overkill and a bad example of how something good can quickly be distorted. And then last October, I had to go through chemotherapy while looking at pink ribbons every where I turned. It angered me deeply and made me cry almost every moment of every day. Its hard enough to have a devastating illness but to be consistently and constantly reminded that its there and there’s no cure and you’re just going to have to suffer — assuming you don’t die of it — can be too much.

    I read your post thinking it would anger me, but it didn’t. I can understand why you feel the way you do. But I wonder if any one can understand why I feel the way I do. How do I say this? Every where I turn, there is a pink ribbon. On a car. On a bracelet. On a t-shirt. On a cup… at a bakery. Just everywhere. There is NO ESCAPE.

    Right now, I’m transitioning back to “normal” life — whatever that is. My treatments are almost done so its time to return to work. The pink ribbon movement has sort of imprisoned me in a particular place. I can either embrace it, or spend extraordinary energy trying to ignore it. I’m actually choosing the former. But honestly… it feels like a burden. I am now the poster child for breast cancer for everyone who knows me. I represent what they fear most for themselves or their loved ones. The pink ribbons don’t give me strength or even hope right now — just another label I get to wear for someone else’s benefit.

    So… while you may feel like the wallflower at the dance. I feel like the girl forced to be in the spotlight. Neither seems like a really comfortable place to be.

  13. Helen B Says:

    So agree with Hodgkins getting no publicity. I went to a workshop in Melbourne (Australia) with other women about how to apply make up, tie scarves etc and was told of a holiday house that cancer patients could go to free of charge – only catch was that you had to have had breast cancer!! In hospital the patients with breast cancer got given books and embroidered hand towels etc etc but I have cancer and didn’t get the same attention. Not that I particulary wanted attention but I definately agree that there should be more done about other cancers and not so much focus on one or two types.

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