Written by Marianne Mansfield
It’s time to rethink the pink. That is, the pink that represents October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
I’m not suggesting that breast cancer awareness is unimportant. Quite the contrary. As a means of reminding women to get their annual mammograms, I think centering activity in one month is greatly effective. I know it helps me to remember that it is time to take the ta-tas to get imaged.
The proliferation of pink, however, verges on undermining its power. In fact, it is in danger of trivializing a disease that killed 40,931 women and 443 men in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
You see pink around every corner. Pink ribbons on lapels, skyscrapers bathing themselves in glowing pink at night, pink wrappers on everything from candy bars to toilet paper.
Google “breast cancer merchandise.” You can buy hoodies, jewelry, socks, and running shoes.
There is no shortage of businesses claiming the banner of pink in their advertising campaigns for the month of October. This question remains, however, what percentage of their profits for the month is channeled into breast cancer research? It is a question worth asking.
Then, think about the NFL players sporting pink arm bands, shoes, and helmet emblems. I find this particularly laughable in light of the domestic violence issues that have plagued some players and have been handled so dismally by the league’s leadership.
The problem with the pink is this: It makes it too easy to dismiss the obligation we have to confront this ugly disease. We are enticed to believe we’ve done our share. If we walk in a 5K, wear a lapel ribbon, or purchase merchandise with a pink ribbon on the wrapper, we are tempted to give ourselves a pat on the back and carry on.
Leah Gabriel Nurik is a wife, mother of two, breast cancer survivor, and the CEO and founder of the Reston, Va.-based Gabriel Marketing Group. She addressed this issue, brilliantly I think, in an editorial published Oct. 10, 2014 in the Washington Post. She said,
“Instead of buying pretty pink things where the majority of the profits do not go to research, donate directly to organizations that help women deal with the devastating diagnosis of cancer. Or, go see your friend and let her talk about what it’s like to lose her breasts and live with the constant fear of it sneaking up and making her endure it again. If you want to reflect on breast cancer and its true toll, visit and give to the SCAR Project (thescarproject.org). That is the real face of breast cancer and survivorship. Just like the confusing and contradictory cacophony of life, survivorship is ugly, hard, beautiful and joyous all at once.”
One only needs to go to the SCAR Project’s website and click through the images of women whose breasts have been removed or disfigured to recognize that the battle against breast cancer cannot, should not, be reduced to an annual campaign bathed in pink.
In addition to the suggestions of breast cancer survivor Nurik, let’s do more. For example, let’s make certain that every woman in our greater St. George community who needs a mammogram has access to one. Here is the contact information and a brief description of services of organizations prepared to help:
Family Health Care (435) 986-2565 Every other Wednesday morning, women may meet with a health care professional from 10 a.m. to noon for a suggested donation of $10. If indicated after that visit, complete cancer screenings are available, which can include pap smears, breast examinations, and pelvic exams. These exams are available at a low cost for women from ages 40-49 ($20), and no cost for women from 50-64. There is an income eligibility standard. Women may also be referred for mammograms at Dixie Regional Medical Center for a cost of $50.
Doctors Volunteer Clinic of St. George (435)-656-0222 This clinic also offers low-cost services, but refers most requests for mammograms to Family Health Care, mentioned above, for screening.
The Mammogram Mobile On a first-come, first-served basis, the Mammogram Mobile will be offering free mammograms at the “What Women Want” event held at the Dixie Center this Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24 and 25. Mammograms are free for women who are residents of Washington or Iron County and are unable to bear the cost of the procedure. The free mammograms are supported by the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Intermountain Foundation.
So, there isn’t really any reason for women not to get their mammograms.
Rethink the pink.
GET YOUR MAMMOGRAM!