I’ve never been comfortable with all the Pinkwashing that goes on, especially as we approach October and Breast Cancer Awareness month. I have been invited to participate in a couple of different events so far this October, and while I’m so excited for the opportunities, something has really been bothering me. Will I be expected to wear pink?
I’m all for branding an event (I may have gone overboard on a kid’s birthday a time or two), so I understand the power of recognition that comes from the color pink, and especially the little pink ribbon. From a marketing standpoint, it’s a very powerful symbol, and it’s a shame not to take advantage of it.
Still, I feel like so much of the “pink” awareness lacks action. Unlike the days of Betty Ford, women aren’t afraid to talk about breast cancer now, it’s not something discussed only in whispers. I’m not sure we really need to be more aware that it exists. My friend, Karen, is a Nurse Educator at the Pentagon, and I am working with her and the clinic there on a few talks and events. Knowing my reticence for all things pink, she suggested an acrostic– a way to use all of that pink to engage women to actually take some action. Thanks, Karen, for getting me started on the idea– genius. I quickly set to producing a pretty, pink infographic that could harness a little of the pink-hued enthusiasm to deliver a worthwhile message. And so I present to you “Giving Purpose to the Pink:”
I prepared this infographic to use in a talk that I’ll be giving to a mixed audience, and it’s definitely better with a little explanation. Being overweight, drinking alcohol (as little as three drinks a week), and smoking all raise a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Still, there are no guarantees, so identifying any lumps or thickening in your own breast, as well as keeping up with your mammograms, are the best ways to find a tumor early, while it is still treatable. And it’s important to know the facts about breast cancer– don’t let yourself be scared by every news story– underwire bras and deodorant do not cause breast cancer. But also don’t let survivors like me give you a false sense of security. Nearly 40,000 women will die of metastatic breast cancer this year. Breast cancer is not to be taken lightly.
I very well may end up with a pink dress yet this year. (I even bought a pink running shirt with a little ribbon on it. I swear it’s tiny.) But as you see all the pink in the coming weeks, as you perhaps even buy some Pinktober wear yourself, I would encourage you to remember that breast cancer is deadly and all that pink gear should be about more than feeling like you’ve done a good deed. Make smart decisions about your own health. Take action. Give purpose to the pink.