It’s early October and unless you are living under a rock you know that this kicks off a month-long awareness campaign for breast cancer.

PINK, PINK EVERYWHERE!

What was once a singular month of pink ribbons, walks, and fundraisers has turned into a full on media frenzy…and an ideal opportunity for anyone wanting to make a dollar off of pink awareness items.

Pink is the new green!

There is some serious money being made in breast cancer awareness, but sadly very little of that money is going to directly help breast cancer patients, their families, or research. And no longer is pink confined to the month of October. It has become a year-round awareness campaign.

I’m here to boldly announce – THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN A SUCCESS!

People are acutely aware of breast cancer. Women are more diligent about having mammograms and doing self exams and as a result people are catching the disease at earlier stages. But here’s the sad statistic: THE SAME NUMBER OF WOMEN ARE DYING OF BREAST CANCER EACH YEAR. According to some research done by Ann Silberman, author of the blog Breast cancer? But Doctor, I Hate Pink!, the overall number of deaths attributed to breast cancer each year since the ’80s has remained fairly steady at around 40,000. I dare to say that this number is actually higher because it is only based on those whose deaths are documented as being caused by breast cancer. Many die of complications from this disease.

The same number of women are dying even after millions billions of dollars are raised annually in the name of breast cancer awareness.

Awareness has been achieved. Even my 5-year-old knows that pink = breast cancer awareness! And the overwhelming display of pink each fall is a jarring reminder for those faced with the disease. It is time to shift the conversation away from awareness and boldly strive for stronger research. 

I may sound a bit preachy on this. Maybe even a bit angry. Truth be told, I am angry about this issue because for me (like many of you), breast cancer has affected people who I love. It’s intensely personal.

Here are just a few of my reasons:

Twenty-five years ago my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy to try to avoid further spread of the disease in her body.

Two years ago, my childhood best friend was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and a host of other surgeries and chemotherapy to battle the disease.

Three of my college friends have battled the disease. My friend Laura even posted a guest blog right here and shared her own experiences with the disease.

Since last October, I have lost two friends to metastatic breast cancer.

A dear friend and neighbor lost his sweet mother over the summer and his daughters lost their grandmother.

One of my aunts was diagnosed with breast cancer and has since had a lumpectomy and undergone radiation and other treatments.

And just last month we learned that my grandmother, the one mentioned above who had been a breast cancer survivor for 25 years, now has metastatic breast cancer. Her disease is back with a vengeance – invading her bones, wrapping around her spine in the form of a nasty tumor, and robbing her of her strength and zeal for life.  Sadly, there is no cure for her. Nothing to slow this disease down. In a matter of months, she has been deprived  of her very active life and my mom and her sisters are surrounding her with their love, unwavering devotion, energy, and faith – each hoping to give her a sense of peace and love and grace in the months to come. 

We’re not ready to let her go. 

Right now, the reality of breast cancer for our family is all too raw. Too real.

And October is just too pink.

What I’d love to see is a shift from the awareness dialogue that we are all overly accustomed to, to a push for research funding. Yes, companies will still figure out how to profit from all things pink, but if we tried hard enough, maybe the nonprofit organizations that say that they are all about breast cancer awareness can be held accountable. Maybe they’ll push a higher percentage of the funds raised in their name towards actual research. Instead of giving 3-10% of money raised from their awareness walks and 5Ks, maybe they’ll start giving a majority of those funds to actually help find a cure, rather than just putting that phrase on a t-shirt or water bottle.

So my focus this October is on my grandmother. On research. On a cure. If not for her, for my daughter’s generation. For hope. Because it’s the right thing to do. 

Will you join me?

 

Breast cancer RESEARCH. Not AWARENESSj.

 

 

 

 

 

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