Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Includes Expert Content
Has Pink Lost Its Punch?
avatar
Andie_WebMD_Staff posted:
Hi Everyone,


With Breast Cancer Awareness Month now in full swing, I'm always delighted to see a flood of pink ribbons as people from all walks of life pull together to raise awareness. From Internet and TV to local grocery stores and gas stations, one thing is for sure,?there is no end to the many uses of the color pink. Or is there?

This recent NBC article on Pink Ribbon Fatigue revisits several criticisms of the think pink strategy. Some of those include the concern that pharmaceutical companies are taking advantage of the campaign to profit from publicity yet continue to produce cancer-causing toxic waste. Or, the fear that the color pink reinforces the stereotyping of women.

Has the publicity and mad dash to create the next pink "something" over saturated our public perception and turned, instead, into the blind eye?

A friend of mine that has lost three close relatives to cancer — two of those to breast cancer — said to me, "Every October I dread this sea of pink even though I know how important it is to raise money and awareness. I always think -- how much more aware do I need to be?"

Your feelings are important. What is your opinion of the think pink strategy to raise awareness? Is the campaign doing a spectacular job, or is it giving the public the wrong impression that the fight on breast cancer is quickly progressing? Do you feel using the color pink stereotypes women at all?

Please share your thoughts below.
Reply
FirstPrevious12NextLast
 
avatar
judyfams responded:
I do not think that pink has lost its punch as much as I think it has become too "cutsey".

We do not need breast awareness month - we need breast education month. The literature out there represents a scanty overview of the need for mammograms, the difference between lumpectomy and mastectomy with a scant mention of breast reconstruction, than a scant mention of the possibility of chemotherapy, followed by the scant mention of radiation.

Unless you actually know someone who has been through the breast cancer journey, the "cutsey" pamphlets put out by the ACS do not educate you (the newly diagnosed patient) as to what options you might have and what questions to ask your surgeon. These pamphlets are designed not to frighten you - but do a terrible disservice to us and has us making decisions without all the facts. The only way to get all the facts is to actually speak to someone who has been through it or get on the internet and do hours of research.

What we need now in 2010 are new pamphlets that completely educate us so we can make the best decisions for ourselves. After reading many entries on this website it had become obvious that education about how to treat breast cancer is sorely lacking. Many questions being posted here are questions that should have been addressed in a well written educationally precise pamphlet put out by the ACS that every women has acess to in her mammography center.

The pamphlet should discuss the different kinds of breast cancer, the difference between lumpectomy and mastectomy, an explanation of all the different kinds of breast reconstruction ( implants, DIEPP flap, Tram flap, Latimus dorsal flap,etc.) the different types of radiation (brachytherapy, whole breast, partial breast, intensity modulated, and even prone and/or supine position). The reason for chemotherapy before or after surgery, as well as the different kinds of hormone therapy (targeted, AI's, Tamoxifen.etc.)

Wouldn't it be nice to have all the current and available information in one pamphlet that we could take home and read in the privacy of our own homes!

I therefore propose we call October Breast Education Month, and then do the same for other cancers each month of the year. Why only the emphasis on breast cancer??? We are all aware of cancer - but we are basically uneducated about the treatment options for each of these cancers. Lets get away from "cute" and get back to treating people as intelligent people and begin to educate them about cancer.

I hope the emphasis changes from cute to substantive!

Judy
 
avatar
rachael67 responded:
I imagine that anything which gets more individuals to pay attention to their bodies and to check out any big changes is a positive. A reminder that often we can play a big role in our own health is also important. And, maybe, an occasional nudge that we are not immortal is good as well...Tho' I must admit it is something I would much prefer to ignore and be suprised instead as the focus tends to be a mite overwhelming to those who worry as I do! So, judging by those standards, the dedication of a pink October is worthwhile.

However...I have heard others raise great objections to the "Pink Brigade"...It is objectionable to them for several reasons including the fact that other diseases are equally important as well as the fact that it is all but silly sometimes when we see who and what parade Pink with their products.

So, I guess my response if yes and no! Not much help but then I often find sitting on fences pretty comfortable!

Blessings.
Rachael
Just when the caterpillar thought her world was over, she became a butterfly! Don't give up five minutes before the miracle!!
 
avatar
GazelleDZ responded:
It is now thankfully the second week of November and the 'swaths of pink' tied in partial bows are absent, and I for one do not miss them. I loathe the color pink-always have- and wonder who decided to use the incipient color and its little-girl ribbon as a symbol. This year in particular I cringed as the pink began to metastacize everywhere I went, especially with the inevitable accompanying reminder about breast cancer.

(As if I needed reminding....having received the diagnosis around the summer solstice this year. Like the friend of the WebMD poster asked, do I need any more awareness beyond the diagnositics, the ultra sound, the biopsy, the pathology, the MRI, the partial mastectomy with a re-excision 3 weeks after and the begining 'sun' burn from radiation therapy? Which, by the way is....pink!)

I suspect that a color-whether the loathsome pink or not, isn't what causes 'awareness' of breast cancer or other cancers, but rather becoming aware of the disease through encounters with family or friends who either have it or who have family or friends with this disease. Even that 'awareness' isn't necessarily fact-based or educative. Ditto for the pamphlets-many with the ubiquitous pink ribbon on thier covers- one finds around a surgeon's or oncologists waiting room isn't really much help because they are vague and written for a five-year-old.

A woman is fortunate indeed to find the physician-be they radiologist, surgeon or oncologist- who takes the time to listen to her before he/she launches into the speeches about what, where and how of the next few years of her life. It is these physicians who are the vanguards for women being ushered into the sorority none of us volunteered to join. If they cannot help in our aquiring knowledge of what to expect and how to travel the roads ahead, some of us will have a torturous journey-with or without pink ribbons.

'Awareness' needs to be introduced long before adulthood, and education needs to follow close on its heels. Being made 'aware' that something can or did happen is not the same as encountering the something, as Jim McKay used to say, 'Up close and personal'. And education may be as good-or as bad- as those giving the instruction or the opinions.

Preparation is the key to helping any of us adapt and cope with adversity, not pink ribbons. So prepare us for possibilities without scare tactics and without condescension. Remind we who need it that we need to fight the temptation to let this disease-or any other-overwhelm us to the point that it takes over our being.

Don't bombard us with useless statistics, but give us encouragement and support so that we can face an unwelcome diagnosis with the knowledge that it, too, will pass with the appropriate interventions available. Tell us that living a healthy lifestyle will help us fight this or any other disease should it invade our lives. Remind us that a laugh is worth far more than almost anything else, and that even the darkest cloud has a silver lining. Remind us that anything suspicious bears looking into and that pre-screening diagnostic tools are really a girl's/woman's best friends. Remind us that no matter how badly we may believe our present circumstances seem, billions have it far worse than we ever could imagine.

So, you want to give me a pink ribbon and in a few years label me as a 'survivor'? Please don't! Every day I wake up in my familiar surroundings I have 'survived', something which occurred long before June brought its rather unpleasant news. Every sunrise or moonset I've seen is a blessing, along with the birdsong and critter chatter I hear around me. Each time I hear my sister's voice on the phone or have a tete a tete with a long-time friend is a joy. And if now I must have my mornings taken up with radiation therapy, at least I have my afternoons and evenings to myself and my pursuits beyond breast cancer.
 
avatar
Christina Applegate responded:
I don't feel that it stereotypes women, it is a recognition.

When we see the pink ribbon, we know the topic that is at hand. There is an ever increasing amount of organizations and fundraisers which shows this is a disease that hasn't gone away yet.

Christina
 
avatar
Janey108 replied to Christina Applegate's response:
Christina,
I agree with you and go one step further than recognition. When I see the pink ribbon, I am reminded that somewhere, someone is working to prevent breast cancer before it even begins, and if that is an impossible task, then someone is working for a cure so it never comes back. Gloria
 
avatar
lindwood77019 replied to Janey108's response:
I think back to the 15 years that I was told to take hormones, being that I have no children, had a hysterectomy at 40, and my Mom took DES when pregnant with me. I kept asking my doctor, "are you SURE I should still be taking these???" Oh, yes, he replied. It will help your heart, your bones, and your skin. Where was HIS breast cancer awareness? I had all the risk factors and then we piled on hormones on top of it. Well, heck. Now I have arimidex to rob me of all my estrogen, I have lymphedema to make me use moisturizers religiously on the left arm and breast, wrapping, elastic sleeves, heat strokes in summer in Texas due to the Elastic sleeve, never sleeping in my favorite fetal position again (how can you with a wrapped arm??), no hot baths in winter time to warm myself up, and God forbid, on top of all of that, I am an art teacher for children who needs to teach them clay and is at risk of cutting myself on a daily basis in one way or another in order to make their program fun with all of the media we use in art. My house is surrounded by 40 rose bushes...try cutting those back without pricking yourself. And all of this for one "microscopic" node involvement. 27 nodes later...lymphedema. Mine has flared up again recently, so I am back in physical therapy, using a pump two hours a day, wrapping my arm at night, and wearing a sleeve all day. All because I got a small area of contact dermatitis on my wrist.
I am wondering about my gynocologist's advice to keep taking that estrogen. Hindsight is the best teacher. I should have followed my gut instincts and demanded that I get off of it. Maybe I would not have gotten it. Who can know.

On a brighter note, I am alive, my arm is responding to treatment, and I have a good life. I am just feeling a little too aware, myself.
Linda
 
avatar
PozeePicker responded:
Pink is a Great color. I don't think we really need to raise awareness to the biggest money making scam in America since the Federal Bailout of the Banks. NO One wants to find a cure for breast cancer because too many entities are making money on breast cancer! From the company in China making all the pink ribbon goodies to the pharmaceutical companies, the radiologist, the surgeons, the oncologists, the "researcher", all the way down to the food manufactures that put hormones and steroids and pesticides in your food and lets not forget the CEO's of all the breast cancer societies who are pulling down extremely large salaries themselves. Have you ever asked yourself why there is more breast cancer in America than anywhere else in the world? Please don't fall for the answer that our medicine is so good, we are ranked now 39th in the world.
Pink is a wonderful color and when you see all these women marching and walking and raising money to give to some society under the guise of "finding a cure for breast cancer", sit down and cry for them because they have been suckered into the scam.
What would happen if that much effort were given to coordinating a march on Washington and demanding Nationalized research or Nationalized Medicine so all the information was contained in one source like it is in most European countries.
In America it is all about the money! Color it pink or any other color it really doesn't matter as long as there is money to be made there will be no cure.
I won't wear a pink ribbon. I won't march for a cure. I won't ever get my breast back.
I spend most of October praying and crying for all the women that feel compelled to wear pink ribbons and support the parasites that have and are making money off of their efforts.
Aside from that, pink is a great color.
 
avatar
judyfams replied to PozeePicker's response:
I posted an answer to this earlier. The gist of my answer was that the many and varied cancer societies do not disseminate ALL available information in an easy to read and understandable manner. The confusion comes from the lack of knowledge women have to go on when diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was one of those women. In my opinion, I find the issue of making money from breast cancer patients is most aggregious in the field of radiation oncology.

Think about the amount of money that is made when a women goes for whole breast radiation 5-7 weeks of daily rads. Contrast that with brachytherapy (internal radiation) which is usually done twice a day for 5 days, and you can see the big difference in cost - 30 plus rads vs. 10 rads. Figure out which has the better bottom line for the radiation oncologist! I never heard of brachytherapy until I DID MY OWN RESEARCH - all the pamphlets from the cancer societies made very strong points to say that the 30 plus rad treatments were the gold standard and had a wonderful track record for the past 30 years. I found out that brachytherapy had only been around for about 10 years and didn't have the same track record. At the age of 67 - I really do not need a 30 year track record, a 10 year track record that would have allowed me to finish in 5 days would have been fine for me - but I did not find out about it until it was too far post lumpectomy surgery, My surgeon and medical oncologist NEVER mentioned the possibility of brachytherapy even though I think I may have been an excellent candidate - early stage breast cancer (stage 1 IDC) found during a routine mammo and no node involvement.

So the only option I had was the standard whole breast radiation which I just finished. There were bad radiation burns (no broken skin) and they had to stop for a few days in after about 25 treatments. I also ran into trouble when I insisted that the radiation be done in the prone (on your stomach) position rather than the more common supine (on your back) position. One center insisted that the supine position was the one used and said there was no difference to me to have it done that way. I did not use that facility and found a facility that did my radiation in the prone position. I then understood the "money issue" again. If every patient has radiation done in the supine position then the facility can process them very quickly, same set up just change the angle of the beams. If you throw in a few prone positions then you also have to totally change the table set up as well as the angle of the radiation beams, and that is time comsuming and time equals money so 100% supine is more cost effective than 99% supine and 1% prone. My skin reaction to the radiation would have been the same whether in the supine or prone position. The prone position is also mostly used for women with large breasts which I have - yet the first facility strongly discourage me form doing it that way!

So I believe that we need thorough EDUCATION, as we are all aware of breast cancer. And in some cases education about all options available to us would not necessarily allow some doctors and breast cancer facilities to make the most money - and sometimes the patient takes second place to their bottom line!!

Judy
 
avatar
cgbingo replied to Christina Applegate's response:
Christina, as someone who has been through it yourself, we certainly appreciate your thoughts on this subject! I hope that you're doing well now.

Breast cancer runs in my family. We've had 10 family members get this horrible disease. I hope that one day we can say, "Remember when breast cancer affected so many lives?".
 
avatar
buck2411 responded:
I think it's kind of neat. And, the pink ribbon is also the sign of gay rights.

I buy special license plates in Illinois that are for breast cancer awareness and I buy the Breast Cancer stamps. I cannot do this alone so keep the pink!
 
avatar
yooper75 responded:
I'm a breast cancer survivor and I think that "pink" has run its course. Too much of a good thing. I do not need to be made aware of the fight for a cure by merchandising anything and everything in pink. Enough - put some dignity back into the awareness campaign!
 
avatar
sadblossom replied to yooper75's response:
I too have been dealing with this disease sense 2009. I don't think dignity has a color and I don't think wearing pink or the ribbons degrade the disease in any way nor robs it of it's dignity. I love to wear pink and the pink ribbon. And I will continue to wear them. I think it is a personal choice.
So, I say.......................KEEP THE PINK!!!
 
avatar
sadblossom responded:
I see no harm in wearing pink if you feel you are being 'supportive' for breast cancer patients and awareness. And 'dignity' does not come in colors either.
There will always be someone making money off of others misfortunes. That is just a part of life. I DO NOT think pink nor the pink ribbon should be worn JUST to increase sales in body decorations but that they be worn to 'honor' the people that have lost their lives due to this disease and to 'honor' the people who are dedicating their lives to help and research for a cure. There are people out there that have the patients best interest in mind. That are working hard to find new treatments and cures. I fully support these people. And if wearing or buying pink T-shirts and pink ribbons will help this cause then I am in for the long haul. These same people are the ones that have made our surgeries,treatments and meds that we have today possible. If we were where we were 20 years ago, we probably would not live past 5 years. But now we have a much better chance of living longer,healthier lives. Where do some people think these funds come from. We all must do our part for mankind. I myself do not object to funding what I can afford to if it will help spare my life and the lives of thousand of others.
A cure may never be found but we all know that there has been progress in treatments or a lot of us would not be here to read these posts.
Our energy should be focusing on helping ourselves and others fight this battle, on prayer, on compassion, on life itself instead of on whether pink is appropriate or over used. What a topic!
I support pink, pink ribbons, the 'pinkie' bus, pink clothes and/or any other color that gives a person any comfort or strength. And what is wrong with 'cutsie'. We lose so much self confidence as it is. Go cute, go pink and go live!
KEEP THE PINK and move on to living!


Helpful Tips

Candle Lighting Site
I located the Candle site!! It was apparently removed by WebMD but we can still access it and make use of it for each of us and for all our ... More
Was this Helpful?
1 of 1 found this helpful

Related News

There was an error with this newsfeed

Related Drug Reviews

  • Drug Name User Reviews

Report Problems With Your Medications to the FDA

FDAYou are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For more information, visit the Duke Health Breast Cancer Center