Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pinktober Misconceptions

Picture from
Usually when I post, it's with information about MY breast cancer and how I'm doing personally. I even managed to do that on my Pinktober post last year. Today, I'm going to veer away from posting about myself just a little bit to make sure that you understand two important things about Pinktober. It's fine with me if you want to "celebrate" (although I do not), but the teacher in me has to make sure you comprehend what's going on.

Misconception number one is about self-exams and mammograms. They do not cure breast cancer, and they do not save lives. If you are performing a self exam or getting your annual mammogram and a malignant lump is found, you already have cancer. While it's great that breast cancer awareness led you to find the cancer, you still have cancer. Personally, I had my first mammogram at age 35 (earlier than recommended) and nothing was found. They told me I didn't have to come back until after 40, and then through a self-exam at 39, I found my cancer. It wasn't CURED by my diligence and awareness. And no matter how early I'd found it, it could still come back after all this treatment I've received (called metastatic breast cancer, which I've mentioned fearfully but realistically a number of times before). My point is that people being "aware" of breast cancer isn't doing the trick. The money and celebrations should focus on paying scientists to find that cure.

The second misconception is about the pink stuff you see in stores. Imagine you run into the grocery store for toilet paper and yogurt. On the way to the check-out, you see some cute, pink, fuzzy socks with a pink ribbon on them. The sign above the socks says that 10% of proceeds for fuzzy sock sales go to breast cancer research and awareness.You figure that with winter coming, you can never have too many warm socks, and you're helping out with this breast cancer thing, too, so the $10 for the socks is well spent.  Guess what? You just gave $1 to help with that cure mentioned above (or less, if you discount the awareness part), and you gave $9 to the grocery store and the sock manufacturer on an item you weren't planning to buy in the first place. Just an idea: Send the whole $10 to a reputable breast cancer researcher. Or buy a meal for someone undergoing treatment. Then get your socks at the sock store when you need them.

I tried to keep this short and simple so I only included two of many misconceptions. There are plenty of other breast cancer bloggers like me who have negative opinions of Pinktober and pink in general. If you're interested, here's a link from Nancy's Point (blog) and another from The Accidental Amazon (blog), and an amazing article from last April in the New York Times but in general, just Think Before You Pink.


  1. Thanks, Shari! Would you mind if I shared blog post on Facebook? I think it serves as an excellent reminder and its well written. But I'm cool if you'd rather I didn't. Nina

    1. Share! Share! I'm out to educate anyone. (And thanks for understanding what I'm trying to say.)

  2. I think everyone needs to see Pink Ribbons, will open their eyes in a much needed way!