Its Breast Cancer Awareness Month once again. Pinktober, when everything from T-shirts to mugs to jewelry is covered in pink ribbons and sold in stores. The time of year when social media lights up with superficial posts and reminders to get your annual mammogram. But this year, let’s do something more meaningful than wearing pink and posting on Facebook. Let’s look beyond the pink and choose better ways to support the breast cancer cause. Let’s focus on helping to find a cure!
Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985 to bring widespread attention to breast cancer. And the positive news is it has done that. If you aren’t aware of breast cancer, the need for mammograms, self-checks, and early detection by now, you’ve been in a coma or living on a deserted island for the past three decades.
Yet many organizations are still spending most of the donations they receive on education instead of focusing on the real need, research to find a cure.
Pink Ribbons mean Big Business
Unfortunately, over the past 35 years, Breast Cancer Awareness month has become commercialized and is BIG business. Pink ribbons, pink merchandise, and advertisements that promises to donate a few cents or bucks if you buy their product.
Today, I saw an ad on Facebook advertising a pink bra with a pink breast cancer ribbon flag. The bra sells for $67, and the company is donating $2.00 for each bra sold. So about 3% of each sale goes to a breast cancer organization. I decided to check the organization receiving the donation in Charity Navigator and find out just where that money will go.
Here’s what I discovered: The organization will receive the $2.00 donation but will use only $1.54 (77%) of that money on breast cancer programs. And, less than 42 cents (28.8%) of that $1.54 will be spent on research to find a cure. So, if you buy this $67 pink bra, you will only be donating 42 cents towards finding a cure.
But, some companies selling these pink products don’t donate anything to the Breast Cancer cause. These companies are making money off a deadly disease! I don’t know about you, but this infuriates me!
A Better Way to Support Breast Cancer Research and to help find a Cure
So what can you do? You can stop buying pink ribbon merchandise. But, if you are going to purchase something, make sure the company is donating an acceptable percentage of the item’s price to a worthy organization that will spend the money on research.
But rather than buying the merchandise, why not donate the $67 you would spend on the bra. Instead of $2.00, the organization now receives $67. Plus, you get to choose the organization and will know how the money is used.
Donate to a Worthy Organization
There are so many breast cancer organizations. How do you decide which one to support? One way is to check out Charity Navigator’s curated list of Breast Cancer Organizations with their rankings. To ensure the money you give is spent wisely, choose 4-star organizations.
Then click on the organization you’re interested in and look at the rating profile and programs. The rating profile will tell you what percentage of your donation goes towards the programs and services they provide.
From there, you can click on the programs and see what programs and services they provide – research, medical care, education and awareness, diagnostic services, etc.
When you find an organization that interests you, go to their website and read through their mission statement and what they are accomplishing.
To give you an example, I’ll choose one of my favorite breast cancer organizations, Metavivor. Charity Navigator gives it four stars. 95.3% of the money it receives goes directly to research programs. the
Looking at their website, I discovered that these research programs are for Metastatic Breast Cancer research.
According to Metavivor, “30% of breast cancer will metastasize, but only 2-5% of research funding goes to metastatic breast cancer.”
So, before you donate your hard-earned money, make sure it is going to a worthwhile charity.
Support Local Breast Cancer Organizations
You can also show your support by getting involved in local organizations, either by donating to them or volunteering. Participate in their fundraising projects. Offer to volunteer for their organization. And, of course, donations are always needed.
The wonderful thing about supporting your local breast cancer organizations is that you help those in your own neighborhood. The money goes right back into your community.
Volunteer Your Time and Talents
Contact your local cancer treatment centers in your area and volunteer your time and talents. There are so many ways you can do this, depending on what the center needs and allows. At one center, I know they used volunteers to hand out snacks, blankets, etc. (Pre-Covid 19). At another center, volunteers play the piano in the waiting room to provide a calm and peaceful environment.
And, if you’re the crafty type, you can knit, crochet, or sew chemo caps and scarves. You can put together little “chemotherapy bags” filled with items patients may need (bottled water, mints, lip balm, etc.) You could make cute cards, jewelry, painted rocks, and anything else that would brighten a cancer patient’s day.
Do Something Kind for Someone Going through Breast Cancer, Survivor, Thriver, Metavivor
October can be a rough month for breast cancer patients, survivors, thrivers, and metavivors. I know it is for me. Honestly, I find the pink ribbons, advertisements, and many posts on social media overwhelming. I know others who feel the same way.
However, I’m grateful for all the good Breast Cancer Awareness Month has brought over the years. It has brought attention to this disease, raised money for needed research to find better treatments, and hopefully, one day, a cure. My point is if you know someone going through breast cancer or someone who has been through it, consider doing something special for them this month. It may be just what they need to lift their spirits that day. Check my post on How to Help Someone During Cancer Treatments for ways you can show your support to someone going through breast cancer.
BE AWARE OF WHAT YOU SHARE on Social Media
There are so many posts shared on social media during the month, and that’s wonderful. But be aware of what you share. What is cute to you may be offensive to a breast cancer patient or survivor.
For example, yesterday, a friend posted a photo of several dogs, each with two pink balloons attached to their chests. Across the image read, “Don’t forget to get those puppies checked.”
While the image was cute and the point was to remind us to get our mammograms, phrases like “Save the Tata’s, save second base, get those puppies checked, etc.” makes light of this disease. Breast Cancer Awareness month isn’t about “saving the Tata’s.” It is about saving the women (and men) who are going through this disease. It’s about Women who have to make the tough choice of losing their breasts to save their lives. It’s about those who are cancer-free and those still receiving treatments. And, it’s about doing what you need to do, getting mammograms and doing self-checks, and detecting breast cancer at the earliest stage possible.
Take Care of Your Breast Health and Encourage Your Friends Also
October is the best time to recognize the importance of good breast health. Get your annual mammogram and remember to do breast self-exams at least once every month. And encourage your friends to do the same.
Show your support all through the Year, Not just in October
October will be over soon, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop showing your support. Why not show your support all year long. Keep donating to a breast cancer charity, volunteering in your community’s organizations and cancer centers, showing kindness to others going through treatment, and take care of your health.
Together we can help find a cure to Breast Cancer.