Not everyone is a fan.
In working with cancer patients over the past 70 years, not to mention the fact that the majority of our staff has been through a cancer diagnosis either ourselves or through a loved one or as a caregiver, we have developed a keen understanding of what it is like to actually be a cancer patient. One of the most poignant revelations we've come to is that not every cancer patient, or even breast cancer patient, wants to be bombarded with Pink everything. And, every October, we are reminded of how marketed breast cancer really is in comparison to other cancers.... Do you ever wonder, why?
Thanks to a probably billion dollar marketing platform, most of us are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This begs the question, do you know when Colorectal Cancer Awareness is recognized? Do you know which month we celebrate national childhood cancer awareness? What about brain cancer?
In addition, when you are going through cancer, you are poked and prodded and read black-and-white test or surgery results that can crush your loved ones and your family's spirits. You lose body hair and find it hard to hide that you're going through cancer treatment. Wherever you go, you tend to feel eyes upon you... Possibly, you don't want more attention drawn to you by wearing a bright Pink ribbon.
I absolutely am one who is not a huge fan when it comes to #Pinktober. My husband died in 2007 after an 8 year battle with brain and spine cancer. There is not a ribbon for spine cancer. Brain cancer uses the color gray as a symbol. When was the last time you saw a gray ribbon or a gray t-shirt with the saying "Save the Noggins"? Did you know that May is National Brain Cancer Awareness month? And what about all the other types of cancers? Check out this site for more information.
One of the reasons I love Cancer Patient Services is that we help people with ALL types of cancer and at all stages of cancer. And the help that is provided is of the same love and at the same level for everyone. I think a majority would agree that cancer is a horrible disease and we should support anyone that has received that devastating diagnosis. Every person, no matter what type of cancer, deserves our support, equally. So, why do national advertising campaigns and organizations focus so much time and energy and resource solely on breast cancer? And why are we not more careful about over-marketing a very sensitive subject? (i.e. You can find advertising for breast cancer awareness and national non-profits on the lids of your yogurt, on a bottle of nail polish, and on your household cleaning items, now).
Please don’t get me wrong. I think the Pink Ribbon campaign was a wonderful idea when it was first introduced 25 years ago. Breast cancer awareness and breast health needed to be talked about! The campaign worked. We all know what is means when we see a pink ribbon. So, now how do we bring awareness, or better yet support, for all the other types of cancer? And, how do we remain mindful of every stage and level of a cancer diagnosis and show support rather than manipulate a symbol like the pink ribbon for marketing initiatives?
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Carol Metzger is CEO of CPS. After losing her husband and her mother to cancer, she gets the gravity of a cancer diagnosis. But, in working with CPS clients over the past five years, she also has seen happiness and friendship evolve out of the support and love we extend one another. This blog is a lot of Carol’s first and second hand experiences with people going through cancer, and she welcomes comments and feedback from you.