October – my birthday month. Until a couple of years ago, that would be the main thing I would think about in October, maybe combined with a groan and rolling of the eyes that it was also the month for Halloween (not my favourite date in the calendar) These days, I literally cannot escape the way that half the world seems to turn pink in honour of breast cancer awareness month.
Admittedly, I am much more attuned to it all now, and I’m much more connected to the cancer community these days, but the pink, pink, pink and boobs as far as the eye can see, is leaving me with some very mixed feelings.
I feel that I should be embracing breast cancer awareness month wholeheartedly, shouting from the rooftops about checking your boobs. Men, women, young, old, check check check. Anyone can get breast cancer at any time, as I know all too well. And 1000 people die of breast cancer every month in the UK – we definitely do not have this, one of the most common forms of cancer, kicked just yet.
More needs to be done, to help find treatments and cures, to get people aware that they should check their boobs, moobs, foobs! So breast cancer awareness month is still necessary and important, and I really want to do my part…
Instead, I want to head back to bed, put my head under the covers, and stay there until November when it is all over!
Going on to Facebook or Instagram- an essential part of running this site, feels like running the pink gauntlet. Breast cancer, breast cancer absolutely everywhere, people raising awareness, people talking about it, pink ribbons, pink t-shirts, pink lipstick, even pink mayonnaise! And I’m struggling to breathe with it all.
Companies cashing in on the pink pound, a couple of pence from each item sold, proves their corporate citizenship credentials and gives them warm fuzzy feelings whilst raking in the profits. The ones that really get my goat are the companies donating a tiny percentage of their profits to cancer charities whilst stuffing their products with toxic chemicals that (at best) contribute to the toxic load that all of us put our bodies through, and at worst, which are known carcinogens.
It is hypocrisy at it’s highest level and as someone who has both been through breast cancer and has taken the decision to try to be more conscious about the products I use, the food I eat and the personal impact I have on the environment/world, it sticks in my throat more than just a little bit.
I want to scream in fury at it all. Obviously, these companies don’t have to donate any of their profits at all, no-one is making them do it, and by doing so, it raises an awful lot of money for some brilliant charities, but let’s not kid ourselves, a lot of these companies know that putting a pink ribbon on something will help them boost their profits big-time!
So this October, I ask you to #thinkbeforeyoupink
Please do fundraise, raise awareness about knowing the symptoms, being body aware and knowing that cancer (not just breast) can hit anyone, at any time regardless of age, gender or race, and by all means, if you were planning on buying mayonnaise anyway, buy the pot that contributes to charity.
But, please also:
- Be aware that this can be an incredibly overwhelming, and highly triggering month for many, so be gentle to those around you who may be struggling and check in with them to see they are ok
- Know that random Facebook games like putting hearts/secret messages in your status does nothing to raise awareness, provide support or to help cure cancer
- Remember that there are over 250 different types of cancer – none of which are pink and fluffy (including breast cancer)
- Check the contribution if you are buying something suitably pink & glittery in aid of breast cancer charities this month – check how much is going to charity, find out more about the work the charity in question does and how your money will help (true awareness)
- Consider carefully the product and the manufacturer of the product in question, is it something you would buy anyway, and how do you feel about the ethics of the business?
- Assess whether a direct contribution to the charity be a better use of your money, and a more eco/ethical option?
- Think about what you can do to genuinely raise awareness and funds for cancer charities – not just in October, but all year round
I apologise if I come across as a bit “bah humbug”. I should point out that I love the colour pink – especially hot, so bright it almost hurts pink! I’m also partial to a bit of glitter here and there too. And I don’t hate breast cancer awareness month, even if I am (clearly) a little bit triggered by it all.
There are so many amazing things going on this month in aid of breast cancer , and I don’t want to take away from what is a really important month for many charitable organisations, raising millions of pounds for some truly brilliant charities. Let’s not take away from this, but please let’s also not get sucked in to pinkwashing.
- Instead let’s keep raising awareness all year round, not just for breast cancer, but for all cancers.
- Let’s keep encouraging people to be body aware all year round, to know their normal and get things that don’t seem right checked out – this is the number one way that lives can be saved.
- Let’s do our bit for charity all year round – there are so many great ones out there, in desperate need of not just our money, but also our time and energy.
But can we please stop glossing over a horrible illness as something cutesy and fluffy. Do all of the above things and let’s keep the pink and glittery for when we just feel like being pink and glittery, and the pink wash as something we do to our hair!
Happy Halloween everyone 😉