BY: Jennifer Angarano-Ricci – “Ms. Happy, Alive & Built to Survive”
Welcome to October- Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But did you know that it’s also the awareness month for: Chiropractic Health, Dental Hygiene Month, Disability Employment, Domestic Violence, Halloween Safety, Health Literacy, Liver Awareness, Medical Librarians, Medical Ultrasound, Patient-Centered Care, Pharmacists, Physical Therapy, SIDS, Pregnancy and Infant Loss, “Talk About Your Medicines”, Down Syndrome, Fire Prevention, National Bullying Prevention, ADHD- And SO many others? I didn’t! I knew about October being Pregnancy and infant loss, because my husband and I, unfortunately, carry the burden of that loss, and I knew about Breast Cancer Awareness because as soon as October 1st comes around, everything’s PINK! Some even call it Pinktober… so, what does all this pink mean?
Going pink for October and Breast Cancer Awareness can mean a number of things- mainly, that by wearing pink, you support breast cancer patients and survivors. Also- and this is the important one to remember- by buying special edition pink items from companies, that those companies will donate a portion of your purchase towards breast cancer research, or funding mammograms and treatments. PLEASE make sure when you buy something that’s suddenly pink in October that it says on the product that a portion of the sales will go to a breast cancer foundation, and if so, HOW much. Believe it or not- there are some places that just go pink for the uptake in sales…and that’s NOT cool.
Anyway- let’s get back to pink stuff. Why IS stuff pink, anyway? The answer is: In 1991, the Susan G. Komen Breast Foundation began handing out pink ribbons for participants in the New York City race for breast cancer survivors, and it just took off from there. Nowadays- EVERYTHING’S pink- bracelets, shirts, pens, cups, scarves, sneakers- you name it- but how do breast cancer patients and survivors feel about all that pink?
Well, as a breast cancer survivor, I have to honestly say that I have a love/hate relationship with the pink stuff. As long as the company that’s advertising “pink” in October says that a portion of sales will be donated towards breast cancer research or some type of funding, I’m okay with it. A pink ribbon on a box of cookies? Who cares. A pair of sneakers with a pink stripe on them? Go for it. Wearing pink shirts, tutus, bows, etc. to one of the many breast cancer walks? You go, girl! But- a scarf with pink ribbons all over it? Meh. A pink and white t-shirt that reads “Save Second Base”- clever, but…NO. Anything pink that says anything to the tune of, “I kicked cancer’s ass”- Not so sure about that. For me, I like certain things on the subtle side. I did, in fact, kick cancer’s ass, but I don’t want to wear a shirt proclaiming it- because I’m so much more than that one thing. I don’t want to wear pink ribbons all over me, because, as I mentioned above, there’s more to me than breast cancer, so I don’t want that to be my main identity. And I’m not the only one. At least one of my “Pink Sisters” hates the whole “Pink” thing. She says, “I think it’s great that women find support in support groups and fundraisers and all of the pink things, but none of it was for me. I’m still very uncomfortable with it.”
Another Pink Sister says, “I don’t mind all the pink. To me, it represents a focal point to remind women to take care of themselves and get their mammogram. I only give to ACS or any foundation that includes money for research. Putting a pink ribbon on a beer bottle is ridiculous to me. And I want to know how much of that purchase price is actually going to a research organization.”
For some of us, the attention to awareness is comforting, and supportive- and that is wonderful- but for some others, it’s uncomfortable. And you know what? It’s okay either way.
Pink is pretty, but go behind the pink and get to the real thing- the awareness. Breast Cancer affects 1 in 8 women, think about that. That’s A LOT of people. Make sure that the females in your lives are taking care of their general health, and their breast health. Give to reputable organizations that take your money and put the bulk of it towards research and funding. Buy that pink shirt- but make sure you know where the money is going. Another Pink Sister gave this example, “[Company to be unnamed] has a pink fleece. It costs $5 more than the non-pink. Only $4 of that extra cost goes to breast cancer. Why not all $5?” Support your friends going through this horrible disease, and let people support you if you’re going through it (maybe by buying each other pink bras? Hahahahaha).
I leave you with my favorite example of using pink for breast cancer:
Jennifer Angarano Ricci is a wife, mother & creative soul-searcher. She is a musician, artist, and baker, and runs her home business Baked By Jen, in addition to running her local community theater group. She loves to sing, create and help others, and tries to connect all three passions whenever possible.