Monday, October 19, 2015

Fall Foliage and Pink Ribbons: It Must be October

By Rose Strong

My maternal grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer in the mid 1970s. It was a time when people didn’t talk about cancer, let alone the specificity of breast cancer, despite President Nixon signing the National Cancer Act in 1971. It was truly a taboo subject, spoken about in hushed tones, and there was little knowledge of the disease or treatment other than to “slash, cut and poison,” to quote Dr. Susan Love, breast cancer specialist, patient advocate and author of Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and once again we are in the midst of both the fall foliage season here in North America and pinkwashing month.

We should be aware of breast cancer. Breast cancer awareness campaigns have been going on for years and unless you have your head under a rock, at this point, I can’t imagine anyone being unaware of what a pink ribbon means. Today, shouldn’t we be making some real progress toward a cure for the disease instead of just making people aware of it? As the Breast Cancer Fund says, “Pink ribbons are everywhere, but when 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, how much more awareness do we need?”

Many of the companies you see in your local food market, pharmacy, big box store and even home improvement warehouse have products that display pink ribbons to give to specific charities. But are those companies truly giving, and, if so, just how much of your hard-earned dollars are going to the breast cancer charities on the label? Are the charities worthwhile and using the money to fight cancer or pay their administrative fees? These are all questions to consider along with others as Allison Takeda stresses in her article for, where she shows us the top 10 “pinked out products” over the years.

Breast Cancer Action, a gritty, to-the-point, group that strives to mix awareness with strident action and justice for those with or at risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, has taken on the American Cancer Society this year. It was brought to’s attention that some of the products that are in their ‘Look Good/Feel Good’ program bags given to women having treatment for the disease may have ingredients that cause cancer or impede the process of the medical treatment those women are receiving to fight their breast cancer.

Who’s Doing the Watching?

How do you find out about the charities accepting donations for breast cancer research and advocacy? Here are two sites that help sort out the good, the bad and the ugly:
  • Check out, a comprehensive website that allows you to research any charity or other nonprofit before you donate. The site gives information on how to choose a charity and give to one that uses your money judiciously and offers direct reviews from those who have donated to or been involved with the charity.
  • is a project of Breast Cancer Action started in response to the onslaught of pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness.
I’d enjoy hearing your stories of charitable giving. Do you give at work? Ever just drop change in a bucket or do you research the charity of your choice before you give? Let me know in the comments below.

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