Blog 7: Breast Cancer Culture – Katelyn Carless

Mainstream breast cancer culture is seen to be focused on finding a cure rather than finding prevention. In Ley’s article, she describes one part of mainstream breast cancer culture is advocacy efforts. Within these efforts, dozens of corporations and businesses are selling products, organizing competitions, or awareness walks to name a few. The strength to companies doing this is raising awareness for breast cancer, but Barbara Ehrenreich noted negatives to these companies efforts. Corporate sponsorship leads to a significant portion of the money raised going to overhead costs and advertising costs (Ley, 2009). Also, products sold with a ribbon may very well still gain a profit for the company and not go solely to the cause. I agree with this idea from Ehrenreich because personally I have been aware and have participated in efforts to raise money for breast cancer for a decade now. Before even reading Ley’s article I have often wondered why there is no major cure’s or prevention’s that have come out. I always want to donate money when a store is doing a campaign or I want to run a 5K that raises money for breast cancer research, but when will I truly be able to see and feel that my money has made a difference.

In Ley’s article, we read about the pink ribbon and how it is a dominant symbol among breast cancer. We can buy almost everything with a pink ribbon on it but “to critics it symbolizes all that is wrong with mainstream breast cancer culture” (Ley, 2009). This is where the feminism comes into place. Pink has always been associated with a woman and some feel the breast cancer ribbon being pink belittles women. If breast cancer was found dominantly in men would they get a bold manly color, like a camouflage print? For some, the pink ribbon is seen to them as an empty symbol because a pink frilly ribbon does not show the strength behind breast cancer. Breast Cancer Funds 1999 campaign showed the struggle of placing breast cancer as an environmental health issue versus a women’s health issue. The main reasoning behind the attempts to make breast cancer categorized as an environmental heath issue was to receive more funding for breast cancer research. By it being labeled as a women’s health issue, it was extremely underfunded. Ehrenreich shared that mainstream breast cancer culture has ultra-feminine and infantilizing tendencies that social, political, economical, and environmental policies are responsible for causing the current breast cancer epidemic. All these factors lead to the reality of breast cancer today. After experiencing a Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Ley described the empowerment it had on her. She says that although the race did not necessarily move women to check their local water supply environmentally, it could have given them courage to fight through their next chemotherapy session. The race may not have made family members join Breast Cancer Action, but it could have made racers feel more connected to their mother, sister, aunt, etc. Ley explains that if the race made women feel more connected to each other, how was she able to say the event was not feminist enough? In this article, I have realized the research and efforts mainstream breast cancer culture put towards finding a cure or learning about early detection and treatment needs to shift their focus and find out how to prevent breast cancer. What are the potential environmental causes to breast cancer. Once breast cancer is prevented, early detection and treatment will have no significant use.


One thought on “Blog 7: Breast Cancer Culture – Katelyn Carless

  1. I definitely agree with you point that now we are trying to find a cure for breast cancer instead of focusing on prevention. While it is always great to have a cure, it is, unfortunately, after one contracts the condition that a cure can be administered. Prevention is the most effective route in the long run, and I believe that more focus should be out into such endeavors in order to tackle the problem before it even strikes an individual. Additionally, I agree with your point about why there is not any major developments in the areas of cures or preventions for breast cancer, despite the massive amounts of money being invested in the endeavor. People need to see results in order to continue to support and donate towards a cause. At this rate, it could be many years before any significant discovery is made that can alter the path of breast cancer drug research. Regardless, I will continue to play my part and donate towards the noble cause whenever I can.

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