Breast Cancer is all around us. Whether it be awareness campaigns, or the people we know that are affected by this terrible condition, in some way, almost all of us are somehow tied to breast cancer. According to U.S Breast Cancer Statistics, one in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer over her lifetime (U.S Breast Cancer Statistics). Even more unsettling, in the past few years it has been noted that 85% of diagnoses occur in women that have no prior family history with breast cancer, targeting a majority of women, especially those who are older in age, catching thousands off guard with the terrible news of a diagnosis (U.S Breast Cancer Statistics).
Due to the fact this cancer touches so many lives and can cause high death tolls if not found and treated at an early onset, thousands have taken part in efforts to raise money, awareness, and funding to research and find a cure for this disease. Races, pink themed items, and pink ribbons seem to be the common trend among Americans who support finding relief for millions. This “mainstream breast cancer culture” has been a hot topic of discussion for many, including Barbara Ley, writing an article titled, “From Pink to Green”. Her article highlights this new culture and how it is intertwined with eco-feminist views. Eco-feminists say that instead of placing importance on treatments and finding a cure, emphasis should be on understanding the environmental and health damages that result from harmful products and treatments involved with breast cancer (Ley, 2009). A way they promote awareness is through the reduction of use of harmful products and pollutants, increasing exercise and healthier eating; all additional ways to help fight such a terrible cancer (Ley, 2009). Both the eco-feminists and mainstream breast cancer culture understand the importance of promoting treatments and awareness, however there is a greater divide in the outlooks they think are the best ways to fight against breast cancer.
Personally, I am in a sorority whose philanthropy is Breast Cancer Awareness. Each year we host events around Michigan State’s campus to help raise money and fight to find a cure. I believe these are great ways to bring awareness, however often times in stores we see items such as cups, shirts, and other small memorabilia that is stamped with the same breast cancer ribbon and symbol. I think these are additional small ways to bring attention to this issue, however I feel as though some have lost sight of the true objective. Instead of thinking in the best interest of the cause, many focus on the marketing of breast cancer awareness items that goes along with this “mainstream breast cancer culture”, fogging up the outlook on what is truly important. This commercialization can bring about awareness, but not in the same way activities and coming together to race or physically hand out ribbons to campus members can. Recently, the U.S House of Representatives has passed a bill that allows the post office to add an additional 8 cent charge to stamps if the customer chooses, in order to raise money for breast cancer. Although some think this idea is a beneficial one, others argue it fails to help out other organizations with good causes (The Lancet 1997). While I think any advocating for cancer is a wonderful thing, it is important to keep in mind there is more than one way of doing so, and more than one cause to fight for.
“Breast Cancer Gets the Hard Sell.” The Lancet (1997): 377. Elsevier. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.
Ley, Barbara L. From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2009. N. pag. Print.
“U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.” Breastcancer.org, 11 May 2015. Web. 18 Aug. 2015.