This week’s topic was of great interest to me, as breast cancer awareness is the national philanthropy of my sorority Sigma Lambda Gamma. We make sure to participate in breast cancer awareness walks, plan and host programs to educate others on breast cancer, and raise money to donate towards breast cancer research and other initiatives. Around half a year after I first joined the organization, the conversation of where the money we raise and donate REALLY goes towards. A member that has been in the organization longer than me started sharing things about these charities and corporations that I had never realized before. Coming into this week I had slight prior knowledge on the whole issue, but I have learned a great deal this week that has truly opened my eyes.
The fact that there are many ways out there to spread awareness on this tragic and prevalent disease is great! Besides walks and runs, there are pink items to buy that donate a portion towards breast cancer research. There are educational programs to attend where women can learn more about the disease and how to check for signs of the disease. A program that I organized on Michigan State’s campus was Pink Fight for her Flight, where we had speakers who are suffering from breast cancer gave words of encouragement and had professionals/individuals in academia speak more about the issue of breast cancer within our society and what we can do about it. To end the event, every person who attended the event received a pink balloon and wrote a message of hope on it, so we could eventually release all of the balloons into the sky. More people are now aware about how serious breast cancer is and its effects on so many individuals around the globe, and millions of dollars have been raised to support. The concerns, however, start to stem from us wondering where exactly these millions of dollars are going to, and if this money is actually being used for making progress towards this worldwide issue.
The Cine Politics video that discussed the film “Pink Ribbon Inc.” honestly had me experiencing a widespread array of feelings. I was angered, disappointed, and in disbelief because so many excellent points were shared that exposed genuine truths about the breast cancer industry. As shared in the video, many companies sell breast cancer awareness items, or items in pink, to promote awareness and to raise funds to go towards “research”. But like asked in From Pink to Green by Barbara Ley, how much of this raised money is ACTUALLY going towards breast cancer research for the cure or for prevention? Some of these companies, according to the Cine Politics video, promote breast cancer awareness with their products but sell products that contain the same chemicals linked to the formation of breast cancer! Why is this so among so many companies? The initiative of providing awareness and supporting a great cause has turned into a business. As mentioned, these pharmaceutical companies thrive off of the many cancer patients requiring treatment and buying their medications, so their focus isn’t on eradicating breast cancer and diminishing the amount of patients.
Many companies and charities state that the money fundraised will go towards research for finding a cure for breast cancer. For many years, this has been one of the main goals said for fundraising, yet there hasn’t been much progress towards finding a cure at all, which is very concerning. Many people aren’t aware of this or are too afraid to speak out because breast cancer awareness sheds such good life. Different individuals and groups believe that allotting designated amounts of money towards prevention and taking care of the women suffering from the disease currently. Environmentalists and feminists share common interest in researching prevention methods and the effects of environmental degradation because our society tends to blame women for contracting the disease due to their lifestyle choices instead of these systems in place that make it difficult for consumers to avoid these toxic substances (Ley, 2009). Instead of glamorizing and just “accepting” the disease, we need to realize the harshness of breast cancer and how the industry’s cruel ways are perpetuating it.
- Ley, Barbara. From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement (2009): 106-136.
- Cine Politics Video. “Pink Ribbon Inc.” April 21 2012.