Cancer is caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body and is the second most leasing cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease (Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2015). Breast cancer is a form of this abnormal cell growth that has developed in the breast. While often associated with women, men can be diagnosed with breast cancer, as well. 99% of breast cancers are found in women (Ley 2009). The frequency at which women are diagnosed with breast cancer is climbing to one in every eight women being diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives (Pool 2012). With this increased rate, breast cancer awareness is intertwining itself with our everyday lives, especially though the mainstream breast cancer culture.
The mainstream breast cancer culture has its strengths and its weaknesses. While intended to bring about an awareness in individuals throughout the public atmosphere, the mainstream breast cancer culture focuses primarily on finding a cure for breast cancer and early detection. It is not currently known what causes this abnormal cell growth or specifically how to cure it. Currently, women usually go through chemotherapy in an effort to kill the cancerous cells and sometimes even a mastectomy, a removal of all breast tissue from the breast. With today’s mainstream breast cancer culture, little research is going towards the prevention of breast cancer (Ley 2009). While the focus on finding a cure can be seen as a strength as it may be able to find a treatment for breast cancer sooner, it is also a weakness. Without finding out what is causing the formation of these cancerous cells, there is no way of preventing the disease. It is thought that the disease is connected to environmental factors, including air pollution (Ley 2009). This gives women who lives in poorer, more polluted areas a disadvantage and more increased chance of developing breast cancer at some point in their lives. The eco-feminists view of Ley see this as a weakness in the mainstream breast cancer culture. Eco-feminists believe mainstream breast cancer culture is ignoring the factors that allow for the development of breast cancer. If these factors continue to exist, then the disease will continue to exist. The best way to prevent death from breast cancer is through its prevention.
Mainstream breast cancer culture is also focused on the symbol of its pink ribbon. The pink ribbon is found on a plethora of products globally, from teddy bears to mugs to trash cans (Pool 2012). It was first introduced during a Run for the Cure Event (Ley 2009). This event is meant to fundraise for a cure for the disease. Eco-feminists do not like this idea, as again, they would rather research focus on the prevention of the disease to help less people have to go through its struggle to begin with. This race and the mainstream breast cancer culture does have a strength, however. According to Ley, the race – and the pink ribbon – help survivors and those going through the battle of breast cancer to band together. This feeling helps them through their next chemotherapy treatment, with the help of supporting someone with the disease, and through supporting those who have gone through physical alterations as a result of the disease. Mainstream breast cancer culture also helps women with the disease who have had chemotherapy burns by showing them how to apply makeup so as to look like they have never occurred. This helps to boost morale (Ley 2009).
Leading Causes of Death. (2016, April 27). Retrieved August 14, 2016, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
Ley, B. L. (2009). Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement. In From Pink to Green (1st ed., pp. 106-136). Rutgers University Press.
Pool, L. (2012, April 22). Pink Ribbon Inc. Retrieved August 14, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAECbKClFW4