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Overheard on CNN: Less pink, more cures for breast cancer
October 26th, 2012
07:15 AM ET

Overheard on CNN: Less pink, more cures for breast cancer

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as you might have gathered from pink ribbons and fundraising events in your community.

Many CNN commenters expressed skepticism about the so-called “pinkwashing” of October, echoing the sentiments of some women quoted in my recent article who don't feel connected to all of the awareness efforts.

KtinME writes that the color pink is particularly vexing to her because it has come to represent the commercialization of breast cancer awareness:

I criticized my hospital for using pink envelopes when mailing out mammogram results and was told in no uncertain terms that pink was the color of caring and compassion and that I obviously had issues with fear of breast cancer. I don't have a fear of breast cancer, but I will agree I have issues with the commercialism and complete co-opting of the color pink.

Pink envelopes with mammogram results are creepy. Pink shoes on football players are stupid. Pink merchandise is just plain silly. I used to like pink.

[…] a COLOR is meaningless when it comes to what cancer patients need and a COLOR is an easy way out for people to think they're being supportive of cancer awareness, cancer patients, and cancer survivors. How about instead we give them rides for their treatment, clean homes to come to, meals to eat, affordable access to medical care at home? How about we make sure their employers keep their jobs open for them? How about we make sure they have insurance now and forever? THOSE things would mean a lot more than sporting a pink bracelet or buying something pink. Enough with the pink!!!

Several readers such as Anthony Quatroni believe that “it’s all about money” – in other words, curing diseases isn’t as profitable as long-term treatments, so a cure will never be found.

But prattguy, self-identified as someone who works in medical research, pointed out that polio is a disease that was cured, yet foundations are still working to eradicate it worldwide.

Klur added that cancer is not one disease, it’s many diverse diseases even within a single organ. But there’s good news:

Many women who get breast cancer now survive to live a long and fruitful life thanks to advancements in cancer research. So, no, the reason for research investment is not greed!!! Furthermore, people who work in academia doing research are not getting rich- believe me- they are overworked and highly underpaid for the research that they dedicate their lives to.

Bschneid agreed, reminding fellow commenters that a lot of people dedicated to cancer research aren’t making such big profits:

Most cancer researchers do not make a lot of money, but are either cancer survivors themselves or have a loved one who has cancer or died of cancer. They have plenty of motivation. My husband, a cancer researcher, goes to work seven days a week while dealing with chemotherapy himself. To suggest that greed is the reason there is no "cure" for cancer is ignorant.

Some pointed out that other awareness months don’t get nearly as much attention. TexasRunner wrote:

This isn't a man vs. woman issue. September is National Prostate Awareness month but does it garner as much attention as the PINK does for breast cancer in October? No, it doesn't. Men deal with our own forms of cancer like prostate cancer and testicular cancer yet the drives to find a cure for those forms of cancer pale in comparison, usually because it hits a lower number for testicular cancer and for prostate cancer it happens at an older age. Do you not think men who have testicular cancer aren't aware of the jokes surrounding it?

So regardless of whether or not you like the slogans at least people pay attention and are aware and donate to find a cure.


soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. James

    The issue isn't whether "people who work in academia doing research are... underpaid" it's that big corporations (ones that are actually RESPONSIBLE for some of these cancers) are using the pink brand too sell products and get money. Sure, some money is going to cancer research, but the sheer hypocrisy of some companies that use the pink ribbon brand is staggering. Those companies should be held accountable, instead of rewarded for just making their product pink like it's some validation in support of cancer research.

    October 26, 2012 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Eileen

    I totally agree with KtinME. I actually saw fire fighters dressed in pink and thought it was silly. I am a cancer survivor but not of breast cancer. The color pink may make us aware of breast cancer but when a person is saturated with this kind of publicity, you tend to dismiss it. Give your money for a cure for all cancer. I think we have had enough of pink.

    October 26, 2012 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. jayne

    The whole thing is very very wrong, cancer research is a HUGE money making industry involving untold animal suffering, our current society functions on simplistic sound bites......buy a pink mixer and help fight cancer........as though cancer is an evil dictator living in our midst! It's common knowledge that lifestyle, diet and the toxins that are in our environment and foods are some of the triggers for our bodies to create tumors..............but hey never mind about, that just keep wearing your pink t shirt, filling the corporations pockets with money and hoping for a cure!

    October 26, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Claudia

    I feel for all of the thoughtful, hard-working, compassionate people who are pouring imoney and time in to the pink cause, to help themselves and their loved ones. It's a money-making machine, but not enough goes towards actually curing the disease, or educating people. Most doctors don't even know that cancer loves sugar. Right after my husband's cancer colorectal surgery, they fed him popsicles, sherbert and sugared juice. People need to learn about how to prevent disease, not just treat it with drugs, surgery and chemo/radiation. We go out of the country for better treatment like vitamin IVs and hyperthermia. Hmm, why are things that illegal here? The money these lovely people donate should be used to explore gentle, effective treatments, not just feed corporate greed.

    October 26, 2012 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jennifer

    A lot of excellent points by KtinME and the others. The whole pink thing frankly leaves me cold. Someones innocent enough idea of pink ribbons in support of breast cancer research has, naturally, morphed into a huge, commercial venture. I remember pink and white Campbell's soup cans in the market a few years ago. Give me a break! By the way TexasRunner, I didn't know anyone made jokes about testicular cancer.

    October 26, 2012 at 19:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. EDK

    February is Heart Disease awareness month. One in thirty women will tragically die from breast cancer. Meanwhile, one half to one third of women will die from heart attack and stroke. You don't see this kind of mass marketing of merchandise. All I see is the work of an advertising genius who has convinced people that spending money on something for themselves, of which an undisclosed "portion of the proceeds" will be donated to "breast cancer research." Rather unspecific. What's the portion? What research group? Pink marketing is pandering to a lazy public. 'look at me look at me, I spent $40 on a pink tshirt and $2 was donated to the local community college's science program!'

    October 26, 2012 at 22:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. saveyourfeet

    I'm a diabetic. What's important to me is that I almost lost my feet to amputation because of diabetic complications. What brought them back from the brink of amputation? Saveyourfeet.wordpress.com if you are a diabetic, read this blog!!!!NOW!!!

    October 27, 2012 at 23:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. saveyourfeet

    I am a diabetic. almost 2 years ago I was on the verge of losing my feet because of diabetic complications. A simple change in site injection saved them. they are now healthy and normal. go to this blog for the 411

    October 28, 2012 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Cnreader

    Breasts are sexy. Men don't like the idea of a woman with no breasts. This is why it is a popular cause. If it was a cervix that would be different. Same reason why caesarians became so popular ...

    October 28, 2012 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kev Johnston

    The FDA is letting slide a LOT of things when it comes to Drug makers. One of my best friends just got kidney damage from an FDA mishap.

    I'm not trying to plug a charity here, but if you would be so kind to Google "Ronen's Road to Recovery" and help the cause, we would be VERY appreciative. Thank You!

    October 28, 2012 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Bob Bubble

    I'm a reasonably compassionate person, and a health care professional, and though I fortunately do not have any form of cancer I *am* sick - sick of all these awareness-heightening campaigns that interfere with my ball-game and sit-com viewing pleasure. Sound harsh? I don't think so. Does the NBA et al really care about breast cancer or are they just trying to improve their image? My health is improved by relaxing in the evenings, and I don't need to be reminded about horrible diseases at every turn. Give it a rest, Stand Up To Susan G. Turn It Pink Koman For Never Give Up The Cure. Let's compromise: I'll make a $100 contribution to *anything* if my TV will block pink baseball bats and football mouthpieces for a year.

    October 28, 2012 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tammy Hagler

    My mother died 3 1/2 months ago from ovarian cancer. Our family was so sick of pink that we made sure that there were no pink flowers at the memorial and no one wore pink. All cancers suck! We need to find a cure for all of them! Unrealistic yes...hopeful yes!

    October 29, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jamyah

      i agree, sorry about your mom

      October 30, 2012 at 20:39 | Report abuse |
    • WTH

      I am so sorry for your loss Tammy. I too lost my Mom to ovarian cancer back on May 3rd of this year. She fought a strong fight for one month short of six years. I wear my TEAL "bracelet" that my daughter made for me, and will wear it till the day I die. All for my Mom. No pink at her funeral either. We all wore something yellow, her favorite color, all in her honor.

      November 20, 2012 at 06:06 | Report abuse |
  13. sameoldsame7

    As an oncology nurse with 13 years under my belt dealing day in and day out with many different kids of cancer, the commercialization of breast cancer makes me sick. There are so many other cancers out there that are far, far worse than breast cancer. It is almost like it is "in" to have breast cancer now. How about a women with rectal cancer, who just lost her rectum to surgery and now has a bag attached to her stomach emptying her excrement because her excrement can't empty through her colon anymore? How about where some bright blue foot shoes to show your support for rectal cancer NFL? Hell no, it is gross, but awww.....boobs are great? Just gross. All the money made from breast cancer should go to a huge cancer pot, for all cancers. Makes me sick!

    October 29, 2012 at 18:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Tom Hennessy

    The government adds the metal iron to all our foods and this causes an increase of iron in the body and this increase of iron has been closely implicated in cancer.
    "The role of iron in cancer."
    The problem being , meat is high in iron , and even talking bad about meat can get you sued.

    October 30, 2012 at 12:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. jamyah

    there is a lot of people suffering so breast cancer is a big thing to all the servivers congragulations

    October 30, 2012 at 20:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Joyce Rogier

    I believe in Pink! I am 8 years Breast Cancer Survivor and I love the PINK!!! Yes, we need to cure all Cancers and Breast Cancer does get alot of publicity!! They also bring in a lot of money for research and mammograms for women who can't afford them. So many lives could be saved with early detection...Breast Cancer awareness is very important!!!

    November 2, 2012 at 16:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. 3x Survivor

    The even bigger question is why does the Federal Government annually allocate approixmately $620 million dollars for breast cancer research – which is the #3 killier cancer....vs.....only $270 million for the #2 killer cancer in the United States and the rest of the world? This is federally allocated money and does not even take into consideration the private and corporate sponsorship. But as one poster alluded to...rectal cancer isn't sexy...and even though it ranks #2 AND indiscriminately kills men and women in Equal numbers, it will never get the recognition it deserves because of its anatomical location...but it could be any of you out there that gets the news out there. I'm a 3x colorectal cancer survivor and have battled the disease for 8.5 years now...a lifetime in the cancer world...and I support all cancers...we're all affected...but positioning breast cancer high above the podium of all the others, especially the #2 cancer is wrong...plain and simple. In October, while most see Pink...I see RED....the message to me and my cancer is that breast cancer is more important than any other type of cancer...and it's simply not the case.

    November 7, 2012 at 11:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Katya

    Hi I am Katya…I am here to share an amazing new place curelauncher.com where help for breast cancer is really available. You can reach out to medical research doctors working hard to find a cure for cancer and look at clinical trials available in your area where medical treatment is available right now at NO financial cost to you. Please take a look at an article recently released:

    http://news.yahoo.com/breast-cancer-treatments-curelauncher-com-developed-save-lives-081055657.html

    Thank you and let's fight cancer together!

    November 10, 2012 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Paul

    Cancer rates are exploding all around us. Some pediatric cancers are up over 10,000%. WHY??? Simple supplementation woth 200ug of Selenium has been proven to PREVENT breast cancer in over 85% of cases. Why is there no race for the PREVENTION?

    December 26, 2012 at 12:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Laura

    Special thanks go to God almighty for using dr. okorom in curing my Cancer disease, I was having a Breast cancer and doctor told me that I have two years to live, that news brought sadness into my life, I was depressed, don’t know what to do. One faithful day I saw a testimony on how a spell caster cured a lady, who is called Rachael Mark, due to her testimony the man is a great man, quickly I copied his email, then I contacted him and he asked me not to bother myself that all my problems are over. I was happy to hear such words, he told me to buy some items, though I couldn’t find the items myself he asked me to send down the money to buy the items for me, faithfully I sent him the money he bought the items and prepared a cure for me. He told me that he is going to send the cure through courier delivery service, I paid to the courier delivery service, then, I got the cure, he instructed me on how I will take the cure. I took the cure and I was freed from the cancer, I went for scanning, the cancer was no longer there. I am very grateful for what he did for me. If you have any disease you can contact him via email on dr.okoromspellhome@live.com,

    October 30, 2013 at 04:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. michellet

    My name is Harry Diaz Michelle and i am from Canada, My husband had suffered so much helping cure my disease we went bankrupt of this. And my husband had searched everywhere for help until one day my husband was sitting close to a pool not far from my house then he meant a black-man who noticed he was so sad and the man came to him ask what his problem were and my husband told him everything that is happening to me and the man laughed at my husband, my husband said he was angry and he thought he was been laughed at because his wife had cancer but unfortunately the man laughed because the sickness sound like it was just a slight headache. He told my husband that this problem is easy he gave my husband and email and told him to contact the Dr. Iroko with the email herbalbestsolution23@hotmail.com that this man can help cure any type of cancer with herb. We contacted this man and he sent his herbal medicine and perhaps i took it for 1week twice a day and i was completely healed from cancer of the eye. I am sorry if this is too much if only i can write more and more cause it was like God had our prayers and send someone to us who direct us to our savior Dr. Iroko. So i come to you today cause that same God has also used me to post this testimonies so that you that is also sick from this disease can also be free forever.

    November 15, 2013 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply

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