October is a complicated month for me. On the one hand, Halloween! …which, I have to admit was a lot more fun when I was able to be involved somehow. Kids in our neighborhood go to the mall or their church for candy, and I hate the large crowds of strangers that most Halloween parties involve. I do love the historical aspect of the holiday, as a way to reconnect with ancestors and beloved dead. As my list of beloved dead creeps longer, this holiday carries deeper meaning for me, but that is still a fairly personal affair and not very social.
The other well known aspect to October is The Pink Invasion, also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons freaking everywhere. I even see macho men get in on the action: certain NFL teams are using pink tail-towels and logos.
And it pisses me off for SO many reasons. For one thing, did you know that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month? No? Probably because no one you know died from it like my mother did. Do you know what color ribbon to wear for, say, stomach cancer? Leukemia? Lung cancer? Or what month to wear it? There are so many KINDS of cancer, and yet the only one I see year after year is The Pink.
And what about the fact that breast cancer can be caught so early? Seriously, the only kind of cancer that I’ve heard of having less fatalities per diagnosis is skin cancer. That is not to say that getting a mastectomy isn’t devastating, but dammit, you can still live a long and fulfilling life with only one boob. Or no boobs! What about the cancers that are only ever discovered in stages 3 or 4, because there is no well-known exam? What month do you see their ribbons on every box of cereal?
So why is The Pink so invasive? Is it just because it’s about boobies? *sigh* That probably has a lot to do with it. It’s also because the American Breast Cancer Foundation has a lot of money to throw into advertising, because everybody keeps buying these damn ribbons. By the way, they probably have lots of money to throw into advertising and fundraising, since they were rated one of America’s Top 10 Worst Charities last year. Susan G. Komen is slightly better, but still collects quite a bit of money that pays for their administration and fundraising efforts.
For years I stood firmly against The Pink, not so much because I thought breast cancer didn’t suck (some of my own family members have had mastectomies), but because it feels like such a farce. The Pink has become a sign of a wasted gesture: people get excited about wearing the ribbons or colors, and they parade them around to show they have done a Good Deed, but have no idea where their money is going or what they have actually funded. People are dying, but the money that could help them is going instead to line the pockets of ad executives and the chairmen of these “charities.” That is not to say that I never give money to charity: I do. I just make damn sure I know where my money goes.
And then, this August, I took an action that tore me apart. I signed up with a company that sells pink purses and jewelry every October, and I am expected to support this. I have to admit, their Hope Initiative was originally one of the reasons it took me so long to sign up. Another pink and empty gesture, right?
Perhaps they heard me coming, but in my first month, I found out that shortly before, there was a big, internal announcement that Miche’s Hope Initiative would be focusing their charity donations on the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. Never heard of it, right? Me neither. Turns out, the administrative costs are funded by a philanthropist. When you donate to Huntsman, that money goes to research, and only research. Now this I can get behind.
And since the pink purses are the big, annual push for raising money for Huntsman and the cancer research (although they do research for more than just breast cancer), here I am, wearing my little, pink purse for the month and hoping that regardless of whether you choose Pink or not, that you choose something you believe in, research the best way to give, and give of yourself.
Oh, and you know, if you’d like a pink purse too– or something else to help support Huntsman, you can go to my page, scroll down, and select HOPE on the left-side menu. We have some pretty cool stuff.