The NYTimes ran a piece by Gina Kolata on October 30 entitled "A Growing Disenchantment with the Pinkification of October." The title is self-explanatory and covers the many ways in which those who have had breast cancer in the past or who currently have breast cancer feel very removed from the modern pink ribbon movement.
Today, the NY Times ran Nancy Brinker's response which fired the opening statement, "I am seeing red ...."
Welcome to the club, Nancy! I'm seeing red, too, but for far different reasons than yours.
Brinker's response to the NYTimes went on to say that the Pink Ribbon has come to symbolize breast cancer and she gave a brief history of the Pink Ribbon. Every time she refers to that ribbon and its color, she capitalizes it ... Pink Ribbon. She notes that the Susan G Komen Foundation took their cue for the Pink Ribbon from the Red Ribbon used in the AIDS movement. She talks of her promise to her sister to find a cure for breast cancer and her promise to "bring awareness of the need for screening, testing, treatment, research and cures, and raise billions of dollars to fund breast cancer research." She talks about races, relays and volunteers, but she leaves a few things out.
She doesn't talk about the average amount spent by the Komen Foundation for research averages less than 20% of their annual revenues. She doesn't talk about the unholy alliance between corporate sponsors and the placement of pink ribbons on products in order to increase sales. She ignores that there is no regulation of the Pink Ribbon and that anyone can slap a Pink Ribbon on any product to dupe the customer into believing they are doing something about breast cancer. She ignores the mammoth mountain that the Pink Ribbon has become and the shopping mecca the Pink Ribbon has created. She ignores the fact that billions of dollars have been made off the backs of the dying, all in the ever-to-be-honored name of "The Pink Ribbon."
She then closes her tirade with a cue from yet another movement: "Pink Ribbons matter!"
Blink. Did she really say that? REALLY? SERIOUSLY?
Pink Ribbons matter?
Which Pink Ribbon?
I am the first to admit that the Komen Foundation started out with a fine and noble goal and that many parts of that goal have been met. However, I would love for Nancy Brinker to admit that the damn pink ribbon has grown out of control. (I don't use caps to refer to the ribbon ... I only did so in the photos to illustrate the sarcasm I feel.) However, I am not the same person I was back in 1980 and I would like to think that the Komen Foundation is not the same organization that it was back then. Just yesterday, Komen announced that donations made to Komen could be directed in the area that the donor chose, including the area of metastatic breast cancer research. But then, Nancy Brinker had to go and ruin the goodwill with her nonsensical claims.
Awareness is not enough. Races are not enough. Relays are not enough. Partnerships are not enough. Volunteers are not enough.
RIBBONS ARE NOT ENOUGH!
Research, not ribbons. Research matters.