My husband works in research and development for medical devices. In spite of popular opinion, those involved in the medical world are not rolling in money. Yes, you have the few who are extremely wealthy, but overall? That just isn’t the case.
We live a modest life, reflective of our middle-class income. We rent our home, we drive cars that are over ten years old (One car is older than our teenage children!) and we make choices within our reach.
Multiply this by the thousands of people involved in medical research. Most of them work very long hours (My husband seldom works less than 60 hours a week.) and most of them usually have the end user (the sick patient) in mind.
While the industry as a whole is about profit, I wouldn’t say that everyone in the medical industry is about money. They are providing a much needed and necessary service, which for some, is the difference between life and death and for me, is the difference between living weeks, months or years.
So, I’m forgiving when it comes to medical products. I do think the United States needs insurance reform more than it needs health reform, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic for another day.
BUT … here is the heart of this post … I have strong complaints and extreme anger over other industries profiting off the disease that is taking my life and is threatening the lives of so many others.
I sat on this post for a few days because I’ve learned to not say something when I am so angry. However, after sitting on it, I’m going to throw it out there.
One of my major complaints about the pink ribbon movement is how it has become an excuse to slap a ribbon on a product in order to line corporate pockets, all the while playing the sympathies of the shopping public. The pink ribbon is marketed to appeal emotionally to anyone impacted by breast cancer, whether it be a patient or a friend/family member of a patient. The starter of the whole thing was a sister of a breast cancer patient who had a strong desire to see breast cancer cured … but the movement got away from that intention and it has become a sham. The good intentions of the sister doesn’t change the fact that the pink ribbon is a shopping mecca for vendors wanting to make money because people are sick.
A certain web page has been crossing my newsfeed for quite some time. I finally took the time to check it out and I am appalled at what it is doing. It calls itself a “one-of-a-kind high-end shopping and community platform that provides women at every breast cancer treatment phase with all of their lifestyle needs. Our mission is to help women facing breast cancer better their lives with style.” They don’t have a pink ribbon on their products … they boldly use the words “breast cancer” instead.
This “high-end style” claim is what makes me angry. According to their website, a newly diagnosed person “must have” (Yes, it’s a tab called “Must haves for the newly diagnosed.”) $30 pill boxes, $70 planners/calendars/journals/water bottles, $42 camisoles, and get this … a $185 linen blouse that needs to be dry cleaned! If I bought all their just diagnosed essentials, I would have to spend $427.
Seriously? These are must haves? This site links itself to a well-known breast cancer information site and it also has “guardians” to give advice to others. They showcase profiles of people with breast cancer. This is their justification. “We’re helping women and giving them voice on the internet; therefore, it’s okay to charge so much money for these things.”
In other words … they are doing the EXACT SAME THING as the pink ribbon movement, but in an even more insidious way.
NOTHING on their page talks about any donations going anywhere for anyone with breast cancer. It is 100% about making money off of those with breast cancer. By targeting a woman’s vanity with “must haves” and “essentials,” the implicit message is, “If you aren’t doing breast cancer this way, then you’re doing breast cancer wrong.” That’s the entire idea of marketing (I was a marketing major.) and no amount of denying this changes the reality.
The not-so-subtle message of this site is “Live it up! You have breast cancer! Let us help you spend your money on things you either don’t need or can get for cheaper elsewhere.” They call it “high-end” or “style.” I call it exploitation.
Surgery “essentials” include a $70 shower shirt for someone with drains … and is modeled in a shower by someone who very obviously does NOT have drains! (I’ve heard the Dollar Tree’s $1 rain poncho works just as well.)
Chemotherapy “essentials” include $21 fans. No, not electric fans, but a hand-held accordion style fan that can, again, be purchased for a dollar at a dollar store. There are $54 turbans.
But hey ... you have breast cancer! This is the time for you to absolutely pamper yourself with such expensive items. After all, you may die! Wouldn’t be so much better for you to die with a $2,068 wig on your head?
Yes, everyone has a right to make a profit. No one forces anyone to buy these goods. It’s all about choice. However, when I know of women who are challenged to pick between one cancer treatment versus another based on the cost, I am shocked and angered that there are those profiting off those same women. NO amount of justification makes up for the simple hard fact … too much money is being charged for unnecessary products being marketed as “you must have this in order to survive your breast cancer diagnosis.”
Ribbon or no ribbon, it’s the same. Stop the insanity.