Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Consider Pink Ribbon Donations Carefully

This article was written by Pam Stephan, courtesy of
September is quickly becoming the new October.  Instead of waiting till October, the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to schedule events and sell pinked-out merchandise, it starts showing up 30 days early.  Right alongside the pre-promotional packages of Halloween candy, the pink-a-thon of perky goodies and offers and specials show up everywhere.  It reminds me so much of how many seasonal items are marketed to us earlier every year - and how much breast cancer has become a marketing and media cause.  To put it bluntly, pink ribbons are being used to sell us stuff - even if those sales don't rack up any benefit to patients, researchers, and survivors.  Turn It Pink - Sell It Sooner - that seems to be mantra from Madison Avenue.
My local grocery store has already started turning pink, and fund-raising events are filling the news and crowding my mailbox.  I don't begrudge this - after all, as a former breast cancerpatient, I have probably benefited from some of these efforts, and I am always thinking about breast cancer anyway.  But I am careful about where my money and my time is spent.  While reading Gayle Sulik's book, Pink Ribbon Blues, I wonder if I am being careful enough!  Sulik spent years in research, looking beyond the pink ribbons at where the money goes, and what percent of really benefits patients. Get the book and read it - read it slowly - and consider what she shows you: we still don't have an effective cure or prevention, despite all the pink-a-palooza that goes on.
Before you agree to make a contribution this year, or purchase a pink bag of potato chips, buy apink bracelet, or sign up for any fund-raising event, stop and do your homework.  Ask questions about the item or organization and make sure that a reasonable donation is actually going to fund the cause.  If you're giving to a pink ribbon charity, research it first.  When you see that bracelet, bookmark, bag, or bikini, read the labels carefully - does it really generate a donation?  If it doesn't, put it back please!  Make sure you understand where your pink ribbon donations are going - and who they will help.  Don't be taken in by breast cancer frauds - no matter how appealing they may be.  Pinkcarefully, and think first!

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