It’s the time of year when colors change, and not just on the leaves and landscapes around us. Everyone’s sporting an identifiable shade of pink these days, in an effort to build awareness and show support for cancer patients, particularly breast cancer. Let me begin by assuring you all I hate this disease as much as anyone on the planet. I don’t need a sea of pink or a month of the year to think about what cancer has taken from me. I live it every stinking day.
The cynic in me finds the pinkwashing just a tad too convenient. The family member who lost someone to cancer (but not the “right” kind) finds this month-long ode to cancer hating terribly offensive. Breast cancer is but one form of this disease, and not the worst of the lot, by far. There are hundreds of types of cancer, many different causes (chemicals, viruses, etc) and those awful cells remain (even today) unpredictable and mysterious.
If you think I’m being too hard on well-intentioned people, you need to visit the Facebook page — Pinkwashing Hall of Shame, and let me know how you feel afterward. You can chew on this little nugget to get you started — the month-long awareness comes thanks to corporations, not grass-roots efforts. It dates to 1985.
It’s no surprise that the willingly distracted, complexity intolerant public has latched onto breast cancer in such a public way. It feels like doing something, wearing that pink. And then anything that affects breasts, the sole preoccupation of our entire society, is bound to get people up in arms. I’ll choose to believe this is because this form of cancer happens to a part of the body so visible to anyone (keeping my snarky speculation to myself). It’s just a shame people don’t feel the same angst and desperation to do something (anything!) for the person who just found out she has pancreatic cancer.
Hating cancer, kicking cancer’s butt… what can be wrong about that? Nothing. Cancer is all too worthy of hate, of all our efforts (big and small) to defeat it. We just don’t need any more awareness. We want more action in terms of screening and treatment options and a whole lot less of the obscenely expensive experimental drugs, devastatingly invasive surgeries and exclusive clinical trials. More real, every day acceptance and less pink wearing months of pseudo sympathy.
The most disgusting (but not all that surprising) thing about all this expertly choreographed cancer angst is that it’s fed by foundations with fancy names, covered by media wearing sober, earnest expressions. Heartfelt pause and into sweeps we go, everybody gets to feel good. If that’s enough for you, fine. If it isn’t, get off your always online butt and do some investigating on your own. Make your own decision.
Showing support for suffering patients by wearing a particular color is fine, as far as it goes. But if you think slapping on a pink (or any color) pair of socks makes you a soldier in the fight against a diabolical disease you are a fool. Cancer isn’t going to retreat when it sees a sea of pink clad, slogan chanting, weekend warriors. If you think walking (or biking) for the “cure” means you’ve contributed; you’re very gullible indeed. You’ve contributed all right, but to supporting an organization and an infrastructure that wants to do right, so long as it doesn’t put anybody out of a job.
The cure for cancer, if it’s ever found, won’t come from some well-intentioned soul pedaling a bike. It won’t come from pink clad athletes making some obvious statements about the disease to a room full of avidly attentive journalists. It won’t come because we want so very badly to defeat this disease.
It will come from some unknown researcher in a run down laboratory, after hours or on a Sunday morning. It will come without cheers or glory, from an experiment he (or she) was assured was worthless and told to abandon. It will come because of hard, thankless, glory-free work done by a guy (or girl) who doesn’t know what month it is.
And dresses in black because color is illogical.
Dare NOT to wear pink. All month.