First I want to share a few pictures of the Texas sky I took recently. I do love the many cloud formations that I can see early in the morning and at sunset. There is something so awe-inspiring about the splendid colors splashed across the backdrop of blue.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we are seeing pink ribbons everywhere. I was curious as to how the pink ribbon came to be, so I did a little research and discovered that a California woman, Charlotte Haley, who died in 2014, started it all. In the early nineties she was concerned about the rising number of women with breast cancer diagnosis in her community and in her family. Wanting to draw attention to the problem, she came up with the idea to make peach colored ribbons and attach them to post cards and send them out or give them away. On the postcard she wrote, “The National Cancer Institute’s annual budget is $1.8 billion. Only 5% goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.”
Her outrage about the lack of a commitment to cancer prevention by the government, touched the hearts of many people, and her campaign soon started to get media attention. That led to an interest by Self magazine and Estee Lauder to use the peach ribbon as a promotional tool during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Charlotte 0bjected to the commercial use of her color, so the magazine and cosmetic company looked for a way around obtaining her permission. Their lawyers said that they could still use the ribbon but they would have to use a different color, so they chose pink .
Since then, pink ribbon marketing has become big business for corporations, and according to Karuna Jaggar, the executive director of Breast Cancer Action, not enough of the money earned goes toward research or prevention.The pink ribbon is completely unregulated so any company can put the ribbon on any product and consumers thanks that the purchase is generating money for breast cancer organizations but they may not be.
In a recent article in The Dallas Morning News, Karuna wrote about the Think Before You Pink campaign launched by the Breast Cancer Action organization in 2002. The article is one that I used for research, and I was very surprised by some of the facts she pointed out, especially where the money does not go. She offers a few questions to ask before you go pink:
1. Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? If so, how much? If you can’t tell how much money from your purchase will go to support breast cancer programs, consider giving directly to the charity of your choice instead.
2. Which organization will get the money? What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs help turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic? Before donating, check the recipient organization’s website to make sure that its mission and activities are in line with your personal values. If you can’t tell, or you don’t know what the organization does, reconsider your purchase.
3. Is there a cap on the amount the company will donate? Has this maximum donation already been met? Can you tell?
4. Does this purchase put you or someone you love at risk for exposure to toxins linked to breast cancer? What is the company doing to ensure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?
Good questions, and Karuna suggests if the answers don’t satisfy you, consider donating directly to an organization that is working in the trenches to fight the disease. We have to move beyond awareness, since we have plenty of that, to prevention and a cure.
So today, I salute Charlotte Haley and Karuna Jaggar as today’s Strong Women. Thank you for all you have done in the fight against this deadly disease that claims 40,000 women a year.
Do you donate to a particular organization? Please share links in the comments. I support the Susan G. Komen foundation.