You Can Help Combat Breast Cancer

Thousands of women every year all over the world start the most difficult battle they will ever encounter. These women will spend more time with doctors and in hospitals then most of us spend in an entire lifetime. They endure toxic substances pumped into their bodies on a regular basis in the slim hope it will save their lives. I am speaking of the millions of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed of all cancers in women. There has been much money contributed to research for the cure, but there remain thousands of women who will receive this devastating diagnosis. This disease not only affects the patient herself but her family and friends who will suffer along with her.

A lot of us know someone with breast cancer and know first hand how much pain it causes everyone involved. It is unbelievably difficult to stand by and watch a loved one in so much pain and be helpless to offer any relief. The hopelessness one feels is indescribable as they watch their loved one go through the physical and mental stress inherent in patients with breast cancer.

Most women are naturally fixers. It’s part of their womanly makeup. So, many of us find it difficult to stand back and do nothing when someone we care for is hurting. Unfortunately, we can’t wave our magic wands and make it all better. Since most of us are average people and not scientists or researchers, we’ll never find the cure for cancer. But, we can support those who are searching for answers.

All of us have the ability to make a difference in the lives of women suffering from breast cancer. Donating to cancer research positively impacts efforts to create better drugs and possible cures. With enough funding, leading scientist across the country can devote their time and resources to the cause. Donating is easy and varying. You can support cancer research through monetary donations or by donating your time and talents to the more administrative aspects of fundraising. Of course, some people join Susan G. Koman’s Race for the Cure, others simply send in pink Yoplait lids.

Those who donate money for research are angels. There are other ways to qualify as an angel. Women with breast cancer rack up huge medical bills which can bankrupt their families. If you know someone with breast cancer and want to help, drop off some groceries or lasagna or homemade scones. Ask them what more they need that you can help with and start a neighborhood crusade to make a positive difference to a family on their own block.

Breast cancer affects millions of women and their families. Thankfully, due to all the money and time donated to cancer research, advances have been made in the treatment of breast cancer. Yet, there are still many women who do not survive. I have known two women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. One beat it and inspires many people by telling her story. Sadly, my other friend did not make it. She left behind a beautiful three year old daughter and an amazing husband. She was one of the most amazing women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and I support breast cancer research in honor of her. I strongly encourage others to do the same because I want to put an end to the grief. If we all team together, a permanent cure for breast cancer might be just around the corner.

Support Breast Cancer Research With Pink Products

Breast cancer mainly affects women. It is also one of the leading causes of female mortality. It forms in the tissues of the breast, either in the ducts. The pink ribbon is the internationally recognized symbol for breast cancer awareness. One of the most important things that a survivor of this disease can receive is support. Support can be from family members, friends or from other survivors. Support groups usually provide empathy, empowerment and compassion for survivors.

Companies support breast cancer awareness and research by putting pink ribbons or coloring their merchandise pink. They are then supposed to give a certain percentage of what they make in sales to support this noble cause. Companies also have days when employees dress in pink clothes or accessories in support of this cause. In addition, they make contributions which are donated to organizations that support the cause. Concerns are however arising that companies are now using the pink ribbon as a marketing gimmick. They have been accused of using the ribbons to attract sales from sympathizers of breast cancer and then failing to make donations to the relevant organizations. However, with accountability and transparency, this can become a thing of the past.

Another problem associated with the pink ribbon campaign is that, a lot of money is being spent on the campaigns themselves than is being raised for research or treatment. This means that, the campaign defeats the purpose for which it was intended. In addition, some of the companies that are being used to promote these campaigns are also raising eyebrows. For example, the cosmetic companies which use cancer causing substances in making some of their products. It appears that these companies are using these campaigns as a cover up to their business dealings.

Concerns are also being raised that the abuse of the pink ribbon campaign will result in survivors not getting the support they deserve. This is because, as companies continue profiting from the disease, little ends up being done in terms of treatment and research. Issues such as the rising cost of treatment and the plight of survivors are left unattended. In addition, people seem to have forgotten what the campaign is all about and are more focused on the things that they are able to buy. Sadly, it is now becoming apparent that the breast cancer campaign could fade into obscurity like the HIV/AIDS campaigns. These were very popular in the nineties after the AIDS pandemic rocked the world.

Does the Pink of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Make Women With Cancer Feel Worse?

October is the traditional month for Breast Cancer Awareness. You’ll see pink ribbons, pink t-shirts, pink clothing of all types worn by both women and men.

In fact, this year of 2010, the professional football teams of the National Football League have included pink in their football uniforms. Burly lineman and linebackers put pink cleats on their football shoes; quarterbacks and receivers wear pink wristbands and carry pink towels as part of their gear.

Why pink? How did the pink ribbon movement start? And most importantly, does it really help women who already have breast cancer? Or make them feel worse?

How Pink Got Into the Cancer Business
Ribbons have been used to express solidarity on the part of the wearer with the identified cause since the early to late 20th Century. Yellow ribbons are used for troops at war. Red ribbons for those with AIDS. Pink ribbons (and the color pink) express support for those who are diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

In the fall of 1991, Alexandra Penney, editor-in-chief of Self, a woman health magazine and Evelyn Lauder, of the cosmetic company Estée Lauder, got the idea to create a ribbon. The cosmetics giant distributed those ribbons stores in New York City.

Charlotte Hayley, who battled the disease, produced peach colored ribbons. She sold the ribbons to support cancer prevention. After discussing opportunities with Lauder, Hayley and their lawyers, they a “new” color, pink, was chosen, which became an international symbol for awareness.

Does Pink Really Help Women Who Have Breast Cancer?
There are loud voices of criticism about “Pink Month” and its long term effects for battling breast cancer.

Critics say that promoting pink ribbons as a symbol has not been credited with saving any lives. Others believe that the pink ribbon will fade from popular use and become only a fad. October has become a month when “pink” sales explode. Companies that sell pink merchandise and give a token donation to related charities.

Gayle Sulik, a medical sociologist wrote Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health. She found that while “pink ribbon culture” has brought the illness much attention in the United States, did not improve women’s health. Based on eight years of research, analysis and hundreds of interviews with women who had the disease, Ms. Sulik found that cancer rates rise, the cancer industry thrives, corporations profit from the disease, and those with this cancer are stigmatized by the pink ribbon.

How Does Seeing Pink Make Women with Cancer Feel about Themselves?
How does any woman feel when she has a serious illness and everything around her says, “Be Aware of Breast Cancer.” In October, 2009 after Cheryl had been diagnosed with DCIS, a Stage 0 level. That October was a difficult month. Pink was everywhere and she was very aware of cancer. She had been diagnosed with it.

Yes, early detection was very important because we had less severe symptoms to deal with. Yet, the awareness month itself did little to support her. Whenever Cheryl went shopping, pink was everywhere. She felt horrible, like she couldn’t get a break to live a normal life. Reminders were everywhere, that she was not normal – she had this cancer. She just wanted to hide.

Writing notes of support, using affirming words and spending more time together did a lot more for her spirits than pink ribbons and t-shirts did. Using the Treasuring mindset and approach helped Cheryl feel loved, appreciated and valued on the inside.

So, my questions to you, dear reader, are: What does October Breast Cancer Awareness Month mean to you? How do you treasure women with with illness? What do you write or say to them? And if you have breast cancer yourself, what would you want the important people in your life to write or say to you?