I was watching a football game last night and while everyone else was talking about the plays and tackles, I was taking stock of how the “think pink” campaign for breast cancer awareness had even infiltrated the NFL. Players wore pink cleats and socks, coaches wore pink caps, and the referees blew pink whistles. The infusion of pink at this time of year reminded me of an article I had just read in USA Today by Liz Szabo (October 13, 2012). She pointed out that although the shelves are packed with pink, many of these products contribute little to nothing toward breast cancer research or patient services. Good point. She went on to recommend more meaningful ways to support people with breast cancer (and any other type of cancer), which include getting a flu shot (to protect patients from getting the flu), donating money directly to reputable organizations, donating blood, registering to be a bone marrow donor, joining a cancer prevention research study, lending a hand (e.g. housework, yard work, transportation), and keeping people with cancer in mind as they undergo treatment.
While the “think pink” campaign has been instrumental in raising awareness of breast cancer, I have to agree in questioning exactly how a product or organization is supporting breast cancer research or patient care. I’ve started to look at products with pink ribbon labels to determine if and how product proceeds (or the company selling the product) plans to support breast cancer research and care efforts. Often, it’s difficult to tell and one needs to visit the website of the manufacturer to obtain this information. Raising awareness via the “think pink” is not a bad thing, but just as USA Today’s Szabo wrote, wouldn’t it be nice if all cancers were viewed in same light, and even nicer if people reached out directly to those undergoing cancer treatment by offering a helping hand?