Update: When I wrote this post in 2016, I knew my dear friend Beth Caldwell was dying. I knew she was running out of time because her metastatic breast cancer wasn’t being researched enough. On November 2, 2017, her gorgeous soul left this world. But, her light continues to shine because she left us armed with a way to continue fighting for metastatic breast cancer research.
This post is #forBeth. Always.
Pink is my favorite color.
Really, it is.
Anyone who knows me well knows that if I have a color choice, imma pick pink every day and twice on Sunday. I’m not sure if it makes me feel feminine or if it’s just way for me to show off my personality but I’m all about the pink.
In fact, in the immortal words of Shelby Eatenton Latcherie in Steel Magnolias, “Pink is mah signature color.” For the record, I did stop short of decorating the church in the two colors of “Blush” and “Bashful” for my wedding, though. I mean, sometimes there really is too much of a good thing. Also, if you don’t understand the Steel Magnolia references, we can’t be friends. Sorry, not sorry.
As much as I loves me some pink, though, I loathe that my favorite color is associated with breast cancer.
I don’t do pink anything in the name of awareness.
But it wasn’t always that way and I have my friend Beth to thank for enlightening me.
Back in 2013, I “met” Beth online in a Facebook group devoted to women writers. At the time, she was 18 months into a battle with metastatic breast cancer and she blogged about her experiences on her website, Cult of Perfect Motherhood. As I got to know Beth, I realized that breast cancer is so much more than pink socks and three day walks for awareness.
Because of Beth and her tireless advocacy for metastatic breast cancer patients, I have come to learn that a very small percentage of money donated to breast cancer awareness charities is actually earmarked for research.
And, those pink socks, water bottles, car magnets and toasters that are sold in the name of advancing the breast cancer cause? Yeah, almost nothing of those sales goes to help people like Beth live to see their daughters turn six.
Beth is dying of cancer. She doesn’t need pink socks. She need a CURE.
This weekend, while visiting a friend in Connecticut, we took a trip to a local beach to soak in the sun and breathe in the autumn air. As we arrived to the parking lot, we saw that the American Cancer Society was hosting a pink walk: a gathering where participants don ALL. THE. PINK. and walk a mile around a scenic course in the name of breast cancer awareness.
They have honored guests: survivors who have made it to remission or individuals who have worked tirelessly to raise money to make sure everyone knows that breast cancer, does, in fact, exist. Everyone walks together in solidarity while shaking fists at the air that too many women have died and everyone piles in their cars to go home, feeling smug in their knowledge that they fought cancer that day. They raised AWARENESS, people.
News Flash: WE ALL KNOW BREAST CANCER IS A THING SO KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE PINK ALREADY.
Stop buying pink anything in October or any other month of the year.
Stop supporting companies that don’t donate 100% of their fundraising to breast cancer research.
Those pink Oreos? Yeah, they’ll just go to your hips as you pat yourself on the back for blindly donating money to a charity that probably reached their donation cap months ago.
Oh yes, really, companies do that: they’ll pledge an amount to a charity and when they reach that goal, they’ll continue to collect the profits from those pink water bottles you are carrying during your awareness walk.
And I refuse to be a part of any of it, favorite color be damned.
In 2014, I finally got to meet Beth in person. My friends Jen of Real Life Parenting and Stephanie of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion, traveled together to NYC to meet Beth as she visited the East Coast. We met in the basement of Rockefeller Plaza and when she and I recognized each other across the concourse, we screamed loudly and scared New Yorkers as we ran towards each other to hug and jump and cry.
Yes, we SCARED NEW YORKERS with our joy, people. We spent the day at a bar in Soho listening to her friend’s band and it remains one of the most special days of my life.
That day is poignant and special to me because I don’t know if I’m going to get that moment again. Beth lives on the West Coast and, two years later, she’s fighting like hell but she’s fighting an uphill battle. Insurance companies that deny payments for needed clinical trials and drugs that are years away from being tested on humans BECAUSE THERE’S NOT ENOUGH MONEY FOR RESEARCH TO HAPPEN QUICKLY are the reality of her disease. Simply put, Beth may die because people have been too busy buying pink T shirts, blenders and running shoes.
And that’s bullshit, plain and simple.
So, I’m asking that you Think Before You Pink. Research the companies that you want to donate to in the name of breast cancer research. Talk with breast cancer advocates. Ask the hard questions of the charities you favor: how much is going to research? Did you reach your donation cap? How much money goes towards overhead? Does the money go to metastatic research? Be smart with your money because, if you are like me, you only have so much to donate every year. And stop throwing that money away on cutesty pink shit that is completely and utterly useless in the fight to save women from breast cancer.
Just stop already with All The Pink.
Demand research instead.
Because one day, it could be your boobs that need the life saving cure and I can guarantee you that you won’t give a flying fig about the color of your socks.
If you’d like to read Beth’s poignant post on why she hates the word “Survivor”, click HERE.
If you would like to donate to a charity THAT ACTUALLY USES THE MONEY FOR RESEARCH, click HERE.