Surrender the pink

HVParent editor urges readers to think before you pink

hudson valley new york breast cancer support and awareness
Here in the U.S., it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Hard to miss the parade of pink products in recognition of that if you tried.

I was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer when I was just 37 years old. I've lost my mother, an aunt and too many friends to actually count on all my fingers and toes to this disease, so I'd say I'm pretty aware of breast cancer - as are all the others affected and effected by it.

I'm also aware that almost 276,480 American women and just over 2,620 men in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 - the last year for which the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has statistics.

In that year, almost 42,170 women and (almost 520 men) died from it. That's a lot of families of mothers, sisters, wives, fathers, brothers, husbands, co-workers and neighbors that are probably also pretty aware. Perhaps that is why my take on the pink ribbon is a bit...askew.

READ MORE: Hudson Valley mother tackles breast cancer head on

Each year about this time, I resolve myself to the idea that the products on my grocery store shelves will be bathed in pink ribbons (which is the actual copyrighted symbol of the awareness aspect of the disease).

But eventually the month ends and the pink-themed vacuum cleaners, soup cans, cookie cutters and water bottles disappear. The idea, it seems, is that people should only be aware of breast cancer for 31 days and not a second longer.

The reality is this: There is absolutely no cure for breast cancer. Some people have treatment and find themselves right back in the breast cancer battle again not long after. No one knows why some breast cancers are "one and done" and others advance, even after treatment. Only research can help determine that, but that research needs funding.

READ MORE: Do you have any of these risk factors for breast cancer?

If you're inclined to help the cause, donate to organizations like local Miles of Hope (read more about them and their amazing co-founder, Cathy Varunok here) and other agencies helping those in treatment or that actually fund research for cures.

And when you do toss a pink product into your shopping cart, take a moment to read the label and find out where the money is going (to treatment? awareness? research?), how much of it is being donated (is it a paltry penny for each $4 you spend or is it capped at $10,000?) or even if it's being donated at all (you'd be surprised at how many pink ribbon products mention nothing about where all the money collected from each purchase goes). If we don't, my fear is that the pink parade will only get worse while we are still wading through the pink stuff and hoping for a cure.

Breast cancer receives a great deal of funding - and I'm most grateful for that - but none of that means much if those funds don't actually assist those with it or help make this disease go the way of the dinosaur and cure this monster already.

Please think before you pink.

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Felicia Hodges is a writer living in the Hudson Valley.