Buying Pink Hope

I just got back from buying groceries and like every other retailer during the month of October, the grocery store is making me aware of breast cancer by selling all things pink. Unfortunately, I don’t need a pink gimic to make me aware of breast cancer—I have a sister currently fighting metastatic breast cancer. Thinking about her over the last 10 years I have bought so much pink stuff my pink drawer runneth over. What I’m more aware of than breast cancer is how much we all spend on walks, runs and pink trinkets—and yet there is still no cure.

I’m aware that October is pink Christmas for retailers. I’m aware there is no breakthrough in breast cancer research. I’m aware there is no cure in sight. I’m aware there is still only hope after all these years. I’m aware that all I can do is hope that a cure comes in time for her.

I’m aware retailers make tons of money on pink stuff. Oh sure, they contribute “a portion of the sales to breast cancer research” or some well-marketed cancer foundation. What is one penny out of every dollar going to do? I could buy the whole pink end cap at the grocery store and only $150 would make its way toward a cure for breast cancer. And when the $150 gets where it’s going, how much of that is wasted, spent on administration, marketing, and finally research?

How much of the money donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, the Susan Love Research Foundation and the American Cancer Society actually goes toward finding a cure. I feel like I’ve bought enough pink stuff over the years to single handedly cure breast cancer—or at the very minimum fund a breakthrough. I’ve bought pink satin, paper and rhinestone ribbons, pens, notepads, socks, and tote bags. Pink ribbons are embroidered, painted and pasted on everything from soap to toilet paper—every sale promising the hope of a cure.

What should be pink are the faces of these organizations that are ripping us off in the name of a cure. Not the faces of the thousands of walkers who’ve walked millions of miles for a cure. Not the breast cancer survivors with hot flashes because they can’t take hormones. Not the eyes and noses of the families and friends that have buried women with breast cancer.

We need to hold organizations and retailers accountable for all the money they receive; for all the hope and fear that money represents. Where does the money go? Estee Lauder, Avon, Belks—we get it. We’re aware. We want a cure. We should ask them how close are we to a cure for breast cancer? How much of our money goes to research? Does your organization monitor fraud and waste? How many more of our sisters will lose their breasts, hair and life before a cure is found?

I would gladly see unemployment reach 15% if we could fire all the CAT scan, PET scan, and bone scan techs. Fire the sales people for chemo chairs, chemo bags, and bras with boobs in them. Pink ribbons would only adorn Easter dresses and baby clothes. Wearing a wig or scarf would just be a fashion statement.

As I unpack my pink grocery bags and put today’s pink stash in the pink drawer with all the rest of the pink stuff, I wonder how much more pink hope do we have to buy? And will today’s pink purchase be the one that saves her. I hope so.

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