Some Notes on Pink Ribbons and the Primacy of Breast Cancer Advocacy
By Karen Roush, MS, RN, FNP-C, AJN clinical managing editor
It’s starting again. October is less than a week away and already they’re everywhere. But then again, they never really go away. Those darn pink ribbons.
Breast cancer is a terrible disease. My family has experienced its share and I know the anxious—it’s going to be fine, oh my god what will happen to my kids if I die—feeling of waiting for a path report after a lumpectomy.
But there are other terrible things that happen to women—and happen more frequently. And we don’t pay anywhere near the same attention to them. Take heart disease, for example. Heart disease is the number one killer of women. In 1999, according to the CDC, 24% of deaths in women were from heart disease, while 22% were from ALL types of cancer combined. Or consider domestic violence, experienced by one in four women during their lifetime while one in eight women will experience breast cancer.
So why is it that breast cancer garners so much of the public’s attention, and along with that, a disproportionate amount of its resources? It collects more funding than any other type of cancer. For example, lung cancer—according to a New York Times article, the National Cancer Institute spent $1,518 for each case of lung cancer in 2006 and $1,630 relative to each lung cancer death, compared to $2,525 per case of breast cancer and $13,452 per breast cancer death. Yet lung cancer is expected to kill 159,480 people in 2013, versus 39,620 deaths from breast cancer.
Breast cancer has got to be the most marketed disease ever. Every major brand has their pink-clad product, their pink ribbons and rubber bracelets. Now you can “support breast cancer awareness” with every action you take. From what you wear to what you eat, you can choose pink. You can meet all your hygiene needs while supporting breast cancer: soap, deodorant, make-up, shampoo, cologne, after-shave, manicure sets, and even teeth whiteners.
Why? I have a few ideas, shared by others. First, of course, is the financial incentive, which is worthy of a whole blog post itself. But I want to talk here of the cultural and social aspects. Read the rest of this entry ?