October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This month is very important to me, because I am a woman, because breast cancer is terrifying, and also because breast cancer survival rates are increasing. We must unite and donate, volunteer, and scream from whatever platforms we have to battle this monster and continue to increase survival rates.

 For more years than I can remember I purchased from Ford Cares Warriors in Pink and was thrilled to see that a high percentage of my purchase price was donated to the organizations that need. It never occurred to me that not all organizations give as generously.

Don’t get me wrong – every little bit helps – and for a small business, any donation is amazing. I am talking about the big corporations – the ones that have the money to give but hold on to it to pad the CEO’s bonus.  

I began more earnestly searching, identifying organizations that give larger percentages of your purchase dollars.  As I was researching organizations, I stumbled across some content talking about “pinkwashing”. A theory that pink ribbons and all things pink are no longer actually really helping with awareness and they may be detracting from the true mission of the month – to increase research (and funding to support it) so we can beat this monster.

Pinkwashing is harmful because we are so focused on the pink ribbon that we often give to the “pinkest ask” and not necessarily to the organization that gives the most back.

This feels like real awareness, understanding that help is needed and then understanding what helps the most.

What’s important is what I do now. It’s how I move from awareness to action. For me personally, that means donating to the organizations that will give the most – and designate it for research. I can (and will) also donate to research organizations directly or the Cancer Society. Somewhere that I can give without an intermediary.

What Else Could We Do?

I am also recently and acutely more aware of racial disparity in breast cancer outcomes. Look for a place where you can flag a donation that will directly help eliminate that disparity. It is a great way to make a tangible difference.

Look for businesses run by breast cancer survivors and support those businesses. Many of these women are dealing with the on-going impact of their breast cancer and it may last the rest of their lives.  

Talk to friends and family about pinkwashing and ensuring the maximum money possible per purchase is going directly to the organizations doing the real work to beat this disease.

I think there is a place for pink ribbons – but I also hope that part of our awareness is focused on how much money is actually given when you purchase in the name of breast cancer AND what that money is earmarked for.

We have a voice and we need to use it to spread all of the information people need to be aware of.

I am not here to preach or judge – in my awareness journey, I learned something that resonated with me and I wanted to share in case it sparks something in you.

To the women fighting, to the woman who didn’t make it, to the women who survived, to the friends and family of all these women – I send you love, and mad respect for however you handled your battle. You are all warriors. In pink or any damn color you want!!

Final words of advice – Please check yo’ self too! Breast exams are key to early detection and early detection helps increase survivial rates.