“Fatigue Indeed” – NY Times Well Blog

Barron Lerner MD published a review of Pink Ribbon Blues in The New York Times yesterday with the title “Pink Ribbon Fatigue.”

The title captured the reality that many of us warily and wearily march through Pinktober as we try to discern whether all of this pink is doing any good. Lerner rightly points out that breast cancer events do have the potential to create “emotional uplift” and a “sense of community” for survivors, and that “the pink ribbon has been a spectacular success in terms of bringing recognition and funding to the breast cancer cause.” Yet, there are many individuals, like me, who are impatient about the lack of progress toward the eradication and prevention of the disease and who are concerned about the exploitation of breast cancer for commercial and ideological purposes.

The article situates the current anguish among growing numbers of breast cancer advocates and others within the history of breast cancer activism, revealing that the hard won successes of early activists involved much more than ribbons. In fact, much of breast cancer advocacy has had implications beyond the disease itself.

The National Breast Cancer Coalition’s call to eradicate breast cancer by 2020 falls within a broad agenda that prioritizes consumer involvement in research, environmental links to cancer, prescription drug coverage, genetic nondiscrimination in insurance, evidence-based medicine, the Patients’ Bill of Rights, and the importance of educating the public about how to evaluate scientific and medical research.

Likewise, Rose Kushner, who “took on not only the radical mastectomy but also the practice in which doctors decided whether or not to remove cancerous breasts while women were under anesthesia,” was committed to uniting the goals of breast cancer advocacy with the broader women’s health movement. After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974 and researching her own disease, she became dedicated to the critical analysis of health issues, the rights of patients to access information and make choices, and the role of the medical consumer in shaping public policy. To further these goals, Kushner helped to establish the National Women’s Health Network.

Breast Cancer Action’s concerns about industries that promote the pink ribbon for publicity but then contaminate the environment with carcinogenic byproducts or sell products that actually contribute to cancer, speaks to broader issues about corporate responsibility, environmental sustainability, and public health.

The problem with pink ribbon culture is that it has become myopically focused on sustaining itself. Not only will this narrow view fail to eradicate breast cancer, it will fail the public trust and the public’s health. Dr. Lerner got at the crux of the matter: In the midst of all the pink, we need to “examine the facts anew.” This is what Pink Ribbon Blues is meant to do.

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1 comment to “Fatigue Indeed” – NY Times Well Blog

  • Ah! Thank you for continually examining this issue. I think your point about pink ribbon culture being focused on self-sustaining is a great one.

To speak her truth, she needed to give her words and identity away, to a trusted poet and friend @stevedavenport breastcancerconsortium.net/ov…

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* GAYLE IN THE MEDIA *

"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns BMJ

Breast Cancer to Rise 50 Percent by 2030? Hey, Not So Fast! Health News Review

Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause iafrica.com

How to Make the Biggest Impact With Your Breast Cancer Donations Money

The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Racked

NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

3 Questions We Need to Answer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Chronicle of Philanthropy

The problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Women's Health Magazine

Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer The Nib

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Time to Debunk the Mammography Myth CNN

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Why Jolie's Test Costs So Much CNN

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception BlogTalkRadio

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed Philly Inquirer

Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science Reuters

The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion? Salon.com

Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood. In Deep with Angie Coiro

Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health? America’s Radio News Network

Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
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Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases? Slate

Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

Get Your Pink Off Ottawa Citizen

Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today

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