Blog Contributors

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Rachel Cheetham Moro died on February 6, 2012 of metastatic breast cancer at age 41. She became a full-time blogger following a career spanning fifteen years in public accounting and tax consulting. In her main blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles, she wrote about her personal experiences as a woman living with metastatic breast cancer, her observations of the surrounding breast cancer culture, as well as other important issues relevant to the breast cancer community. Rachel also wrote a magazine-style women’s interest blog at Can-Do Women. Hailing from Australia originally, Rachel held an Australian Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, and Masters’ degrees in Business Administration and Science from an American university. She lived in coastal New Jersey with her husband and small dog. The Cancer Culture Chronicles received the 2011 J.K.  Rowling Howler MAAM Award for “smashing the myth of the pink popular culture of the breast cancer world.”

In a series of essays Rachel analyzed Komen’s audited financial reports, telling a story the public seldom hears. The Pink Ribbon Blues Blog has republished: “Komen By The Numbers;” “Komen By The Numbers: The Context of Research;” “Komen By The Numbers: Education In Focus;” and “Komen By The Numbers: 2010 And Still No Answers;” and as part of the Pink Ribbon Blues “30 Days of Awareness” Series, Factoids, Impressions, and Impressions (or, Take “Action” Against Breast Cancer: Buy Stuff & Support Our Sponsors!). Rachel’s death is a loss to the activist community, and to me personally.

Peggy Orenstein is the author, most recently, of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. Her previous books include The New York Times best-selling memoir,Waiting for Daisy; Flux: Women on Sex, Work, Kids, Love and Life in a Half-Changed World;and the best-selling SchoolGirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem and the Confidence Gap. A contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, Peggy has also written for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Vogue, Elle, Discover, More, Mother Jones, Salon, O: The Oprah Magazine, and The New Yorker, and has contributed commentaries to NPR’s All Things Considered. Her articles have been anthologized multiple times, including in The Best American Science Writing. She has been a keynote speaker at numerous colleges and conferences and has been featured on, among other programs, Nightline, Good Morning America, The Today Show, NPR’s Fresh Air and Morning Edition and CBC’s As It Happens.

Pink Ribbon Blues republishes “Memo to the ‘Hippest Town in New Jersey:’ Please Stop Painting Yourself Pink.”

Linda “Kristi” Rickman has 10 years experience in higher education in various areas of student affairs. Following her mother’s first diagnosis with breast cancer in 1996 Kristi became a pink ribbon addict. Then a second diagnosis years later led her to immerse herself further into pink ribbon culture. Kristi’s viewpoint of the pink ribbon began to shift in October 2011 after she attended a session by Dr. Gayle Sulik on “Pink Ribbon Blues.” Since the pink ribbon was so intertwined in her personal life, it was very challenging to hear about its negative consequences at first. But she continued to look into the matter and read the “fine print” behind pink ribbon campaigns. Over the past year Kristi began to see what is truly behind the pink ribbon mask, and she strives to educate others about how to make more informed decisions and avoid being “pinked” by the ribbon as she had been over the past 16 years.

Kristi Rickmann tells about her new awareness of pink campaigns in “Confessions of a Recovering Pink Addict” on Pink Ribbon Blues.

Sarah Roman is also a senior at the College of Mount of Saint Vincent. Her main focus is sociology with a minor in psychology, and she’d like to work with children as a speech pathologist. Ms. Roman came to learn about this breast cancer advertising project through the recommendation of Dr. Omar Nagi, and she enthusiastically signed on. She was surprised to learn that something as serious as cancer could be repackaged in ways that sexualize women and hide the disease. Ms. Roman has also been working with Dr. Nagi for the past two years on a project investigating the effects of media on eating disorders.

Advertising WHAT??? by Sarah Roman and co-researcher Nizarys Vargas is part of the Pink Ribbon Blues “30 Days of Awareness” series.

Linda J. Rubin is a Professor and Licensed Psychologist in the Counseling Psychology doctoral program at Texas Woman’s University. Her clinical, teaching, and research interests focus on psychological trauma, relational violence, and the psychology of women. In previous scholarly publications, she has discussed a shield of denial that human beings construct to provide psychological protection from thoughts and feelings that are too devastating to contemplate for prolonged periods of time.

In her essay “Pink Ribbon Culture as a Form of Psychological Denial” Dr. Rubin explains that while psychological self-protection is completely understandable at both the individual and cultural levels, there are moments in time when it is important, even necessary, to examine individual and cultural expectations and messages, instead of denying them. Unfortunately, pink ribbon culture may be imposing joyfulness when terror is much closer to the reality.

JSchoger2Jody Schoger is a writer and cancer advocate with more than 25 years of experience in public relations and communications in health care, science, education and the arts. Following her own diagnosis with a locally advanced breast cancer in 1998, she devoted her energy to helping other survivors. She is the author of the “Anchored Activism” column in Oncology Times, the respected blog Women With Cancer, and the creator of Breast Cancer Social Media (#BCSM), a popular tweetchat for breast cancer survivors. Her writing has been featured in Cure Magazine and blog. She has served as a grant reviewer for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, is a member of the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and serves on the American Breast Surgeons Board of Advocates.  She has spoken on survivorship at a #Med2 panel at Standford and will do so again at Life Beyond Cancer Center’s survivorship retreat and the fifth annual Digital Pharma East conference in Philadelphia. A frequent guest on SIRIUS radio’s “Doctor Radio,” she also has been quoted in USA Today and other publications.

Jody Schoger’s essay, “Left Behind,” reveals her ambivalence about the pink ribbon and the weight of the culture that surrounds it.

Bonnie Spanier received her doctorate from Harvard University in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. While teaching biology at Wheaton College in MA, she received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Lung Association. A grant from the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College about Women in American Society catalyzed her move to develop pioneering feminist analyses of the sciences. Her book on the influence of sexist beliefs on the content of biology, IM/PARTIAL SCIENCE: GENDER IDEOLOGY IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY has been praised for its significance to physicians, scientists, and feminists. As a professor, Bonnie taught women’s studies at the University at Albany, New York, creating a course on Women, Biology, and Health. Semi-retired, she currently teaches a course on Women, Health, and the Environment at Grand Valley State University in Traverse City, Michigan. Bonnie Spanier co-founded CRAAB! Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer in Albany, New York, and continues to be an activist for evidence-based medicine with a focus on women’s health. Bonnie Spanier was an advisor to Gayle Sulik during her graduate studies at the University at Albany (SUNY) and wrote the Foreword to Sulik’s book “Pink Ribbon Blues.”

Bonnie Spanier’s essay, “Changing the Conversation about Breast Cancer, One Conversation at a Time” explores how everyday discussions can raise a new kind of awareness, and new forms of social change.

Nancy Stordahl lost her mother to breast cancer in 2008. Two years later she too was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her blog Nancy’s Point tries to make sense out of these life-altering situations by sharing her personal experience, advice, and thought-provoking commentary. With precision and gentle humor, Nancy has written about treatment, survivorship, grief, loss, and some of the real concerns she has about current forms of breast cancer awareness and advocacy. Nancy Stordahl is also a featured blogger on Huffington Post.

With permission, Pink Ribbon Blues published new versions of two of Nancy Stordahl’s essays: ”Are We Really Racing for a Cure?“ posted May 12, 2011 and “Where’s the Feminism in the Awareness?” originally posted on October 17, 2011.

Nizarys Vargas is a senior at the College of Mount of Saint Vincent. Her current concentration is business administration with a minor in sociology, and Ms. Vargas plans to become a funeral director. Having worked closely with the Sisters of Charity, she is committed to helping people through some of the saddest and most difficult times in their lives. The Sisters have also been a guiding force in helping her to know what it means to be surrounded by strong, empowered, and compassionate women. Ms. Vargas started to investigate breast cancer advertising under the direction of Dr. Omar Nagi.

Advertising WHAT??? by Sarah Roman and co-researcher Nizarys Vargas is part of the Pink Ribbon Blues “30 Days of Awareness” series.

Diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2008, two of Lisa Valentine’s seven sisters have also had breast cancer. She is an active member of the Hastings, MN Breast Cancer Support Group, which created the DVD “Voices of Hope” in early 2010 for newly diagnosed women. Over 5,000 copies have been distributed (see Opting not to have reconstruction, Lisa appreciates the words of mastectomy-as-reality writers Audre Lorde and Tania Katan. With a B.A. in Social Science and a M.S. in Guidance and Counseling, she currently works as a school counselor. An avid runner, Lisa has completed ten marathons, five post-cancer. A lifelong writer and poet, her recent publishing credits include opinion essays in the Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Des Moines Register. Lisa blogs about gratitude at

Lisa Valentine has written three essays for the Pink Ribbon Blues Blog: “What Lies Beneath” examines cultural expectations about women’s breasts and her own decision about mastectomy and reconstruction; “I Didn’t Know Then What I Know Now” shares how she transitioned from being an avid Komen supporter to a new kind of breast cancer advocate; and “Paralyzed or Catalyzed” argues that acknowledging societal fear of death (especially about stage 4 cancer) and using it as a catalyst for change is another way to confront the entrenched pink ribbon culture.

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