Posts Tagged ‘Breast Cancer Fundraising’

The Big Business of Breast Cancer

December 4, 2012

October has come and gone, but the backlash of Breast Cancer Awareness month are here to stay.  The brand of Breast Cancer Awareness is a mult-million dollar a year industry.  And, doesn’t it seem like every business is cashing in on the pink band-wagon?  According to Lea Goldman of Marie Claire magazine wrote, “Some six billion a year is committed to breast cancer research and awareness campaigns.  Is it any wonder that the disease has become a gold mine for pink profiteers?”

The simple reality is that this disease is being used to make a profit.  Glamorous breast cancer?  Sounds outrageous, right?  Yet that is how this illness is portrayed in our society.  The disease is not pretty and feminine and normal.  It is horrible.  And devastatingly, for those suffering, all of the glitz and commercialization are masking some harsh realities.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and other breast cancer charities are heavily entwined with the commerce-side of the business, yet where is the focus on research, preventive measures and the truth of the disease?

The publicity, fanfare and mass marketing of merchandise have very little, if anything to do with actual breast cancer awareness.   Gayle Sulik writes, “These overwhelming events, fundraisers, and products do not give people the tools they need to face uncertain diagnoses, treatments and prognoses.  Nor will they keep anyone from going bankrupt to pay for them.  They will not help us to understand risk.  They will not keep cancer from returning, and will not save lives.”  (

As a society we are creating a fetish around women’s breasts at the expense of the bodies,   hearts and minds attached to them.  As a society, we cannot handle the seriousness around the disease.

Take this image for example.  The use of slang terms and portrayal of stylized images depicts breast cancer as glamorous.  Horrific is a more sensible term to describe the disease.  The slang detracts from the significance of the cancer and the affect on women and their bodies.  As a consequence to all of this nonsense, it has suppressed discussion of real cancer, rendering the sufferers those of whom all this is supposed to be fore – invisible.

The rubber bracelets and t-shirts and bumper stickers (need I go on?) are part of a new trend: sexy breast cancer.  These campaigns are trivializing the disease and it needs to be questioned how the funds raised are being spent.

            Companies selling products that contribute to obesity, a risk factor for cancer, are cashing in on the pink craze.  Corporate sponsorships, branding partnerships and a great number of nonprofits oriented to breast cancer contribute little or nothing to research, creating a superficial notion of “awareness.”                          

            Products like KFC and soda manufacturers are selling pink versions of things that have been associated with INCREASED INCIDENCE OF BREAST CANCER.  It’s insane.  In actuality, by partaking in these events and purchasing the pink goodies, it is perpetuating the Big Business of cancer, which is a crying shame.

I highly recommend checking out the book, Pink Ribbon Blues, by Gayle Sulik, and this video of  Ms. Sulik speaking at Siena College:



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