Why Pink?

Published October 17, 2011 by Deb Ragosta

Since the debut of this site on National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day (October 13th), several friends who know me and my opinion about all things pink, have asked me why I chose pink for the background color of the site.  After all, I’ve been extremely outspoken against the ever-increasing transition of October from the month when fall settles in, the trees morph into the gorgeous reds, oranges and yellows of the season to “Pinktober” – the corporate dream and constant reminder to those of us with metastatic breast cancer that in spite the good intentions of the masses who participate in walks, runs, bake sales, swims, etc., the “pink” message still does little to help us.  By the end of the month, I HATE pink.  In fact, I pretty much hate pink, period.  True, during the 19 years following my stage 1 diagnosis, I was on the awareness band-wagon.   I loved pink and loved the “feel-good” aura that surrounded the events in which I participated.  I especially loved that as a survivor, I usually received a special shirt or hat and was paraded around so the crowd could applaud us (as if we did something extra special to make us survivors!)  I was pinkwashed and happy to be part of the early detection/awareness team!

Now back to my original question – Why Pink?  Believe me, it’s certainly not that I have developed the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality, but I am smart enough to realize that to get any notice, whatsoever for any cause involving breast cancer, the message has to incorporate the color pink.  It’s almost as if to be a legitimate voice for anything involving breast cancer, there must be pink involved, as that somehow legitimizes the message.  Pink has become a huge part of the “branding” of breast cancer regardless of the message that comes with that branding (remember last year’s Komen/Kentucky Fried Chicken debacle?)    Of course, I want my message to be heard, but unfortunately, as hard as it is to get the message out about the reality of metastatic breast cancer, trying to share that message without the obligatory pink image (especially the ribbon) is almost impossible.

There are many breast cancer blogs and pages, and most of them include some shade of pink.  It’s not because we’ve bought into the whole Pinktober mentality, it’s just that pink has become so associated with breast cancer, it’s the attention –grabber we need to get readers to want to stop and hear what we have to say.

If you have any doubt that we are at a place where any message aimed to educate the public needs to be “pinked,” check out the following article by Natasha Singer that was recently published in The New York Times.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/business/in-the-breast-cancer-fight-the-pinking-of-america.html?_r=3&pagewanted=all

For me, the problem lies not in the color pink, but in the false sense of security we have wrapped around ourselves because hidden behind all the smiling faces and corporate images are those who live with the reality of metastatic breast cancer.

Until next time,

Don’t Stop Believing…

Deb

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4 comments on “Why Pink?

  • I think you should believe in your message. If you are going to talk the talk you need to walk the walk. Komen believes it needs to pink everything to raise funds and you are now saying that you need the pink to get attention for your blog.

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  • I do believe in my message, When I was first diagnosed in 1990, I was 35 and there was no such thing as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am the first to credit Komen with changing that. My point is that pink is so associated with breast cancer, it is hard to get a message out without it. If I thought it would help find a cure for metastatic breast cancer, I would dress in pink, head-to-toe every day of the year! I do walk the walk – every day, one day at a time because without a cure, chances are pretty good that I will die from breast cancer. That is my reality. That is the reality for the 40,000 who will die in this country this year and probably every year until there is a cure.

    With hope for the cure,
    Deb

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  • Good explanation but I still think you do not have to use pink. You did say that in a later blog “October is the cruelest month for us because you cannot get away from pink.” I think it is the quality of your message and your very good writing that will bring readers to your blog.

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    • Thank you for your feedback, I think part of it for me is that for 20 years at stage 1, it was pink, pink and more pink! I didn’t realize the reality of all that pink until I crossed the bridged to stage IV in 2009. I guess it’s a hard habit to break, but I am working on it!

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