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Enough with the Pink

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Elizabeth Gordon     Permalink
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Pink Ribbon
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br />Pink Ribbon by Multi-license with GFDL and Creative Commons CC-BY-SA-2.5 and older versions (2.0 and 1.0)

It's November and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is over. Finally.

The pink in October was everywhere. Pink rubber bracelets, pink ribbons at checkout lines, "Save the Boobies" bumper stickers, "Save the Ta-tas" t-shirts, and pink every-freakin'-thing all over the NFL.

And what is all of this "awareness" getting us, really? According to the National Breast Cancer Coalition, breast self-exams do not save lives or detect breast cancer at an earlier stage. And despite the legions who earnestly Race for the Cure every year, the Susan G. Komen Foundation hasn't "cured" anything yet -- not surprising since it, like the American Cancer Society, spends most of the millions it rakes in on educating the public (that's what those pink ribbons are supposed to do) rather than curing the sick.

What do I have against breast cancer victims? Nothing; I'm one of them. I was diagnosed earlier this year, have undergone one surgery, and am scheduled for a second.

My surgeons tell me, in shocked and oddly gossipy tones,  that breast cancer has reached epidemic proportions. Every week, they see more and more women with the diagnosis, and the women are getting younger and younger. Pink isn't saving those women's lives. Surgeons are, and radiation, and chemo. Though it ain't pretty

But all this is missing the bigger picture. The best "cure" for breast cancer is prevention. And that's where things get messy. Because curing means looking at big, systemic problems -- like the amount of toxicity in the environment. Consider chemicals alone. Since their proliferation following World War II, the human body has become a toxic dump for hazardous compounds. (The average person's blood today is befouled with 27 harmful chemicals. Children's bodies are more contaminated than their parents' and grandparents'.) And chemicals are just one problem. 

We're not going to stop breast cancer, or any cancer, unless we stop turning our planet into a giant Superfund site. But who has the will, the passion, the political courage to take on the industrialized lifestyle we've become addicted to? Who'll challenge the global corporations responsible for the rape and poisoning of our air, earth, and water? I guess it's much easier to pin a pink ribbon on something than to take actions that actually matter.


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Elizabeth Gordon is an Asian-Appalachian writer and professor who lives in Massachusetts.

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Enough with the Pink