The Corruption of Breast Cancer Awareness Month


October, at the surface, is a month generally characterized by pumpkin spice lattes and crisp autumn mornings paired with the annual “spooky season” hustle and bustle. 

A month presumably anchored around the excitement and tradition regarding Halloween, a holiday eagerly anticipated by the snotty nosed kids of America.

Except, contrary to popular belief, aside from all the festivities, the month of October has a far more deliberate intention that what meets the eye. 

Instituted in early 1985, October was deemed National Breast Cancer Awareness month; an entire 31 days dedicated to the dissemination of awareness, fighting for a cure and the mass sales of tiny pink ribbons plastered on near every item all the way from cereal boxes to chemicals. 

People all across the nation banding together for a common cause: charities, foundations and multibillion dollar corporations alike all pitching in to defeat the silent killer in any that they can. 

But are they really doing enough?

Are all of their efforts coming from a profound place of compassion, or are their presumably beneficent actions merely masterfully disguised attempts to boost the already booming growing profits of corporate America. 

Pinkwashing is a term coined by Breast Cancer Action to express the hypocrisy reflected by corporate giants in the public manipulation and false portrayal of their efforts in spreading breast cancer awareness while at the same time, mass producing toxins and chemicals that have been directly linked to various factors increasing cancer risks and additionally posing multiple other health obstacles as well.

According to Think Before You Pink, a well known company by the name of 3M is a repeat offender of pinkwashing, producing and using what are referred to as PFAs, global pollutants unable to be broken down that exhibit treacherous detriments to the health of all living organisms, and smacking a pink ribbon on products that contain them. 

In doing so, 3M is highlighting the inherent artificiality of its so called support by not only failing to provide true aid in the ever dragging battle against breast cancer, but even going as far as to shamelessly contribute to its causes, all in the shallow name of profit. 

While pinkwashing continues to wreck the American market system and paint a poor picture of the necessity of true breast cancer advocacy, another less expected factor enters the realm of false advertising and poor financial distribution: the almighty Breast Cancer Awareness walks.

Most commonly associated with power charity Susan G. Komen, annual breast cancer walks, extravagantly decorated with hoards of pink balloons and streamers, actually don’t raise as much money for finding a cure as one would think. 

On the official Susan G. Komen website, it explicitly states in bold blue font that only a mere 25% of walk funds actually go to finding a cure; a minimal amount when placed in scale with their supposed campaign of “Race for a Cure”, insinuating that raised money would quite literally go towards fueling research for.. well, a cure. 

Problematically, due to the private rights of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, full profit reports of funds raised in high scale events such as community organized walks and benefits are not required to be released outside of the company, often allowing an implied excuse to withhold or abuse charity funds. An interview conducted on NPR states that slightly over 50% of the money raised by Susan G. Komen goes unaccounted for after charity events conclude. It is publicly assumed that the remaining 50% of funds goes toward fulfilling the cycle of another costly benefit, but there is no way to be sure that the money raised is being used with the right intent and that companies are doing anything and everything that they can to attempt to minimize breast cancer and its effects.

The unpredicted corruption and underperformance of nationally recognized corporations and foundations inhibits genuine efforts for the betterment of breast cancer research and conversation, establishing a blockade in progress and building a global dilemma. 

Eradicating the industrious sense of corruption in the means of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and instead instating a sense of sincerity in its place is vital to taking a step down the right path to change and saving lives. 

After all, thrusting a pink ribbon on a soda bottle can only do so much.