As we move into what many who have been through breast cancer would call the dreaded sea of pink, also known as "breast cancer awareness month," or "pink-tober," it is important to acknowledge that we are all well aware. While the focus of these awareness campaigns was once crucially important, it is now outdated. What we need to do is raise awareness of the reality of metastatic breast cancer, which occurs when the cancer leaves the breast and spreads throughout the body. This is the ONLY type of breast cancer that claims lives- approximately 114 lives per day in the US alone.
It is important to educate yourself and those in your circles about metastatic breast cancer (MBC) and the huge funding disparity when it comes to research. With all the emphasis that there has been in recent years about "early detection saving lives," it is important to note that while early detection is important, despite all the funding and attention that has gone into research for early stage breast cancer and prevention, a whopping 30% of all early stage breast cancer survivors STILL go on to become metastatic. That number has not budged, shifted, or lessened, despite all the research, since the onset of these campaigns. If it were solely a matter of early detection, the number of breast cancer-related deaths should have dropped considerably.
It's time for us to think long and hard before buying into all the pink options available everywhere from grocery items to clothing outlets, to office supplies, and everything in between. The bottom line is that this vast array of pinkness, under the guise of helping cure breast cancer, actually does little to make a difference. Much of the money from these sales goes toward lining the pockets of companies marketing “feel good” purchases, preying upon the conscience of those who wish to make a difference. However, most people have not taken the time to research or ask companies where the money from these pink purchases actually goes. This includes some large and well-known corporations, unfortunately. Not every pink ribbon purchase makes its way to breast cancer organizations, and those that do still have in many cases an emphasis on nebulous “awareness” crusades and disproportionate administrative costs.
It is a shameful fact that only 2-7% of all funding marked for researching breast cancer goes toward researching MBC. It's time we start to pressure companies to flip the funding to focus almost exclusively on finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer, making symptoms more manageable and extending quality and quantity of life so that it could one day become a chronic instead of a deadly disease.
Instead of buying into the pink marketing ploys that are virtually everywhere this time of year (and beyond), please consider donating to organizations like METAvivor Research and Support and Stand Up For Suzanne , where 100% of all donations go toward cutting edge research, focusing on metastatic breast cancer.
Let us stand together. Educate. Empower ourselves by redirecting funding and moving the global attention toward metastatic breast cancer. Instead of waiting for large corporations to do so, let’s make our own donation dollars count. Does your company offer a corporate matching plan for non-profit donations? If unsure, ask! Do you shop on Amazon? Did you know that Amazon has a special program called Amazon Smile that donates a percentage of every purchase you make toward the non-profit organization of your choice? This is a simple way to give back to organizations like Metavivor.
If you see a pink ribbon product and it’s not clear where the funds go, ask questions! A call to the owner or manufacturer of a product will provide you with answers (you may need to speak to a manager, or make more than one phone call.) Many organizations have a cap on the amount that actually gets donated to the charity, so your pink purchase may not even be contributing toward their donation. Please comment below to let us know what you learn as you begin to follow the pink trail, discovering where funding actually goes.
What are some other ways we can magnify our impact? Not just today. Not just for the month of October. Until we start seeing results. Time is of the essence. Because those living with MBC and those of us who love them deserve a cure.
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