04 October 2010

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes...

While some may say it's ridiculous to hate on a colour, I happen to think it's perfectly justified.  If one can have a favourite colour, then they most certainly are entitled to have a least favourite colour.  Mine would be pink.  Not all shades of pink, but about 99.9% of them, and just when I think I've come to terms with the colour, it's October.

Pink is the quintessential female color,” says Margaret Welch, director of the Color Association of the United States. “The profile on pink is playful, life-affirming. We have studies as to its calming effect, its quieting effect, its lessening of stress. [Pastel pink] is a shade known to be health-giving; that’s why we have expressions like ‘in the pink.’ You can’t say a bad thing about it.” Pink is, in other words, everything cancer notably is not.

October is when you can walk into a store, and find entire displays of items that the colour pink threw up on.  It's when you spend three times as much for something because of the packaging and the novelty of the colour, and you don't feel as offended as you would at any other time of the year, because you really believe that you are helping to make a difference by purchasing the $5 Pink Sharpie instead of the $2 Black Sharpie.

I'm not saying they slap the colour pink on anything and expect us to purchase it in droves, but...

If a colour had curative powers, wouldn't every one who was diagnosed with breast cancer be cancer-free if they wore a pink ribbon?

If the Foundations (aka - big business) promising to donate a dollar for every (insert product here) sold really did donate that dollar, and didn't spend it all on advertising to make us think that they were doing so, wouldn't there be more than enough money to pay for the cure? (We all know the cure is out there, it's just that the world is on money, and there is more money in keeping people alive and pumping them full of cancer-fighting drugs than there is in saying, "Here you go. Take this pill and it's gone forever.")

Are we, as a society, more accepting of breast cancer as the woman's charity/disease du jour because our breasts are so strongly linked with our image of "woman" and of "beauty", that the thought of losing something that so clearly defines us as women has us all running in the nearest Relay for Life or Run for the Cure.  Sure, heart disease and strokes are the leading cause of death among Canadian women annually, but for some reason, no one wants to think of a woman just dropping dead because her heart stopped working.  Apparently, we'd rather think of them as losing their breasts and suffering as the disease ravages their entire body. 

Despite the fact than men can, and do, get breast cancer, why is it still considered a "woman's disease"?  Is it because it's easier to emotionally manipulate the general public by making them imagine a life without their mother, daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother or best friend, you know what with the entire female gender being seen as the core of the world.  I guess those who lost their fathers, brothers, sons, uncles or best friends to breast cancer just didn't feel the loss the same way, or at least, not in a way that big business could sell it to you.

Is breast cancer the easy charity to get behind because it doesn't have certain stigma attached to it?  Despite everything we know about AIDS, do you see your store shelves turning a bright shade of red one month out of the year for AIDS Awareness?

I  watched a good friend contract breast cancer. Her place in the genetic lottery sucked - of her six other siblings, half of them developed some form of cancer in their life time and ultimately died because of it.  I saw her go through her first lumpectomy convinced that it was all gone.  I saw the look on her face when they told her it was worse than they thought, and that her only options were mastectomy and radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  I watched as she went from a vibrant 40 year old woman who would kick your ass in the blink of an eye to a shadow of her former self.  The cancer spread to her bones and to her organs.  Shortly after she turned 41, she passed away.  At her funeral I saw her eight and sixteen year old daughters filled not only with unimaginable grief and sadness, but also anger.

I saw all this and I still hate the colour pink.

My boss was diagnosed with breast cancer and is having her mastectomy on Thursday.

I still won't wear a pink ribbon.

I will, however, still listen to music by the singer, P!nk.  She is my favourite and my best.