As a member of the breast cancer community, I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend over the last few years, which is a feeling of unease surrounding what should be our most celebrated time of the year: Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Being one of the most recognized awareness months certainly has its benefits. Billions of dollars have been raised in the fight against breast cancer, leading it to become one of the most largely funded diseases in the world. But with that popularity, comes an unfortunate dark side surrounding the word “awareness.” In the month of October, one would be hard-pressed to avoid coming across anything less than a sea of pink. We see ribbons and slogans affixed to coffee mugs, tote bags, and sports jerseys.
And while many of these organizations are well-meaning and donate large portions of their product’s proceeds to breast cancer research, others have capitalized on their consumers’ ill-informed purchasing-practices. By using the pink momentum, they raise prices or sell products while donating little to no money toward finding a cure. Much of this is due to the linguistic loophole of the word “awareness” which allows companies to profit without repercussion. These pink profiteers have robbed the month of its true meaning, and those who are most directly affected by breast cancer are calling for change from “awareness” to “action.”
But how do we make that change a reality? It’s unlikely that companies financially benefiting from Breast Cancer Awareness Month are going to change their ways without a significant overhaul of the system or a watchdog organization to hold them accountable. But we, as consumers, can do our due diligence when deciding where our charitable dollars go.
Where do we start?
1. Look for recipient disclosure statements.
Most large corporations will state on their websites whom their funds benefit. If you don’t see a charitable organization recipient, consider purchasing elsewhere.
2. Look for organizations that donate money to research (the most actionable cause), patient grants, or educational tools.
3. Look for low “donation caps.”
Pay particular attention to “donation caps.” Some companies may say “25% of the proceeds of this product benefit X organization up to $10,000.” Beware of low caps.
Following these simple steps will help ensure that your money is going towards worthwhile causes that will help bring us closer to a cure for breast cancer. And let’s not get discouraged!
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time for us to encourage those in our lives bravely battling this disease to continue fighting and to honor those who may no longer be with us. It is also a time to learn what we can do to educate ourselves on prevention.
Did you know that close to 50% of women discover their own breast cancer through practices like a self-breast exam? That’s why I’ve made it my mission to teach women how to “know their normal” by performing a monthly exam. Not sure where to start? You’re not alone. The Previvor Foundation can help you learn how! For a quick and easy tutorial, visit our Instagram.
About the Author: As a 24-year-old Miss America contestant, Allyn Rose made headlines across the globe with her controversial decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy after losing her mother, grandmother, and great aunt to breast cancer. Allyn’s story inspired both celebrities like Angelina Jolie and a new generation of women alike to take charge of their healthcare choices. Determined to encourage other women to know that their scars are beautiful, Allyn boldly became the first woman with a mastectomy to model for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit. She is the founder of The Previvor, a 501(c)(3) non-profit women’s health platform which serves as a resource for women undergoing mastectomy, and the creator of the #SelfExamGram, a social media movement that encourages women to perform monthly self-breast exams.