Friday, November 2, 2012

Pinktober 2012 and Why I Wear Pink

At the end of September, I decided to make a pledge to wear something pink every day in October.

I know, on some level, it's silly. Wearing pink won't cure cancer. It won't suddenly make everyone aware of it (though I think that at this moment in our collective history, everyone is pretty damn aware of it already) and maybe it won't inspire women to run out and get a mammogram or do a monthly self-check. At this age, we're not supposed to worry about it - they don't start doing regular mammograms on women until they're forty - but the more I read, the more I hear... it kind of makes me want to run out and get one.

That's neither here nor there, I guess. I'm not trying to cure cancer. What I am trying to do is show support and solidarity.

I've complained in the past about the vague facebook statuses (post your bra color! post where you hang your purse when you get home!) that do absolutely squat when it comes to raising awareness (how are you supposed to make someone aware of something if you don't actually mention what that thing is?) and definitely doesn't help raise money. I feel that this is different. It's different because I've seen the effect it can have, and it's different because of what I do every day when I punch the proverbial time clock.

I don't talk about my job very much because, quite frankly, I don't think I'm supposed to. But what I will say is that my job involves working with a breast cancer awareness product line and the retail selling and marketing thereof. In my bubble of spreadsheets and catalog and supplier quotes and barcodes and trade shows, it's easy to get caught up in the business aspect and forget the other side: the emotional impact our products have. Both my colleague and myself have had women stop by our booth and tear up when they see the product, the words, the pink ribbon.

A lady passed her (my coworker) a note one time on an airplane - she had seen the shirt she was wearing and it created enough of an emotional response that she wanted to say something, wanted to say thank you, for supporting the cause, for supporting women like her.

We donate to a state of the art cancer research center - the amount varies based on our sales (naturally) but I believe that they have the potential to do great things. They are one of only 40 cancer centers in the country recognized by the National Cancer Institute with the designation of "comprehensive" - which is pretty impressive. It's the only one in our state, so while it's "local" to us, it's a nationally recognized center... for all types, not just breast cancer.

I know there's a lot of backlash against the pink movement and about the prevalence of breast cancer awareness items. "There are other cancers, too!" People complain. No one is trying to demean those cancers or say that breast cancer is more important or noteworthy. But it's not a secret that women are the primary buyers in this country - and they are more likely to buy something they connect with. There's something about the color pink and what it stands for, that spreads hope, that resonates. And maybe, just maybe, we can zero in on a cure for breast cancer - which undoubtedly will lead toward breakthroughs in other types of cancer, as well.

Wearing pink, to me, is not about selling products or even raising money. It's about the gesture to the breast cancer community - strong women who have fought or are fighting still, or those who support their sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, nieces, daughters, cousins, friends in any way they can. It's about being part of Team Pink and letting those women know that I'm standing with them, too.

We're all in this together.

Even my camera is pink. Pinkception.


Steph A said...

Fun graphic! I'd like to know more about what it means to be a "comprehensive" cancer center, so i'll have to look into it. I kind of just assumed that pink breast cancer products were strictly a Komen thing, and i know that they give very little of their money to actual research. So your line is probably better and that's cool. But i still think giving the money straight to research rather than buying products so that people know you support research... makes more sense to me. Not that i'm against what you're doing.

Terra said...

First, you're adorable, and second, I think it's awesome that you rocked pink for such a good cause.