Pink, October, and Pinkwashing

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Last weekend I took a flight to visit dear friends and to celebrate another 40th Birthday. The morning of this above photo I was with one of my closest friends and her family in NYC. We left the house a bit late to catch some very important soccer games :) at different locations in the city. With my travel I remembered my glass water bottle, but forgot my ceramic coffee mug which led us to a coffee shop where I was handed the above coffee. Darn! First annoyance was I purchased one use plastic, and second it was PINK! 

As I sat in a cab I snapped this photo reflecting on the absurdity of this PINK plastic lid in the name of Breast Cancer Research, supposedly saving lives while poisoning us with BPA, hormone disruptors, and other chemicals and killing marine life. Hmmm... I can not wrap my head around this one. (For the record I did not drink from the lid.)

Here are some facts that a plastic pink coffee cover does not address:

1. In 2017, an estimated 255,180 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men and women with an additional 63,410 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer (also known as carcinoma in situ). 

2. About 40,610 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2017 from breast cancer and 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.

3. Overall, African-American women are 42% more likely to die of breast cancer.

4. Only 7-10% of breast cancers are based on hereditary gene variants. 

So the pink plastic coffee is an example of pinkwashing. Companies profiting from slogans such as "for the cure" while contributing to the lack of significant funds for metastatic research and actually causing harm to our bodies and immune system. Here is a list of questions to ask, created by the Think Before You Pink Campaign: http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/resources/before-you-buy/ 

I am so grateful for my life, grateful for my family and friends, grateful I have had the opportunity to turn 40 and to celebrate with my friends as they turn 40. I am grateful every morning as I wake and as I see my children's smiles, and help them navigate through their difficulties. Pink plastic lids are lost on me, and I can only hope that it led to at least one woman doing a self exam and minimal funds raised making a difference somewhere. 

In October we swim in a sea of pink, yes we are aware, yet there are still harsh treatments to treat a terrible disease with the hope that it does not spread to metastatic cancer, or come back as recurrence. And there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer, too many of our friends, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, and aunts are losing their lives to this terrible disease. 

So how can you honor survivors? Do a self exam, as this is how most breast cancers are detected. Be your own health care advocate and even if you are young, know that young women can and do get breast cancer even with no family history. Exercise! Did you know that being overweight is the number 1 risk factor? Find one new way to eliminate toxins in your home. Eat one healthier meal a week.

Many women are currently battling metastatic breast cancer and THERE IS NO CURE! If you are looking to donate money to help support research you can donate to www.metavivor.org.  

I am a volunteer local outreach coordinator for FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered and a State Leader for Young Survival Coalition. I also co-lead a young support group in the Chapel Hill/Durham N.C. area. I work to empower young women and it is fulfilling in many ways. It is also difficult as I connect with more women each year, newly diagnosed, in treatment, dealing with the harsh aftermath of surgery and treatments, and navigating the world of metastatic cancer. This is why I can't help the resentment when I see a company profiting from a pink plastic coffee lid, (even if a very small donation is made by the plastic producing company) while I know young women actively dying of a terrible disease. Research and health advocacy is needed, not smiling Instagram photos of people with toxic pink coffee lids.  

Resources and Links:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/tritan-bpa-free-plastic-styrofoam-estrogen/

http://www.metavivor.org

http://www.breastcancer.org/

http://www.facingourrisk.org

http://www.youngsurvival.org

http://bcrf.org