It's Pink Month Y'all
Pink month is upon us. Not that I could ever forget that I’ve had cancer, but in October, it’s particularly difficult because it’s like the Christmas of breast cancer-a time where decorations, merch, and cancer walks abound. Everywhere you go it seems like there is a pink shirt to be sold and the same trite inspirational quotes to be read. You can’t turn a corner, even in the most desolate of boutiques in the far reaches of the Bronx and not see a pink t-shirt with a slogan on it.
I can’t fault anyone, really. I mean, what started as an earnest attempt to raise awareness for breast cancer has been slightly sullied by various companies and brands trying to push their products. I don’t even find the blatant capitalism of it all offensive to be honest. I think most clothing stores started out being earnest about raising money and awareness for cancer. I just think that now it has become one of those things where if you are not making it clear that you are aware of breast cancer and supporting the cause, then you are an outsider. No one wants to be an outsider. So people stock their stores with their pink wares both to be in-the-know as well as to make a few bucks out of an easy sell campaign without really researching where the money is really going.
And for the first time in my life, I am without strong opinion. Do I think that putting a bright, pink face on what was a traumatic experience for me is okay? Yeah, sort of. I mean, people cope in different ways. Do I like sharing only positivity and bright thoughts? Obviously not, but I am open to the fact that the inspirational quotes and walks are the exact sort of boost that some people need. Who am I to begrudge someone their cancer walks and pink T-shirts? I’m not even trying to be condescending. I truly believe that there is room on this earth for the pessimists, optimists, and everyone in between.
One thing I do take issue with is the fact that a lot of money raised for cancer doesn’t necessarily go toward helping cancer patients, whether directly or indirectly. There are so many wonderful charities that are overlooked who could make a really big impact in their community, but they don’t get enough publicity or special walks. For example, when I was going through a struggle in the beginning of my cancer journey, one where I was without insurance due to having had just started a new job, I looked to charities for help. I was turned away from exactly 5/5 of them. I resorted to putting my pride aside and starting a GoFundMe campaign.
Do I think the charities were evil, not doing their jobs, or discriminating against me? Initially yes. I was emotional and scared. In hindsight I realize that they were just underfunded and in high demand. There is simply just not enough money to go around. I also happen to have been diagnosed during a bad time where most charities were closing off submissions in order to raise more money. In fact, one charity did tell me directly that because they were so short on funds that they were only concentrating on patients in one state-NJ. I happened to have been in NYC at the time.
What I am trying to say is that before you support any charity, walk, or buy into products that will donate proceeds, please do some research. Make sure you are actually contributing to a campaign that is going to give back to the community, whether it be through research or directly via grants and donations.
Charities That Give Back
I’m taking some of the work off of your hands and compiling a short list of charities that I think make really great impacts on the community. Here are a few:
Cancer Social Work Department-this isn’t necessarily a charity, but most if not all cancer centers have a social work department that is wonderful. They provide counseling, group therapy, free prosthetics, food cards, rides to and from treatments, and a lot more to the patients. If you want to make a real and personal impact I suggest contacting your local cancer center and seeing if the social work department is taking any donations. You can donate wigs, actual money in the form of grants, or Visa gift cards.
Pink Daisy Project-This organization also makes a direct impact on the community by raising money to help patients financially, whether they need money for food, gas, bills, etc. They have actual recipient testimonials here.
The Sam Fund-The Sam Fund provides some relief for young adults with cancer. They have great free online resources that help with cancer in the workplace, finance issues, and finding a community. They also provide free webinars on various topics, mostly finance and the nitty gritty not so fun stuff you have to deal with when you have cancer. They give out grants to young survivors to get them back on their feet. I know the post chemo and treatment process was the hardest for me. The Sam Fund is great if you need a little time to recuperate and get therapy and need some money until you are ready to face the world. The grant can also be helpful for school etc.
Metavivor-Metavivor is amazing for those who are experiencing metastatic breast cancer. Metastatic means that the cancer has spread from the breast to other parts of the body. This is extremely scary for those facing this diagnosis as there is no cure for this disease. What Metavivor is trying to do is raise money for research. There is no enough research on metastatic cancer, and it’s definitely something that needs more funding and more awareness. Donating to this cause could be life changing.
The Tutu Project-The tutu project is great. It’s fun and cute and gives back to the community. They send out care packages to those going through treatment and also help with grants through the Carey Fund for things like medications, gas, counseling, prosthetics, etc.
Is This Offensive?
While we are on the subject of pink month and what is and is not offensive, I just want to take a brief pause to pose the question on whether or not the above controversial picture is offensive. I personally don’t think it is. I love this type of irreverent, tongue-in-cheek humor. My personal brand is basically “laugh through it all.” It takes a lot to offend me. What would upset me more is if the proceeds are going to an empty do-nothing charity that doesn’t contribute to the community at all. They are giving 20% of the proceeds to the National Breast Cancer Foundation btw. I also understand the counterpoint that it’s “too soon” for some. We all grieve and experience things in different ways, and I am open to the idea that this is offensive to those who don’t cope in the same way I do. I am interested in hearing what people’s thoughts are. Please comment down below!