It’s October, and while orange traditionally saturates this month,
pink has become the new ubiquitous color of October, thanks to Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Pink and orange even intersected on one page in this weekend’s paper.
A Brief History
“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.
The Pink Ribbon was adopted by Evelyn Lauder, then senior corporate vice president of Estée Lauder and a breast cancer survivor herself, as the wave of ribbons-as-awareness-symbols gained traction in the United States. The yellow ribbon tied around trees became the symbol of hostages held in Iran (1979), then the red ribbon became the activist AIDS icon in the early 1990’s. Estée Lauder put 1.5 million breast self-exam instruction cards adorned with pink ribbons on make-up counters across the nation.
About that time Avon, with the help of marketing guru Carol Cone, introduced a pink ribbon pin for women and men to wear, with proceeds donated to breast cancer research. Lauder answered with a make-up compact with an enameled pink ribbon. You get the idea; the rest was pink history. Companies figured they could do better by doing good, increase revenue and donate to a worthy cause by selling pink-branded products. Cynicism abounds as to the quantifiable donations received for research from the sale of pink products, but I’m not here to debate that.
pink items on display at the Pinehurst Pro Shop
A Patient’s Perspective
October 2007. Sitting in the exam room with my husband, my trusted oncologist asked me, “So how are you feeling about October?” I didn’t get her point immediately, until she said, “You know, all the pink. Many of my patients have a hard time in October, with the barrage of breast cancer awareness from all sides.” Not only are there oodles of pink products for sale, but studies and findings are released about new drugs, therapies and research results for battling breast cancer. Many not affected by the disease may view this pink activity positively, but for those of us in the Pink Club, it can be emotional and anxiety-producing. My doctor says the number of phone calls and emails she receives from patients increases dramatically during October as a result. All that pink news haunts us.
Please don’t mistake me. I am grateful to all who have joined the cause in one way or another, but I wanted to raise the awareness that all of the awareness-raising can have unintended consequences to those undergoing treatment.
Many of you know I love Halloween. As fate would have it, my orange and pink collided back in ’07 when I had my last chemotherapy treatment on Halloween. My daughters celebrated this sweet milestone.
After treatment, I wished to return to normal, pre-bald headed days. I didn’t want to be a poster child for Breast Cancer. However, as time has marched on, my survivorship looks terrific, but other of my friends have lost their battle and even more have been diagnosed. It has taken me six years to become comfortable, but now I am ready to get involved. You can join me to support the cause if you wish by attending or donating to our first THINK PINK fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. One hundred percent of your donation is tax-deductible. Thank you and THINK PINK!