...can I be a little sick of pink ribbons on EVERYTHING?

As a kid, October was one of the best months because of Halloween. Getting dressed up in costumes and going trick-or-treating around the neighborhood was BIG FUN! When I outgrew that stage of development, October lost its shine... and became the month that little kids overindulged in sugary sweets.

Little by little... October's importance as breast cancer awareness month grew as I got older. It did not make October a favorite month of mine, but my respect for the month grew. And then I was diagnosed with breast cancer... and suddenly October's importance loomed large in my life again.

There are many breast cancer survivors who don't care for the pink ribbon or all of the hype that this month brings. I am not bothered by the sea of pink that this month brings. In fact, since pink has always been one of my favorite colors, I'm absolutely overjoyed to be able to find so many items in pink because of breast cancer awareness.

So... today when I opened an email and read about "breast cancer pears"... I was confused. What on earth is a breast cancer pear, I thought? Well... its a piece of fruit. Yes, that's all. A piece of fruit that grew on a tree. No, it doesn't have magical qualities or some sort of miraculous healing properties that will cure breast cancer. It is simply a pear.


But it is a pear that is marketed by an organization that claims that purchasing these breast cancer pears is a wonderful way to show someone that you care for them ... and to contribute to the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. Its interesting that I stumbled on this email today because a few days ago I was engaged in a deep conversation with some ladies on line about the Komen Foundation and whether or not they are really working towards finding a cure... or just making money on the image of caring. (paraphrase mine...)

So... a pear that is just like any other pear that you buy or pick off a tree, suddenly is "better" because its packaged with a pink ribbon and sold (probably for a premium) in order for the California pear industry to be able to make a sizable donation to Komen.


Just seeing that made me sigh deeply. Some of the items that are plastered with pink ribbons simply mean nothing. Nothing. Companies have now begun to just take advantage of a disease that is ravaging the lives of many women and men... because it looks good to say that we support breast cancer awareness. But the lack of specificity about how exactly you hope to support breast cancer awareness, the lack of direct assistance to the millions of women and men who are struggling physically and financially because of this disease, the lack of anything other than a boost to the corporate bottom line... is truly distasteful to me.

Not every corporation is guilty of slapping a pink ribbon and leaving it at that. And maybe I'm just cranky because its starting to feel overwhelming this month... but some of the ideas are just so disingenuous. A pear? Why not a biscuit or a cherry or heck... some tea? I'm being facetious but I'm sure that if I searched for any of these items, there will be an organization who is selling the false hope that something is being done... because they slapped a pink ribbon on it and wrote a check.

I won't tell anyone how to spend their money. And honestly, I do believe that seeing pink ribbons everywhere does help raise the awareness of the disease. But, I also think it gives people a false sense of involvement and understanding... breast cancer is a complicated disease that requires a complex range of treatment options. Buying a pear -- no matter how well intentioned the giver is -- will not make anything better.

I wanted to respond to the person who posted that they were looking for these miracle pears because they wanted to gift them to someone who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. And maybe I will go back and send her a private note. But, I feel badly telling someone who has good intentions that their gift idea is lame and probably a waste of money. If you want to buy pears... just buy some pears. They don't have to be wrapped in a box with pink ribbons in order to be effective or appreciated.

Its the thought that counts... not the pink ribbon.

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