Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday Morning Papers: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Sunday Morning Papers: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Yesterday, October 1, was the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, sponsored by someone to do something,  With 1 in 8 American women being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, it's not like we're not aware of it, or why we need to be super aware of it in October.  I'm aware of breast cancer in Mid-March, the anniversary of my Aunt's death while recovering from her double mastectomy.  Most Americans have these personal remembrances.  I usually register for the Komen Race for the Cure run at that time, and try to raise a little money for my local Komen affiliate to pay for mammograms for uninsured women.  

What I become aware of in October, is the number of breast cancer organizations, and the number of corporations who produce pink goods with a portion of the proceeds going to breast cancer research.  Who are they, and what are they doing?  I'm currently watching the Bears take on the Carolina Panthers, and all of the players are wearing pink to... um.... bring awareness, but something else?  Demonstrate that the NFL loves the ladies?  Okay - they are trying to get a message out from the American Cancer Society that annual screenings can save lives, but unless you go to the NFL website, it's a little fuzzy as to what they are doing.  While you are there, why don't you buy a $30 pink long-sleeve Bears shirt?  Somehow Reebok and the NFL are teaming up to support the ACS, but the actual percentage of that $30 purchase going to the ACS is not disclosed on the site.  

It's hard to figure out what is appropriate and what is not when it comes to exploiting the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Companies want to be seen as caring about national causes, and yeah - some pink products aren't a bad idea if they directly raise money for charities that fully disclose where the money goes.  This is one of the reasons that I like to support the Komen Fund.  In addition to pink running wear and water bottles, they also offer training and educational materials, and the site fully discloses where your money goes and the programs that are supported.  Or... you could buy a pink martini glass from these guys, where an undisclosed portion of the proceeds will go to the Komen fund.

So this month, before you plan on buying a specially marked can of Progresso soup, please take a moment and ask what's really going on here.  Will General Mills be making a flat donation whether you buy it or not?  Who are they donating the money to?  What does that charity actually do to fight breast cancer?  Take a moment to ask questions.  Research the charities, at least looking them up on Charity Navigator, and then really think about whether buying a pink coffee maker or making a direct donation to the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund would be a better use of your money.

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