Right when October rolls around, it's almost impossible to avoid the pink ribbons and apparel that signal National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But while those items may have good intentions behind them, pink ribbons don't tell the whole story about breast cancer.
Tracie Marie, a breast cancer survivor, spoke out on the truth about "pinkwashing" campaigns in an honest Facebook post in which she shared a photo of her double mastectomy scars.
"While the majority of people believe that Breast Cancer is a pink ribbon, a pink Pom Pom, a pen with a pink ribbon, a tote with a pink ribbon, an encap at your local Walmart engaging you to be a 'part of the cure,'" she wrote. "First, a hard reality, you are not being part of the cure, you’re just throwing your money away to propaganda, uniforms for NFL cheerleaders, and kiosk after kiosk with items from handbags to ziplock bags."
Marie's points echo that of what critics of pink ribbons have been saying for years, which is that the money raised for "awareness" actually does very little for breast cancer patients in the long run. While we've raised a lot of money for breast cancer awareness and research, many terminal breast cancer patients feel they have been forgotten.
"A pink ribbon isn’t the men and women fighting for their lives with metastatic breast cancer," she wrote.
Marie also dismantled other myths about breast cancer, writing that it's often sexualised, and shutting down the idea that survivors get "free boob jobs."
"Showing models with fake scars, beautiful bodies and breasts with the strap so perfectly dangling from her shoulder," she wrote. "That’s not what Breast cancer is. It’s CTs, surgeries, amputations, biopsies, MRIs, X-rays, radiation, chemo, IVs, blood tests, fear, worry, hate, anger, confusion, sadness, loneliness, medications, check ups, anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain."
Marie is now out of treatment, and doctors declared that she has "NED," or "no evidence of disease," but she still has to attend doctors' appointments, counselling, physical therapy, and pain management.
Since she posted her photo on Facebook two weeks ago, it has gone viral with over 185,000 shares at the time of writing. She told Scary Mommy that she's heard from many survivors who have reached out to her for advice and help.
"I think it’s important that I really read their messages and respond appropriately and in a way that I can help," she says. "I am helping so many realize the truth about the pink ribbon and how the support it used to mean for us diagnosed with breast cancer is now shadowed by pink dollar signs and lined pockets and it’s not the cancer patients receiving the help."
Refinery29 has reached out to Marie for comment, and will update this article when we receive a response.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more stories about detecting, treating, or living with breast cancer, click here.
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