Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Think before you 'pink' this year

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For several years now, I have been fundraising and running in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Association. My blog and my email were adorned with pink badges and pleas for money. I was very successful in raising funds from my generous friends. But this year, I'm not doing it. Here's why.

First, let me make it clear I am very much in favour of cancer research, especially with regards to prevention. I am also very grateful my friend Holly was able to get a double mastectomy and reconstruction, and that my mother found her lump in time to be able to live almost 20 years afterwards (and then die of something else). It's a tragedy my son's yearbook is filled with motherless kids, because there's a mini-epidemic of breast cancer going on in my community.

But I can't stand the pink anymore.

I have always been uncomfortable with the amount of "pinkwashing" going on. The website thinkbeforeyoupink.org coined the term pinkwashing, especially to refer to products that might be part of the problem (think pink water bottles or pink cupcakes).

But the website also highlights the fact the pink ribbon is not regulated in any way. Everybody and his brother can stick a pink ribbon on their product, and we, the well-meaning consumers, have no way of knowing how much, if any, of that money goes to help cancer patients.

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation says on its website its cost of fundraising is 35.8 per cent. That means more than $350 of the $1,000 I raised went to pay for salaries, swag and other things that don't have anything to do with preventing or curing cancer.

This makes me feel ashamed I accepted gifts in the past as a reward for being such a good fundraiser. I'm sure those gifts (a nice gym bag, a gift certificate to The Running Room, even a lovely pink pearl pendant I treasure) came out of that 35.8 per cent.

Last year, I enjoyed my run very much, and I enjoyed the swag bag and the T-shirt and the music and the balloons and all the rest of it. I love the running tights I was able to get for cheap at The Running Room (where nothing is cheap). I don't regret any of those things. But I can't do them anymore. There are better ways to support patients and their families, and much better ways to prevent people from getting cancer in the first place.

This month is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. I've been spreading the word about my friend's son (read all about his battle with leukemia at supermansamuel.blogspot.com) and about the importance of Manitobans supporting CancerCare Manitoba. I will donate directly to the various body-part societies (my friend Tina is campaigning for the Canadian Liver Foundation after a long and arduous recovery from hepatitis C), and I will encourage everyone else to do so as well. But no more pink for me. I hope you, too, will think before you pink.

 

Winnipeg freelance writer Hadass Eviatar blogs at hadasseviatar.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 18, 2013 A11

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