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Our View: Breast cancer, time for true awareness

Published: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Updated: Thursday, February 27, 2014 12:02

From the NFL to organizations on campus, breast cancer awareness continues to be a topic of conversation for everyone in the United States, not just women.

And at the surface, it seems to be with good reason.

After all, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women, according to the American Cancer Society.

However, a closer look reveals that while breast cancer awareness is a noble cause, many breast cancer campaigns not only spread misinformation, but also potentially hinder cancer treatment.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is the foremost fundraising campaign for breast cancer awareness and research.

It seems to be the default breast cancer charity because it goes to a “great cause,” yet few actually examine the interworking of the foundation itself.

Allegations have recently spread about “pinkwashing,” or using the pink ribbon to turn a profit for the charity with corporations.

For example, the pink ribbon so iconically used to represent breast cancer awareness was claimed by the Komen Foundation, resulting in lawsuits to other charities that used the pink ribbon in their campaigns.

Instead of joining together to help fund research, Komen decided to stop other charities and gain even more money for itself.

The Foundation has also been known to dabble in corporate politics, such as in 2000, when they entered an exclusive contract with Yoplait to promote “Save Lids to Save Lives.”

When Dryer’s wanted to join with their own yogurt lid campaign, they were shut out.

It seems the Komen Foundation is more interested in profiting than it is in actually helping to end breast cancer or raise awareness.

Corporate profit aside, the biggest problem with breast cancer campaigns is not the cause they represent, but rather the diseases that are not represented.

Lung cancer is the first leading cause of cancer deaths in women, and the number one cause of death in women overall is heart disease, according to the World Health Organization.

Yet one is hard pressed to find a bracelet with the words, “I heart lungs” or “Save the aortas” in stores today.

Nobody seems to be “tough enough to wear purple,” or another color representing other diseases. That’s because those slogans simply aren’t catchy or taboo enough.

Breast cancer awareness campaigns are supposed to encourage people to detect potential cancerous cells early. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater the chance of survival.

However, the focus of campaigns has changed to the word breast, not the word cancer.

The shifting focus has hindered our ability to see the real danger behind blindly supporting breast cancer campaigns, in addition to taking the focus away from other harmful diseases.

It is time we take a step back before jumping on the bandwagon of promoting one type of cancer, and instead look at better causes for multiple types of cancers and diseases.

Yes, breast cancer is an important cause, and awareness campaigns have helped men and women alike detect potential cancerous cells.

However, putting the focus on only one type of cancer objectifies people, promotes corruption within charities and shifts the focus from equally important cancer campaigns.


“Our View” is written by the editorial staff. The opinions are not necessarily reflective of the student body, faculty or administration  at A-State.

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