Way out in the great sea of merchandising, a pink tsunami is building. In just a few weeks, a tidal wave of pink ribbons will wash ashore in celebration of the infamous “Pinktober.” What is this madness, you say? If you've never experienced the mighty, rushing wind of pinkness, get ready. It's coming and there's nothing you can do to stop it.
The first October after I was diagnosed with breast cancer was daunting. Still in the midst of treatment, I was unprepared and caught off guard by what many knew to be Pinktober. My unfamiliarity with the term caused me to do some digging. What was it and how would it affect me? These were questions that needed answers. My curious mind wanted to know.
Understanding Pinktober was fairly easy, and with internet research I found the answers I'd been seeking. Pinktober was a phrase coined by the world in recognition of the most celebrated month of breast cancer awareness which is celebrated every October. During breast cancer awareness month, medical professionals along with many others, spend time educating the public on early detection, warning signs, tests and procedures relating to the prevention and treatment of the disease. While sharing valuable information, some hospitals and medical facilities also offer free mammograms during this time. And while all diseases could benefit from a specific month of awareness, breast cancer seems to top the charts with publicity and recognition.
Months ahead of time, companies begin preparing to “pinkify” their merchandise in hopes the addition of a little pink ribbon will boost sales. Their intentions, while noble, aren't always good. That little pink ribbon that appears on everything from packages of toilet paper to boxes of cereal has its own fancy name: "pinkwashing." If you're new to Pinktober, you've probably wondered about pinkwashing.
Pinkwashing is a phrase coined from two words: pink and whitewashing. Basically, what it means for retailers is dollar signs – and lots of them. Just before and during the month of October, retailers begin pledging a percentage of their income to breast cancer research. Some companies legitimately donate part of their sales to medical research, while others do not.
Pinktober can be overwhelming, especially if this is your first one. Not only does the massive pink wave swoop through the world of merchandising, many famous celebrities ride the wave, too. Breast cancer survivors like Joan Lunden, Robin Roberts, Kathy Bates, Amy Robach and so many others affected by breast cancer do their best to bring awareness to breast cancer by sharing their personal stories. And the month of October, with breast cancer awareness so prevalent in the public eye, gives them a great platform for reaching the public.
For those who've experienced breast cancer firsthand, we either love, loathe or tolerate the month of October. Most of us are thankful for a month devoted to breast cancer awareness, but it can feel like we're drowning in an ocean of pink.
One thing is for sure, that little pink ribbon is a symbol known all over the world. No words need to be spoken. The meaning is clear. Breast cancer can affect men, women and even children. It touches the lives of all races and religions. Breast cancer is nasty business and changes lives forever. And if we can make sure people understand that, while offering information on prevention and care, then I say, "Brace yourself, the tide is rising, the water is gathering at your feet."
May we all take a moment to remember those who've lost their fight with breast cancer and those who are currently fighting now. Pinktober, the month of breast cancer awareness, is the perfect time for remembering the seriousness of a disease with no current cure.