Pink out: Is breast cancer awareness over the top?

It’s October and that means one thing — it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

By now, you’ve seen it all, heard it all and read it all.

The color pink and the overabundance of breast cancer awareness messages seem to have some people seeing red.

You can’t stroll down the grocery store aisle without seeing at least three products with a sliver of pink on the packaging — pretzels, drinks, bread and, apparently, even Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

But, how much of that money is going toward breast cancer research?

Check out this 2009 article from AOL’s Daily Finance. In it, the writer uncovers some pretty startling information:

So how does purchasing a pink Swiffer help the cause? It’s unclear from the label, because it contains no information about how its purchase will help support breast-cancer causes. And, according to a Procter & Gamble spokeswoman, the company will only make a two-cent donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation if a consumer uses a coupon from Procter & Gamble’s brand saver coupon book, which was distributed in newspapers on Sept. 27. Without the coupon, the limited-edition pink packaging on the Swiffer is simply designed to draw awareness to the cause.

The article also mentioned Herr’s products, where a cap was in place on donations.

Money-hungry corporations have latched onto the pink bandwagon, not to help make a difference, but to make a profit.

And think about it… it’s pretty difficult to not consider breast cancer a major problem, especially because it attacks the women in our lives — mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, etc.

And these are the folks who are targeted in a majority of advertising anyway. So a company who has repackaged its items for October might not be in the market to make a difference in the fight against breast cancer, but knows that since mom is doing the shopping, she’s more likely to pick up a pink packaged product to join in the fight.

But what about groups that are legitimately helping to fundraise for breast cancer research?

As a longtime volunteer for the American Cancer Society, it sickens me to see other organizations practically whore themselves (and survivors) out just to market their cause. The Susan G. Komen Foundation has its name on a multitude of products, and, while the money is at least going to an organization dedicated to fighting breast cancer, the cost to market the foundation’s name on household products is taking away a lot of money that could be used for research.

I’m not sure of the deal inked between the American Cancer Society and the NFL for the promotion of the organization’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer events. However, the American Cancer Society has, for a very long time, depended on grassroots, community efforts to get its message across, while Komen has bolted right to Corporate America.

The American Cancer Society and its network of local offices and volunteers works to connect the community with information, thus, keeping marketing costs to a minimum. In fact, it’s only been in the last few years or so that the American Cancer Society has really pushed its mission across a national audience — with its birthday commercials, etc.

I do understand the frustration of too much pink. But, at the same time I argue that without it, millions of lives could have been lost, and still could be lost if we don’t continue to push that message. Imagine how many children might not have a living mother today if it weren’t for the color pink being everywhere?

Some bloggers and newspaper columnists I’ve read throughout the month have argued that other diseases are just as important and should be given the attention.

And they are correct. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Women still are dying of lung cancer. Obesity also is a factor for women.

The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association are two very important organizations whose messages, sadly, are not as loud as those from the breast cancer awareness groups.

But my focus is on fighting cancer (not just breast cancer, but all cancer). I’ve given my life to help make somebody’s life a little better after hearing those words, “You have cancer.”

I recognize that other diseases are important, and there are (or should be) people out there helping to make a difference with those causes.

I’ve chosen to fight cancer. What is it that you lend a hand to?