This is the month of the Pink. Pink-tober. The month during which nearly every commercial entity in the US feels it needs to weigh in on breast cancer by turning everything in sight pink. The origins of painting the world pink are sinister and cynical.
Another blogger I have been following, at the small c, posted her thoughts on Pinktober recently. (As a breast cancer patient, I feel she is both more qualified and more entitled to weigh in on this.) She tells an unpleasant tale of a television appearance she and a friend were solicited for, which was initially presented as a way to raise awareness about breast cancer, but was actually actually going to be a completely scripted, absolutely not genuine representation of two friends with breast cancer. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that this was the aim of the producers — to shove aside anything the actual sufferers of a disease might have to teach people, in the interest of advancing their own narrative about cancer (right or wrong).
My cancer does not have quite the brand recognition that breast cancer does. It isn’t even in the top three in terms of market share. Add to this the fact that my treatments, immunotherapy and targeted therapy, aren’t part of most people’s cancer lexicon yet (although immunotherapy is starting to be something that people recognize, more and more).
The official color of melanoma is black, which means on any given day, I’m an ambassador for my brand, but no one realizes it, because I live in New York City, and people tend to wear a whole lot of black here. Immunotherapy, as its major proponent, the Cancer Research Institute, has decided, is represented by white. (A yin-yang situation, when it comes to melanoma, which was one of the first cancers to be successfully contained with immunotherapy.)
Strangely enough, and even more so because I don’t ever wear pink, and have never surrounded myself with things pink, it has taken on a layer of meaning for me that is, if not health-focused, at least health-adjacent.
Pictured, my morning dose of Tafinlar, one of the two targeted therapies I take — although Mekinist, which I take at night, is pink too) — and my beloved pinky ball. I first came across these balls in use at my favorite local exercise studio, where we use them while standing against a wall, to roll out tight spots on our necks and shoulders. Lately, the pinky ball I bought for home use has been keeping the blood circulating in my left heel, as I struggle with plantar fasciitis. (Not included in this photo: My Prednisolone eye drops, which have a pink bottle cap, and which help when the pesky uveitis that is a side effect of my treatment shows up.)
I understand, and deplore, the hijacking of Pink(TM). But on a personal level, I guess I’ve become a fan of the therapeutic pink things in my daily orbit.
And also a fan of the poem reprinted here, by my late friend Sarah, who had something different to say about pink. (I still miss her.)
2 thoughts on “Pink (NOT Pinkwashing) for health”
Thank you for the mention of my latest piece. I appreciate it. It’s interesting, I never minded the color pink, and in fact, there’s a lot of pink on my page. I also don’t mind October (love the Fall), but I have to admit my cancer associations have, to some degree, affected my sense of emotional connection to both. The trauma is real. I see your association to pink is pleasant despite what it represents in the cancer world. And it’s totally understandable. I have to say, I don’t like the divisions in cancerland. Why do we need different colors? Cancer should be black. All cancers suck, period. I know the intention behind this marketing strategy though. And I do wish (and hope) that other types of cancers get more attention and support. I hope you’re tolerating treatments well. And thanks again for your support. xx
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I agree! Let’s stop the color war! Cancer is not summer camp…
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