Monday, October 5, 2009

What about the GOLD?

Sometimes I get exasperated with the general public.

It's hard for me to understand how someone can be shown the injustice of something, and not care enough to try to change it or do something about it. Tonight I was on Facebook and noticed that there were pink ribbons everywhere. There are applications where people give pink ribbons, there are pink ribbons that you can give as gifts (the only color ribbon available for gifts). Yesterday much of the NFL was sporting pink sweatbands or shoe laces in honor of the month. So far since last Thursday, I've counted FIFTY-TWO pink ribbons on food products, on bags, on the sides of buses, and on websites.

I know and understand that pretty much everyone has known someone that has had Breast Cancer, and that fewer people have known someone with Pediatric Cancer. I also want to make it clear that I also support Breast Cancer Awareness. My grandmother beat Breast Cancer, and a member of my family is currently battling it. I support them, and all of the people I've known (which, when I just counted offhand, was 14) who have had the disease.

However, it still makes me angry that October completely overshadows September before it even gets there! It's not like Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month has to follow Breast Cancer Awareness Month and deal with the "leftover Pink-ness" ... no, people just get so excited for October that they start decorating/raising awareness early.

But. What about the kids? What about the ones who have cancer who are also trying to get through second grade, sixth grade, high school? What about the infants who don't understand anything except for the pain? What about the toddlers who have spent almost as many days in the hospital as they have out of it? What about the parents who not only have to worry about their child in the present day, but worry about the later side effects of treatment, such as hearing loss, infertility, and secondary cancers - IF their child even survives?

I'm not trying to compare Pediatric Cancer to Breast Cancer or say that either one is more important than the other. However, it makes me angry-sad-frustrated when Pediatric Cancer gets so little "coverage" and Breast Cancer gets so incredibly much. Why is it so lop-sided?

One answer might be the number of diagnoses. It is estimated that every year, 10,700 children will be diagnosed with a form of pediatric cancer. It is estimated that over 192,000 women will be diagnosed with Breast Cancer each year (ACS). That's almost 20 times the amount of Breast Cancer cases as Ped. Cancer cases.

But, does that mean it should overshadow these kids' fights? Does it mean any less attention should be paid to the fact that these children are being given (some) therapies that haven't been updated in decades? Does it mean any less attention should be paid to the fact that Pediatric Cancer research is funded almost as much by grassroots efforts and private donations as it is from money from our government? Does it mean these kids deserve the attention any less, just because they are a smaller group?

No. In my opinion, it does not.

Am I just crazy?


lindsey said...

it's all about marketing & money...for whatever reason breast cancer became the hot thing to support and now people are making money off of it. i read once that most of the companies that put breast cancer awareness stuff on their packaging, only about 1% of the profits they receive off it go to research or whatever, yet their profits increase by a huge amount if they add a pink ribbon to the box of cookies or whatever.
it's all about the money.

Kristen said...


How did I not even think of that?

That makes me even more sick... and reminds me of an article I read awhile ago. It was saying how when companies use bald children who have cancer in their ads, it gets them more sales than if they use a photo of a child with cancer who has hair and does not look as sick.


lindsey said...
not the article i read a few years ago, but talks about all the pink!

Maria said...

october is also domestic violence awareness month, but who knows that? what about the purple...

every cause is worthy of being prioritized, but our society talks about what it wants to talk about.

Kristen said...

@Maria ... I knew that, because one of the sororities on campus had a "rock sit" the other day and had someone sitting on the rock all day long, and the whole sorority raised awareness :-)

But yes, I see your point... all causes are worth attention, it's just weird to me that certain ones get SO MUCH while others are left in their shadows.

PhineasPoe said...

I've wondered about how certain things become in vogue. I think what you said about almost everyone having known somebody who's had breast cancer is part of the explanation. All you can really do is to work for whatever cause you identify with. Pediatric cancer is definitely a worthy cause. My wife and I have become involved with Alex's Lemonade Stand ( and recently hosted a lemonade stand of our own. You can really only do your part and hope it makes a difference.