If I asked you what the colour was for appendix cancer or oesophageal cancer – would you know?But I bet you know what the colour is for breast cancer, right? You can’t move during October for all things pink!!! The month is often referred to as “Pinktober” as companies try to cash in, sorry, help raise awareness of breast cancer by turning their products pink – a consumer fest of pinkiefied products! Seemingly anything and everything gets a pink ribbon slapped on it and people part with their money in the belief that they are helping to cure cancer! Thankfully, many people these days, especially cancer patients themselves, are starting to see through the pink wash and see how this kind of thing trivialises cancer; whilst it may focus attention on breast cancer awareness, it does very little to raise awareness of other cancers.
Cancer is not something to be marketed like a lipstick or a new mobile phone!It’s not slick or glossy. People who get cancer don’t look like the airbrushed people you often see in cancer awareness or fundraising advertisements. Some of the highly sexualised images being passed off as breast cancer awareness are often very demeaning to most breast cancer patients. The fact is, whilst breast cancer campaigns may raise awareness, many other cancers are often being ignored. Let me play devil’s advocate here and say, do we need breast cancer campaigns anymore? Don’t women know enough about checking their breasts and getting regular screening? Couldn’t some of the huge budgets that are currently being spent on breast cancer campaigns be spread around a little and help raise awareness of some other cancers like bladder cancer, liver cancer, womb cancer! Ask any cancer patient, and I don’t think you’ll find one that thinks their particular cancer is worse than someone else’s cancer. We are fighting our own battles in our own way. The focus needs to shift from one colour and one month to every month and every colour. People are diagnosed every day of the year with many different cancers and we are all in this fight together. The answer to the question I posed at the start of this piece is amber for appendix cancer and periwinkle for esophageal – so now you do know!
By Kaz Molloy