Pinktober - It Will Turn You Green By Joanne Taylor

Joanne has been living with cancer for many years and is influential in the world
of cancer support.

And here we are again... October - time for 'awareness' and everything in the town to be painted pink - #pinktober as it's called on twitter.

I hate it.

I've never been one for pink, even when I created abcd, I actually said I didn't want pink in the logo. Thankfully, my friend who deals with brands and marketing did, at the very last minute, encourage me to go with it with a 'I think it would be a bad move not to have the pink d ribbon in there' and I knew he was right. It just felt wrong and against my principles.

What I wanted was a big black C - for Cancer, for everything that breast cancer is - a big black cloud, an uncertain future, the shock, the fear, the anger, the upset, the disfiguring surgery, the sleepless nights, the worry - breast cancer to me will NEVER be a pink ribbon with all the fluff and girly loveliness that it portrays when you think of pink. My daughter loves pink, she's only 8; she wants a pink car when she's older. I hope for other things for her and for our family.

And it is a branding phenomenon - recognised absolutely everywhere in the world, from children to old people, everyone knows what it means and stands for.

And that's great, that how a brands work. But the thing that gets me is that is so overly used and for what message? A truck or a bus is painted pink and that is supposed to remind you to check yourself or have a mammogram? This is the bit I don't like between charities and businesses. They can charge you thousands of pounds for you to use their 'brand' in this way and that in effect markets their company to a cause.

Aw how lovely, they support breast cancer, let's buy some concrete from them.

Erm... No

This is what I'd like to see.

A company wants to 'buy into' Breast Cancer Awareness for October are on a list of companies who support (that's the only marketing that there will be, being on a list). What money they would have used to support this i.e. change logo, paint things pink, branding etc then donate this to breast cancer research.

Secondary breast cancer research in particular - that's the one that kills people.

The one that I have and many others who are living with and dying from.

There is no cure. Only treatment.

I would support businesses much more if I knew they weren't blatantly just using the pink ribbon for marketing. I know in the UK it's much different than in the US but who the hell wants pink sanitary towels or a pink vibrator (yes, I've seen both) it's just madness. All in the name of 'awareness'.

Instead of doing this what about sending a clear message. Even companies can send a message to their employees 'please don't ignore symptoms and see your doctor early - get regular checks for lumps and bumps and have regular mammograms communicate the message of self-awareness for ALL cancers to people?' And for the awareness of secondary breast cancer share my infographics with them. These are the ones that NHS England now signpost to and are to be shared in the Personalized Care Plans for primary patients. Get them to be aware of red flag symptoms as around 30% of early stage breast cancer patients then develop secondary breast cancer and they need to know what to look out for as this is real awareness 

No quirky slogan or silly thing that you have to do on Facebook or dress up or decorate a bra... The message is out there, people are so much more aware of breast cancer in particular.

And here's another issue I have, all these coffee mornings with loads of cake and chocolate and well... nice unhealthy things. Look don't get me wrong I LOVE cake, I LOVE chocolate, but the message is loud and clear, from Cancer Research UK, MacMillan, Breast Cancer Now, World Cancer Research Fund (just about every cancer charity or research organization) - diet and exercise are ways to help reduce the risk of many cancer types. Shouldn't the charities that are 'responsible', be promoting healthy lifestyle, instead of 'stuff yourself with cake till you can't move' attitude, be doing something different? Isn't it like stopping smoking and going to smoking cessation sessions and handing out cigarettes to ex-smokers? So yeh I went to an AA meeting and guess what? They give me a glass of wine!!


Fun runs and challenges are great. But people want to know HOW to get into regular exercise into their life, not just once a year. They want to know how to fit these things around kids and work and home life and... are you catching my drift? We need to know HOW to do these things. People need help, some kind of program or club or whatever to help them do what they are being told constantly what to do and what is best for their health.

I'd love to see a coffee morning with leaflets on lifestyle changes or ways to motivate people on diet and exercise, or nearest places for exercise, for healthy eating to help people do what you keep on ramming down our throats!

This is what I do with friends, come on join in, we should start a club, run, cycle, find something you like... Doing it together helps, finding a buddy helps - they get it! 

Anyone who knows my story will know I'm a pretty healthy person, so breast cancer came as a huge shock as I supposedly didn't have the same risks as we are talking about. But until doctors can tell you the exact reason WHY you've had breast cancer then people will not want to take notice of what is being said. So, I know this sounds a bit pointless and 'why bother' but the one thing I know is that once you've had cancer NOTHING is ever the same. If I could turn the clock back I would. If I could change something I would. If you have the opportunity - take it - as you wouldn't want the uncertainty that I, and many like me have now. Help yourself. Balance things out. Take notice of what these reports say. No one likes a know it all, no one likes to hear someone say, 'I told you so'. Shit happens and we can't always control it - I was told I was 'unlucky' - but if we can, then you know what, do whatever you can to change it, as your children and grandchildren will thank you for it and here's hoping you're around to see them grow...  and people who don’t have children you want to be around for your partners and family to see you for a long long time.

Surely that's one lasting legacy that you can give to your child or children, family or friends.  The gift of exercise? The gift of being healthy? Getting them to enjoy something and continue to do so?

Now that should be one hell of a motivational kick up the arse for you to do something and if you want to then do it in a pink tutu or a pink bra then feel free to do so.

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Founder of @METUPUKorg – advocacy group aiming to turn metatstatic BC into a chronic illness and support patients #BusyLivingWithMets

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