Breast Cancer Action Think Before You Pink Toolkit


As I look at the many messages portrayed about breast cancer, one might get the wrong impression. The impression that early detection prevents secondary breast cancer. The impression that if one dies from breast cancer they must have done something wrong or or have not done something right. It’s a message that pink is the color of health – the color of support, the color of good women who survived doing all the best treatments. The color of white women. The color of disease free women. The color of great corporate citizenship. I’m certain that there’s individuals whose hearts in the right place, but the companies for which they work interests lie in only one thing: shareholder value, read profits.

Profiteering on the backs of the suffering makes me wince. I’ve been a CEO. I know the impact of impressions in the public eye and their bearing on profits. This primer provides you with the necessary information to help educate and actionable things you can do to help uncover the myths surrounding metastatic breast cancer. We don’t ever stop treatments, the treatments fail us and we don’t survive, we die. We are not counted until then, and the number of us is a mere estimate that hovered around 160-170,000 every year with 40,000 new cases and we die every day.

The disbelief in our illness because we look too good to be so sick creates another paradox. I was told this evening I could work and plenty of people with cancer work. Yet if a job were available in Silicon Valley for a woman over 50 with metastatic cancer that would make her an employee who needs more than 50 sick days a year and late arrivals and early departures in a cut throat traffic heavy ugly, stress inducing environment I’d like to imagine that it would be easy and if it were I’d be able to make enough money to both survive and to pay the massive health bills and massive loss of wages for going to an office with flickering lights, noise, electromagnetism, and so on? You might think it was this very environment that accelerated my disease in the first place.

Call me a pessimist or a cynic, but 28 years of professional experience got me nowhere once I reached 47. Many women struggle with finding work that pays what they’re worth. I feel like pink washing is sort of like that. The token woman here or there who is able to hang on that long and then a company can take its due credit from her actively working for them for less than she’s worth. In this case, it’s her life. My life.

So click the link and download the documents available to you. They’re worth reading and may just move you to act on your indignation.

And, cancer really, really sucks. I’m clearly not feeling hopeful today. But there’s always tomorrow…or not.

4 comments on “Breast Cancer Action Think Before You Pink Toolkit”

  1. Dear Ilene,
    I am unable to express/convey in writing … how much your blog means to me. I continue to look forward to reading your writings and happy when I receive notifications of new posts. I continue to struggle with the whole regimen of treating IV metastatic breast cancer.

    Due to ever changing technology … after three attempts; I am able to connect / reach out and write comments.

    Thank you for continuing to share your journey.

    1. Technology…changes with the will of how frustrated the steel-nerved steady user can tolerate. I’m so sorry you had to go through some irritating stuff to simply post a kind comment. Imho WordPress is the best platform, after TypePad, and far above blogger and the corporate blog software I endured during my short 28 years fighting the good fight as a woman in high tech. I suppose in some ways I hope to leave a similar legacy in the works of metastatic cancer. Working with my words (see my personal tech blog – which I no longer keep up, but keep online for posterity I suppose if nothing else.)

      Good news: C is better, and my hope improves with each day he regains his humor and his memory. In some ways depression is a lot like the effects of cancer and chemo, the deathly combination that sticks us like a stamp on a paper envelope. Sometimes my essays ramble on because they can. But this blog comes with too high a price for the expensive toll it takes to walk on a path with the freedom to speak my mind. But speak I must, and for the kindness of your expressions of gratitude I am humbled and blessed.

      Liesl, you’re a beautiful soul. Gentle people shouldn’t have to struggle with cancer or the fears that we can’t seem to shake on those nights when sleep doesn’t visit and the morning comes too slow to rise up and bring our light back to our eyes.

      As long as you read, I will write. As long as you can decipher my drivel, I’ll continue to put pen to paper and then into my iPad. I’m so glad you persevered and let me know you’re okay; I won’t plague anyone with my concerns. Though you should know I think of you and you enter my mind when I meditate in peace for strength to reach you from my heart.

      On borrowed time with a statistical probability of 27% I’ll live pass year 5 with MBC, I cannot help but become slightly mushy and softer in my approach – and that’s groan worthy given my past penitents for cynicism and sarcasm. Dealing with negative personality features is difficult, requiring me to chisel away long term personality habits. But outside the hamster wheel of the corporate world, I’m unhinged inside the oncology world and trying my best to write what’s responsible and still reflective of who I really am. Balanced up on a tightrope without a net I’m vulnerable to people in my orbit who may not have good intentions and use this against me or my beloved. Sad. But whatever…that vulnerability stems from my heart.

      I’m so happy to hear from you. I won’t tell you to stay positive or be strong or that you got this. Sometimes we’re none of those things, and it’s perfectly fine, and won’t cost you a day of your life. I’m always here so send email if you want, and I’ll wade through my inbox abc find you, just convo me on Etsy,
      With much love,

  2. I an grateful for the link you included. I was unaware of the number of companies that pinkwash.

    You make powerful observations. This:
    “The disbelief in our illness because we look too good to be so sick creates another paradox. I was told this evening I could work and plenty of people with cancer work.”

    Most people only know about cancer patients who are celebrities. Since they can continue working with cancer, everyone else is suppose to do the same. Most of us do not have cooks, house cleaners, grocery shoppers, chauffeurs, wardrobe assistants, nor secretaries. Just making one call pertaining to our treatments or other issue, such as getting a prescription refilled, can result in spending the rest of the day on the phone until the close of business hours.

    1. And we don’t ask for much either…respect, affordable equitable healthcare, a chance to participate in novel, new treatment options, and hope. We need so much more, but at a minimum the minimization of our illness is just an insulting hammer upon a head that’s been radiated, medicated, and chemically altered. Pinkwashing merely adds to the inept belief that if you buy something pink, you’re doing your part, and if you don’t you’re a big jerk.

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