Skip to Content

We Cannot Shop Our Way Out of Breast Cancer

We cannot shop our way out of breast cancer. Nope. If only, right?

Do you ever wonder what new pink gizmo or pink gadget is coming down the pink pipeline next? Do you sometimes think you’ve seen it all or worse yet, know full well you haven’t? Do you cringe at the bizarreness of it all, or have you grown so accustomed to the pink shopping frenzy that is now part of October you hardly notice anymore, but instead just roll your eyes and wait for November?

I guess I do both. Sometimes I cringe. Sometimes I ignore.

No doubt about it, shopping and breast cancer awareness month have become inseparably intertwined and I’ve yet to figure out why this is okay with so many people.

Why is breast cancer the shopping disease anyway?

Why has no other disease been so literally tied up with ribbons and shopping?

I don’t know about you, but I’m not much of a shopper. Generally, I just hit the malls when I want or need something for myself or someone else. I can’t remember the last time I went window shopping.

More and more these days I shop online. Maybe not being a shopping enthusiast is one more reason all the shopping nonsense that is associated with breast cancer awareness month annoys me and seems just plain bizarre at times.

I realize many women and men, too, do enjoy shopping and that’s great. Shopping is a way to reward yourself when you’ve reached a goal. Some people shop to cheer themselves up when they feel down. Others just happen to love looking for that perfect item for themselves or someone else. Quite a few it seems love sales, and I imagine there are a whole host of other reasons why people love to shop.

But one thing is for sure, we are never going to shop our way out of breast cancer.

To grab a copy of my FREE ebook, Pink Is Just a Color, Ribbons Are Just Ribbons: A collection of writings about Pinktober shenanigans, Click Here.

Buying a pink-handled hammer, pink-colored trash can, pink bag of potato chips, pink mixing bowl set, or any other sort of pink paraphernalia is probably not going to do a whole lot to help prevent, better treat or cure breast cancer; nor will biting into that doughnut or pink ribbon shaped cookie with pink icing and pink sprinkles on top.

It might very well help improve some business owner’s bottom line as well as his/her perceived image, but shopping our way out of breast cancer…

That’s not gonna happen.

No matter how you feel about shopping, doesn’t “pink shopping” feel rather forced, insincere and therefore more than a bit unappealing anyway?

It does to me. And shopping for things that were never intended to be pink in the first place just seems weird and more than a bit forced.

Besides how much pink stuff can the average person eat, drink, wear or use? 

I would never tell anyone not to buy something with a pink ribbon on it, but I would and do tell people all the time not to buy something just because it has a pink ribbon on it.

Big difference.

No matter how you feel about October shopping of the non-Halloween variety, I think it’s safe to say, we cannot shop our way out of breast cancer.

I’ve shared the words of the late Barbara Brenner before and I’ll more than likely share them again because they are worthy of repetition:

If breast cancer could be cured by shopping, it would be cured by now.

Amen to that.

Do you ever buy pink or pink ribbon products, or do you refuse to?

Do you cringe or do you ignore and wait for November?

Why do you think breast cancer morphed into the shopping disease?

Get weekly updates from Nancy’s Point. Keeping it real. Support you can use.

We Cannot Shop Our Way Out of Breast Cancer #breastcancer #Pinktober #breastcancerawarenessmonth


Wednesday 17th of October 2018

How do all you ladies stay so positive. I am almost finishing year 2. Taking antidepressants antianxiety, antiestrigen. Trying to feel better again. I would like some tips on that and maybe some of that money going to breast cancer research to go to something that will help me and all the others who are worried about it coming back. Morning I woke up with a stomach ache. Going to rehab for pt it's over soon what will take its place. The people I have been working with became my support group. My other friends flew the koop.

Beverly Goley Nicholson

Wednesday 17th of October 2018

I understand how one can be angry with the individuals that sell merchandise for breast cancer awareness and it the profits don’t go to help fund any research or struggling families. I’ve gone through stage 3C breast cancer and all that goes with it over the last 18 months. Our town does Pink Out for Hope every October and it truly brings our community together and the proceeds go to help fund local families that are going through breast cancer ends some goes to research organizations that have been verified to be the ones using the money appropriately. I’m not offended by the use of the pink ribbon, I think it increases awareness. However, as with anything else, you have people that glamorize and take advantage. I personally use it as a means of increase awareness and educate our community and surrounding communities of breast cancer and all things that goes along with treatments, diagnosis, dense breast tissue, and the life after chemo. I think if someone is offended by the pink ribbon it’stgeir prerogative but not everyone is. I’m proud to be a survivor and I’m proud to have the pink ribbon. If my cancer comes back I will still like the pink ribbon and be proud to be surviving and thriving. It’s more about awareness you just have organizations that have abused it. Most level headed human being know that cancer sucks and that breast cancer is more than pink.


Thursday 18th of October 2018

Beverly, I'm glad your community's approach seems to be working and that funds raised are being used locally. That is great. I agree, it's more the exploitation of the pink ribbon and breast cancer itself to sell stuff. I just can't figure out how bc got to be the shopping disease anyway. I'm not offended by the pink ribbon. I'm just concerned about the exploitation. And I'm not sure it increases awareness of the right things. I mean, pretty much everyone in the US is aware of bc, but not of the fact that 41,000 women and men still die from bc. That's so unacceptable to me after all these years of supposedly increasing awareness. Quite a failure in my book. Thank you for sharing your views on this post. Appreciate it.


Sunday 5th of March 2017

I stumbled on your post as I was researching info about loss of a parent, another or your posts. (BTW, I didn't "lose" my father. He died.)

At any rate, about shopping all the pink stuff that's supposed to be for cancer: Yes, I refuse to purchase anything that's "pink for cancer". Why? Because very little if any of the proceeds go to the people who really need it---those with cancer. Nor do many 'proceeds' actually end up in the coffers of research.

Yes, cancer has touched several in my family as well as some very very close friends. I wish all this crazy 'shopping for cancer' stuff would go away. I wish that we as a nation could explore more alternative medicines (instead of 'traditional' things such as chemo, radiation, surgery). I wish that the "working for a cure" could become "We've found a cure"...... Lots of wishes.....

I'm much more apt to go to/donate to a private fundraiser for someone in our local community who needs help with bills incurred because of cancer (eg. paying medical bills, paying everyday bills such as electricity, car payments, etc.) than give to big marketing campaigns (eg. Komen) where we have little if any factual knowledge of how the funds are distributed and used.

BTW, your post about the death of a parent in our own adulthood, really helped me. It's been only a bit longer than a month since my father's death. Thank you very much for that post.


Tuesday 28th of October 2014

I try to avoid the pink crap. If something I want has a pink ribbon or is pink, I might buy that. But I'm not going to buy something just because it has a pink ribbon. And I won't do a thing that supports Komen, as they're the ultimate pinkwashers.

I'm going to guess that as breast cancer primarily affects women, organizations have appealed to their stereotypical enjoyment of shopping and merged the two.


Tuesday 28th of October 2014

Danielle, I don't know about you, but it seems like I've been seeing a little less of the pink stuff in stores. Then again, maybe I haven't been shopping much this month. I agree with you about Komen. And yes, the stereotyping is to blame, but only partly. There's plenty of blame to go around. Thanks for reading and sharing some thoughts.

Cancer Curmudgeon

Saturday 25th of October 2014

When I worked retail in the 90s, donating at point of sale was presented as a great way to raise money while people already had their wallets open. From a business and non-profit POV it probably seemed like such a great idea, to make it easier for people to donate rather than having to "remember" to respond to say a mailing, to take special time out of the the day and go through the process of specifically donating to a cause. But while making it "easy" for everyone, everyone got lazy. Everyone assumes every item with a ribbon on it all this money is going to the "cause" and we are all benefiting--and that is not true. No one bothers to look beyond the purchase. So now we are left in a world in which everyone thinks all is going well, aren't breast cancer patients so lucky, because, hey that ribbon is everywhere!


Sunday 26th of October 2014

CC, I think you're exactly right. The pink ribbon has been so easy to use and ultimately misuse and now we are paying the price. Your last sentence says it all. Thank you for your thoughtful insights.

%d bloggers like this: