Why I'm Resistant To All Things Pink In October
Dr. Judith Rosenbaum, Director of Public History at the Jewish Women's Archive and lead developer of Living the Legacy educational materials, first wrote this piece for Role/Reboot. There you can read the piece in its entirety.
Though I’ve never had breast cancer, I think it’s fair to say the disease has shaped my life. My mother was diagnosed at age 32, when I was 5 years old; she battled the disease for 33 years before dying of her sixth recurrence last December. Four years ago, I learned that I carry the BRCA genetic mutation, and I chose to have two prophylactic surgeries—bilateral mastectomy and the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes—taking drastic action in order to reduce my risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
So one might think I’d spend the month of October festooned with pink ribbons, buying up pink products, marching through the streets in a “Save the Ta-Tas” t-shirt, to raise awareness of this disease that has haunted me for nearly 35 years. But the truth is: I’m emphatically pink-resistant.
“Awareness” is…well, it’s certainly better than ignorance. But it’s so abstract. What kind of awareness does this month really spark? Awareness that women get sick and sometimes lose their breasts? Awareness of breast cancer’s environmental causes? Awareness of the political, racial, and economic inequities that are part of this disease and its treatment? Awareness of the fact that some of the biggest marketers of pink products benefit financially from breast cancer and/or pollute the environment with carcinogenic toxins?