I hate Pinktober.
I’m relieved to learn I’m not alone in this feeling. When I was diagnosed with cancer, September was spinning into October, and Pinktober was much bigger and more widely accepted than it is now. I felt like I was supposed to get behind “the cause” when all I wanted was to get as far away from “the cause” and anything having to do with cancer as possible.
I painted my room pink when I was a child. I loved pink – flowers for my mother, shirts and toys and my bike.
During and after my diagnosis, I had a visceral reaction to the color. I felt like wearing it would remind me of cancer. I felt like I would be supporting companies that slap a pink ribbon on products that are unhealthy. I chose to wear black, because that’s how I was feeling. Later, as I recovered, I chose to wear bright colors – blue and green and orange – but never pink.
Finally, I calmed down a little and bought a pink sweater. I wore it. It didn’t change me. It didn’t make me get cancer again. It made me feel soft, feminine. And that was progress.
As October comes around again, the month of autumn and falling leaves, the juggernaut of sponsorship and races and pink and fundraising still feels like something I’d rather shut out. I want nothing to do with it, because I don’t believe they have the answer. I wish cancer were a non-factor in the world, something no one worried about and no one had to worry about. I wish it never tore apart another family.
But throwing money down a hole that isn’t getting smaller isn’t the way to go. And supporting companies that make unhealthy products as they “stand behind” cancer patients seems hypocritical and self-defeating. If they took all that money and invested it into removing unhealthy ingredients from their products, that would be progress. If everyone took a little step toward making everyone else a little healthier, that would be progress.
But Pinktober? No. It’s not for me.