It happens like clockwork: starting on October 1st, pink takes over. Pink lights dot the skylines of our cities, athletes don pink gear in games, clothing and jewelry designers offer rosy-hued merchandise — all in the name of increasing awareness about breast cancer.
It’s become increasingly popular to criticize breast cancer awareness peer-to-peer fundraising strategies. A quick search for “breast cancer awareness backlash” turns up 1.8 million results, including articles in notable, well-regarded publications. Critics suggest that pink-drenched campaigns sugarcoat breast cancer, or that slapping a pink ribbon on merchandise is an exploitative way to increase sales.
More concerning are the accusations that some pink products don’t have a connection to a charity at all. Naysayers also tend to point out that even with all this money raised, breast cancer is still without a cure.
As our infographic below shows, these opponents couldn’t be more wrong.
Despite the “pink fatigue,” breast cancer awareness is now more important than ever. The decline in mortality shows the benefit that concerted awareness efforts, and the money that follows them, can bring. And the fact that breast cancer is still without a cure shows that these problems are more intricate and involved than any of us would like to believe.
While breast cancer deaths in the US are declining and the number of nonprofits dedicated to the disease is rising sharply, we’re far from a cure. Worldwide, women are diagnosed with breast cancer far more often than any other type of cancer, with 16.8 million cases diagnosed in 2012. What’s more, according to the American Cancer Society, U.S. cases are actually projected to be higher in 2014 than in 2009.
Although there’s still work to do, it’s important to recognize the leaps that have been made with breast cancer awareness. The fact that we see Breast Cancer Awareness Month as “too much” is progress in and of itself. Forty years ago, sexism and discrimination combined to make this massive killer nearly invisible.
Now that we’ve built a strong foundation and audience for breast cancer awareness, we need to inure our constituents and ourselves against complacency. And to that end, peer-to-peer fundraising organizations will need their fundraising strategies to go beyond “think pink” to creating impactful campaigns that inspire constituents.
More than ever, it’s time to wear our hearts on our sleeves and hold our shovels in hand.