Strategies for navigating your creative journey

My Response To “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a Scam”

I enjoy scrolling through Thought Catalog, perhaps searching for something to use as inspiration for my own writing, but mainly to keep my mind occupied. Having an “article” on a screen looks better than a Facebook timeline. It makes me feel a little less uninformed about life. Barely.

After 5 minutes of scrolling past the barrage of “Top 10  ___ every 20 something HAS to ___ before they die” posts, (written by 29 year olds) I saw one titled “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a Marketing Scam.”

Here is a summary of the writer’s argument.

  • While The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation raises hundreds of millions of dollars every year, only a small portion actually goes into funding research and scholarships while the majority of the earnings go into marketing, partnering with larger, more influential corporations, and straight into the pockets of the head honchos over at these companies. (no percentage or data provided)
  • The whole month is a “Cause Marketing” scam. Non- profits partnering with big brands like the NFL, Yoplait, and 5 Hour Energy… etc etc, bringing in money for both parties while expanding their reach across multiple demographics.
  • Taglines like “Save the Tatas!” or “Love Boobies!” has sexualized Breast Cancer.

I get it. In order to make money, you need to spend it. And some of the money coming in will have to go to covering base spending costs. But to say that the entire campaign is a scam and that you shouldn’t donate to the cause is a joke.

Because in the very same year that this author was pulling “data” from (2010), researchers found a DNA repair process that may lower risk of cancer in BRCA1 patients, created new technologies for early detection, and concluded that in early detection cases, lymph node dissection may never be needed again with the rise of whole-breast radiotherapy. We continue to make strides towards less invasive, less painful, and more efficient forms of treatment. Lives are being saved. My money probably isn’t going directly into the lab. But if me buying a pink pack of 5 Hour Energies is going to help fund an organization that has the means of spreading awareness and the platform needed to promote early breast cancer detection, I’m okay with that. Until researchers tell us “hey… we got nothing,” I will continue to believe that we are helping out the greater cause.

Now, onto the pink.

It’s everywhere! On our football fields, food packaging, in our commercials. October is every seven year old girl’s dream birthday party. And while you might hate it, not understand it, or roll your eyes when a 6 foot 6 linebacker dons a pair of pink Nike’s during a football game, guess who absolutely LOVES IT?!

My Mom. A 2-time breast cancer survivor.

She fist pumped and let out a “yeah!” the other night after a “Think Pink” commercial came on the TV. It caught me off guard. Old Asian women don’t fist pump. I looked over at her, her eyes glued to the TV. She had the faintest grin on her face.

You see, to anyone who has survived breast cancer, lost a loved one to breast cancer, or is battling breast cancer right now, this month is about courage. Hope. Life. This is us saying, We’re with you. Don’t give up. And we will find a way to end this.

When you say “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a Marketing Scam” you are telling my mother that losing both her breasts was pointless. You are mocking the scarf that covered her perfectly sculpted head for 4 months and you are throwing around dollar amounts, bottom lines, and profit share when the only numbers that her world depended on every day for 2 periods of her life were white blood cell count, how many strands of hair she had, and how many more days she had to have the tube that ran inside her body from her armpit to her chest. And while you babble about how “Save second base!” bracelets and “Love boobies” merchandise is sexualizing breast cancer, my Mom will continue to joke about having “fake boobs,” brag about having a tattoo (a small dot indicating where the chemo would be injected into her body) before me, and smile when she sees shirts, bracelets, and stickers with boob related messages. Because making boob jokes helped her escape the pain. Being able to joke about boobs and smile while bedridden, looking down at a chest without them, is a powerful thing. Post chemo symptoms include heightened sensitivity to smell and heat. Not boob jokes.

When you say “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a Marketing Scam,” you are mocking researchers. You are telling doctors that their work doesn’t matter. You are telling patients that their lives aren’t worth it.

When you say “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is A Marketing Scam,” you obviously have not experienced it. Your privilege is showing. You are the reason why information like this has to be streamlined to your mobile device via the mass media and major corporations.

So on behalf of my mother, other breast cancer survivors, those who are currently fighting for their lives, and those who have lost someone due to  it, I say this.

Breast Cancer Awareness month is everything.

Check your boobs.

Live Inspired.


The Breast Cancer Research Foundation


5 Responses to “My Response To “Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a Scam””

  1. Brie Ripley

    This is great, Amir! Well-written, informative, and passionate! Thanks for sharing your perspective. Your composition style reads really well and I always enjoy your personal narratives.

  2. royazahed

    Why are you so damn good at writing? Super proud to pass this along to friend who then passed it along to their friends. Spreading like wildfire.

  3. Josh Chen

    Great article Amir. Meaningful and moving. Really neat to see your writing – stumbled across this via FB…


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