How could anybody be mad about pink? That's the question I first asked myself when I heard of the debate within the breast cancer community over whether the ribbon might be doing more harm than good. (Read Saturday's column if you haven't already)
If you're confused too, here's the cliff notes version of this ongoing saga:
Everybody knows the pink ribbon has come to represent breast cancer awareness. A woman who loved pink named Susan Goodman Komen died of the disease at just 36 in 1980. Her sister, Nancy Brinker, started a foundation in her name and the pink ribbon was born.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure is now one of the best known charities in the country. But there are many organizations dedicated to detecting, treating and curing breast cancer. And not all of them agree.
The main debate centers on the over-diagnosis of breast cancer and what some say are statistics manipulated by the Komen group to lead women to believe that mammograms are the key to saving lives.
Writer Peggy Orenstein wrote an excellent piece called "Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer." Peggy is a breast cancer survivor and asks whether "awareness has become more important than saving lives?"
Author and sociologist Gayle Sulik wrote a book called "Pink Ribbon Blues" and keeps a really lively blog by the same name about the topic.
"The harms are partly that the awareness itself has been redefined as visibility for the sake of visibility [and] fundraising," Sulik has said. "A deep awareness of the realities of breast cancer and where we really are in that war on breast cancer has gotten lost in that."
The National Breast Cancer Coalition has also rebelled against pink. The group is demanding a pathway to curing the disease that kills about 40,000 women and men each year and has set a deadline of 2020. The tag line? "Toss aside awareness, comfortable and good enough."
As a consumer, I know one of my main concerns is whether when I buy stuff with the ribbon if my money is really going to help find a cure. (Like the eggs I mentioned in today's column. Yes, apparently even eggs are waging the fight against cancer.)
The pink ribbon is so common now that it can be tough to tell where the genuine heartfelt efforts end and the over-commercialization begins.
I talked about this with Stefanie Steele, executive director of Susan G. Komen Central Florida.
She's heard the sentiments of pink fatigue, but credits the ribbon with helping pave the way for new breast cancer treatments.
"The color pink helped us get to where we are today," she told me. "To me, there can never be too much pink."
On Sunday an estimated 8,000 people turned out to UCF for the 17th Komen Race for the Cure in Central Florida. This year women are encouraged to run in pink tutus.
Cute, right? But is it helping to cure cancer? Fighting cancer is not as easy as putting on a pink scarf and going to a party.
Steele says the need in Central Florida is great. She says 75 percent of the money raised in Central Florida stays here and helps fund grants at local hospitals as well as provide financial support to women who are undergoing treatment and can't pay their bills while they're out of work.
She also has some good advice for your next pink ribbon purchase. If a product doesn't include the name of a specific charity that could be a red flag. Most charities insist on contracts that require their names to be somewhere on the product or packaging. Without that, who knows where your money is going.
Keep in mind, though, that the need for awareness and research for other cancers is just as great. But livers, colons, ovaries and lungs just aren't as fun to hype about as breasts. So many, many families suffer in silence without anyone partying for their cure.
Saturday's column also points out the lack of attention other cancers get compared to breast cancer, especially other gynecological cancers like ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida has some great resources with more information.
More questions? Comments? As usual, use the space below.
Update: This post incorrectly said Gayle Sulik is a breast cancer survivor and has been corrected.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun