Buying a bottle of fingernail polish or a pair of jeans will not create a cure. First of all, the companies that advertise that they donate a portion of sales from their pink ribbon products put a cap on those donations. So, not every purchase funds research. In addition, some of those items are more expensive than the identical, but non-pink ones. This means that consumers and not the corporations are actually making the "donation." Lastly, the monies that do go to research, go to companies that are developing more treatments (i.e., chemotherapy) and will make a very tidy profit from those treatments. And even if these companies did find a cure, wouldn't it be better if we discovered how to prevent breast cancer in the first place?
Looking around the modern world, one need not venture beyond one's own home to discover a plethora of carcinogens. The awareness we need is to learn that carcinogen means "cancer causing." So much of our food and possessions are either created with carcinogenic chemicals or contain them. For example, parabens have been found in the tissue of 99% of breast cancer victims. Parabens are found in antiperspirants, fingernail polish, and other personal care and cosmetic products. Growth hormones given to cows, and thus transmitted through the beef we eat and the milk we drink, have also been linked to breast cancer. Various studies throughout the years have linked BPA, pesticides, aspartame, and other chemicals to breast cancer. Yet these carcinogenic products still remain on the market. In the European Union, over 1300 chemicals have been banned. In the US, the FDA has banned 11. (Check out the Organic Consumers Association and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to learn more. This article by Nicholas Kristof, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is very telling.)
I resent it when organizations such as the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen for the Cure continue to call early detection "prevention" - it's not prevention once someone has the disease, no matter how early you detect it. And early detection has skewed the survival statistics. Finding breast cancer earlier than in past decades means individuals are aware of the disease for a longer period of time. Thus, even if they do not survive the disease, because it was detected earlier, it appears as if the survival rates have increased.
There is money to be made on breast cancer. Moving beyond awareness - and the search for more of the same type of treatment - would mean identifying and removing from our environment the products that trigger the cancer in the first place. The problem is, there is no profit in that. I think we would give more honor to victims of breast and other cancers by focusing on prevention rather than by buying a pink product. The awareness we need, is awareness of what is really happening behind the ribbons. And maybe what we really need is "Carcinogen Awareness Month."