'Pink Isn't Pretty': Breast Cancer Survivor Explains Reality Behind The Pink Ribbon

by Valerie Williams
Originally Published: 
Image via Facebook/Tracie Marie

She’s shedding light on where pink ribbon funds really go

It’s October and that means it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Half the items in your grocery store will be covered in pink ribbons and claims of funds being raised to help women and men fighting this terrible disease, but one woman spoke out about the truth behind all of that pink.

Tracie Marie, a breast cancer survivor, took to Facebook with a post about the pink ribbon that quickly went viral. She details the insidious “fundraising” campaign known as “pinking,” aka, putting pink ribbons on all manner of products along with a promise to donate funds to breast cancer awareness.

Only that’s not exactly how it works.

Along with her words, Tracie shared a photo of herself that shows her double mastectomy scars and the many medications she takes.

She explains how while many people believe breast cancer is “a pink ribbon, a pink Pom Pom, a pen with a pink ribbon, a tote with a pink ribbon, an end cap at your local Walmart engaging you to be a ‘part of the cure,'” the reality is quite different.

She says that by spending money on those items, “you are not being part of the cure, you’re just throwing your money away to propaganda, uniforms for NFL cheerleaders, and kiosk after kiosk with items from handbags to ziplock bags. It’s all a hoax.”

“They are not trying to fight the cure,” she says. “Most of their funding goes to advertisement, 6 figure CEO salaries. And when I asked for help, I wasn’t given any, DENIED. Denied by the very people who claimed they would help me in their ‘advertising.'”

“A pink ribbon isn’t the men and women fighting for their lives with metastatic breast cancer.”

Along with the pinking comes the cute-ifying of breast cancer, all the slogans about fighting like a girl and saving the tatas. Tracie calls it out. “Breast cancer is often very sexualized. Showing models with fake scars, beautiful bodies and breasts with the strap so perfectly dangling from her shoulder,” she says.

“That’s not what breast cancer is.”

She provides a much-needed reality check for anyone who isn’t sure. “It’s CTs, surgeries, amputations, biopsies, MRIs, X-rays, radiation, chemo, IVs, blood tests, fear, worry, hate, anger, confusion, sadness, loneliness, medications, check ups, anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain. It’s so much more than a pink snickers bar because it ‘supports us!'”

She also sets readers straight on where that donation money definitely doesn’t go. “We do not receive free boob jobs. We have reconstruction. Expanders placed to stretch your skin to fit the implants, complications, tram flap surgeries, sometimes our bodies reject the implants, some choose to go flat, some reconstructions are amazing and look fabulous, some look completely deformed.”

“However, in no way did any of us receive a free boob job.”

As far as what Tracie has received since her diagnosis, the list is long — and none of it includes free boobs jobs. She tells Scary Mommy, “I had stage 2B invasive left ductal carcinoma at the 7:00 position of my left breast. I did four rounds of chemo, five surgeries on my chest from mastectomy, and emergency removal of expander due to MRSA. A hysterectomy. Removal of my implants after three years as they made me very sick. Contacted cellulitis that went septic.”

She’s now out of treatment, having been declared “NED,” or “no evidence of disease,” but she still has doctors appointments and blood work several times a year along with counseling, physical therapy and pain management. “Treatment may be over but it never goes away. I will worry with every headache, backache, and chest pain I get. It’s a scary life to live because you never know when you will have it return,” she says.

The organization Think Before You Pink backs up what Tracie says about the pink ribbon not meaning much in the way of real support for people fighting breast cancer. They caution that “any company” can put a pink ribbon on its products and the reasons don’t have to be financial. “The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by any agency and does not necessarily mean it effectively combats the breast cancer epidemic.”

She instead suggests that those wanting to help donate to a different organization called METAvivor, calling it “the best foundation who uses the money for what we need, a cure!” They don’t use any pink ribbons in their fundraising and according to their website, they raise funds and award grants for metastatic cancer research.

Tracie tells us she’s had many survivors and those currently battling breast cancer reach out to her since her post went viral, and she plans to get back to all of them. “I think it’s important that I really read their messages and respond appropriately and in a way that I can help,” she says. “I am helping so many realize the truth about the pink ribbon and how the support it used to mean for us diagnosed with breast cancer is now shadowed by pink dollar signs and lined pockets and it’s not the cancer patients receiving the help.”

She ends her post with a plea to see this disease for what it truly is — and it ain’t cute. “Save the Tatas, save 2nd base, no bra day with a bunch of nipples poking out in no way supports those with Breast Cancer. This is what a lot of cancer really looks like!”

“Pink isn’t pretty, it’s not a ribbon and it definitely doesn’t help us!”

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