We need you raising hell with us

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By Caitlin Carmody, BCAction Membership Coordinator

Last week I came upon a popular website encouraging pink ribbon promotions for breast cancer. One page caught my eye: “Questions you should ask.” Lo and behold, the questions they’d posted were the critical questions about pink ribbon promotions Breast Cancer Action has been pushing for years, posted with other information copied from our Think Before You Pink® website. I was fuming and stomping around the office: “We have to contact them! They’re using our information without giving us any credit! We have the phrase “Think Before You Pink®” COPYRIGHTED for goodness sake!”

Luckily, my very wise coworker looked me in the eye and brought me back to reality: “We always have to remember what our ultimate goal is: it’s not protecting our copyright or our brand, it’s changing the tide of this epidemic. We should be thrilled that BCAction’s message is so widespread, people don’t even always know it came from us.”

Properly chastened, I reminded myself of the humble beginnings of the Think Before You Pink® campaign. In 2002, BCAction launched a website with critical questions for consumers to ask about pink ribbon promotions, and examples of cause marketing partnerships. We also ran an ad in the New York Times, calling out companies whose pink ribbon promotions did more for company profits than for the breast cancer cause. At the time, this message was new and provocative– no one had ever said “pinkwasher” before, or urged consumers to think before they bought pink.

Nine years later, the “Think Before You Pink®” message has gone mainstream—our “critical questions before you buy pink” are in wide circulation, “pinkwasher” has caught on like wildfire, and women are joining together to hold companies accountable for their breast cancer cause marketing.

We cannot credit this huge momentum and national visibility to a large staff or marketing budget. In 2002, BCAction had a paid staff of 6 and a very lean budget, and the remarkable success of Think Before You Pink® has been entirely grassroots. We’ve achieved so much together because people like you talk to everyone you know during October and beyond about the truth behind pink ribbon marketing.

Fast forward to 2011—BCAction has a paid staff of 9 and a very lean budget (do you see a pattern?) A few months ago, when BCAction’s program team was starting to plan for this year’s Think Before You Pink® campaign, we asked ourselves, “How can we take the campaign to the next level? How can we build on this awesome grassroots momentum?” We have an answer for you, and we hope you will invest in the next phase of this campaign.

We need a national grassroots groundswell to really change the conversation about breast cancer in this country. To do that, activists across the country need resources and information to help your communities learn the truth about pink ribbons and the breast cancer epidemic, and how it connects to the conflicts of interest rampant in the cancer industry.

Enter our brand-new “Think Before You Pink®: A Toolkit for Breast Cancer Activists.” The toolkit is full of resources, information, and tools you need to understand the truth behind pink ribbon marketing, the rampant conflicts of interest in the cancer industry, and why breast cancer rates are not declining—and help others learn about it, too.

Please, help us take Think Before You Pink® to the next level. Join 95 activists across the country who have invested $10 or more in the campaign and received a sneak peek of new toolkit as a thank you. To see the awesome national reach the toolkit already has, click here. If your town isn’t on the map, get it on the map today!

In another 9 years, I want to stomp around the office, furious because the National Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen for the Cure copied all of our material about conflicts of interest, environmental links to breast cancer, and pinkwashing, because so many people raised hell about it. Nine women cannot turn the tide of breast cancer, but 100,000 can. We cannot end this epidemic while pink ribbon marketing remains the status quo of breast cancer activism, and to change the tide of breast cancer activism, we need you raising hell with us.


  1. Sharon DeMedeiros
    Posted June 10, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I am behind you all the way, but unfortunately I am struggling too much financially right now to be able to donate any money. However, I will continue to get the word out here in New Bedford, MA, whenever I can. I commend you all for pioneering the fight for accurate information about what is really going on in the breast cancer world. Goddess only knows how little of that info is known here in my city. Congratulations to you and keep up the good work. Sharon DeMedeiros, 1 year survivor.

  2. Marvella
    Posted June 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    I think you SHOULD contact those who are using your copyrighted slogans & website content. Clearly state on your website your willingness to share content and links, but insist that Breast Cancer Action is credited. Alot of hard work has gone into establishing internet presence & following. It’s great that others are paying attention, however, by not protecting your content, at some point it is likely to become distorted. Yes, we want people to wake up & ‘think before they pink’ but please insist that your copyrights are respected. It will give you back control over your messages while allowing responsible groups to help spread the word. You own it but most importantly you are the custodians who should be overseeing who else is posting your words.

  3. Marvella
    Posted June 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    P.S. I would add your requirement that all quoting your message must provide a direct link to your website. It will increase traffic and expand presence. I want everyone to know what ‘Think Before You Pink’ is all about.

  4. Carl
    Posted June 18, 2011 at 2:52 am | Permalink

    I have been forced into retirement due to brain cancer. I do, and have always supported raising money and awareness for breat cancer research. Maternal grandmother was a survivor.
    I too have limited means for monetarily supporting such organizations. While I would be happy to send a $10 check to support these efforts, I would not be willing to give out my credit card info. Were I contacted by email and given the necessary info I would attend to it today. Carl

  5. Cindy
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    I think it’s silly that you are trying to prove a point and charging to do so. Although you may have a point, I don’t think you will ever get enough support to get anything done because you are no better than they. I would never pay ten dollars to find out a conspiracy theory which is what this feels like. Spread the accurate word because you care about the people, don’t charge them for it.

  6. Posted October 1, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I’m glad your co-worker brought you back to reality, we don’t need another Susan Komen going around suing tiny Ma and Pa charities because they used “for a cure” or “for the cure” because they claim it is their copywrite. They spend way too much money on lawyers when they could be giving it to “Research for the cure.” The cure is more important than squabbling over legal actions that do nothing but leave anger and a bad taste in everyones mouth.

    Julia Ruane-Smith – Breast Cancer Survivor and ex-Susan Komen Supporter

  7. R Anuradha
    Posted October 23, 2011 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Hi Caitlin, I have also raised stink! from India against Promise Me. Now I wish to know which are the products of Indian versions of International brands that have toxic and carcinogenic ingredients. I am a two-time breast cancer survivor for 13 years and also a writer, journalist and cancer activist in New Delhi.

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