I started posting a response to Sara and Lance's comments on the previous entry, but it got a bit long, so I thought I would make a separate entry.
Warm thanks to Sara and Lance for generously sharing their stories, and for posting their responses. Both comments raise really important issues.
Sara raises the question of other diseases that don't attract a fraction of the funding that breast cancer organisations have been able to mobilise. I'm very sympathetic to this point, and can see that from the point of view of many other cancers and other diseases, it might seem ungracious to criticise some aspects of breast cancer publicity.
Lance's comment is very heartfelt; and I honour his tribute to the women in his family who have died, or struggled with, or who live in the shadow of breast cancer.
I would comment that lots of these commercial promotions add only a tiny proportion of their sales to breast cancer research. Those interested to know more might want to check out the link to Breast Cancer Action on the side-bar.
But of course, when someone is wholeheartedly involved in fund-raising, I can see how my response might seem to undermine that cause. I didn't intend my remarks to "white-ant" those efforts (and tried to say in my essay that there were many wonderful aspects to pink October); but I am concerned about the way many of these promotions are capitalising on a very narrow understanding of women's concerns.
Of course, the ideal solution would be adequate government funding for research, care and awareness of many more diseases, supported by an equitable tax system. I think a lot of people find it disturbing to think of diseases competing with each other for a limited market share of public support.
I should say that most of the responses I've had to my essay, both on the blog, and in emails, have shared my concerns. Many people comment that they prefer to make donations, and don't expect to be "buying" products in return. And that was the way I was brought up, too.
Lance suggests I get involved in the Cancer Council Arts Awards. I must admit, I didn't know about them: I will try and find out more about this. When I was first diagnosed, one of my first impulses was to get involved in some kind of support group, to help other women with fewer social and economic resources than I enjoy. But the advice I read said, "you need to go through your own treatment and journey before you can help others". I've hoped my blog might be some kind of help.
Thanks again to all who've responded, by blog, by email, and by phone. These are difficult issues indeed.