Breast cancer is something I’m sure everyone is aware of and Pink Ribbon has been a big reason for creating that awareness. It’s a horrible disease, which unfortunately still can’t be prevented, only diagnosed and treated through chemotherapy, radiation and amputation and still that doesn’t give complete guarantees. It’s a disease which has hit close to home as my grandmother died from it years ago after treatment started too late and it hit even closer to home when my mother was diagnosed with it a couple of months back. Luckily she is a very strong woman and is going through all the steps (having her last chemo two weeks ago and starting radiation soon).
Having heard some negative stories a while ago about the Dutch branch of the Pink Ribbon I was interested in watching this documentary. What happened over here was that the organisation didn’t allow journalists to look into their financial situation and after finally publishing their reports in 2007 it became clear that they actually didn’t spend any of the money they raised themselves on breast cancer research (This dutch website did some calculations). Some of the organisations they worked with even severed their ties with Pink Ribbon. This documentary looks at the company, what they are telling about breast cancer, but also looks at what we currently know about it.
When I look at the Pink Ribbon organisation and the various activities they organise (for example the many runs) I always get the image that breast cancer is something which you can easily survive if you just notice it on time. There’s an air of joy during those events (which I understand as people are trying to raise money for a good cause), but the reality is very different. The Pink Ribbon organisation has made the disease something other companies want to be linked to as it puts them in a positive light. It’s a far stretch from the protest groups which used to demand research into materials and chemicals being used in for example the food or cosmetics industries.
What this documentary did for me is inform me about what it really means to have breast cancer, as it lays out the facts and makes clear that although the idea behind the Pink Ribbon is a good one, the result of their work is that people don’t think further than the name and the cause, but not if anything is really changing. I was expecting the movie to be a bit more investigative about the inner workings of the organisation and would reveal some shocking facts, but there wasn’t anything like that. Still I do think this is a documentary everyone should watch as it doesn’t try to paint a pretty picture of this disease. It interviews people who knows they won’t have long to live anymore and people in the field doing research about it. I hope that in the future the cause of this disease is found instead of fighting the disease when it is already there.