Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pink Town

A recent article in the local newspaper caught my eye; "Fair Haven to Become 'Pink Haven' in April."  This year three of my neighboring towns will be taking part in a campaign known as "Paint The Town Pink". Red Bank, Monmouth Beach and Fairhaven, will all magically morph into Pink Bank, Pink Beach and Pink Haven.  All in aid of, you got it....not research...but breast cancer awareness, prevention and promotion of annual mammography for women.

Most of my regular readers will understand when I say that my first reaction to this news was to  emigrate.  Somewhere far away.  Like Mongolia.  Or Siberia.  Even Antarctica seems like an attractive option.  But would these places be far enough?  Perhaps I can find a spot on an upcoming space mission.

The pink festival will run from April 30 through May 7.  In addition to certain town roads having a pink stripe painted down the middle of them, options for community involvement include:

"...placing a pink piggy bank in a business for donations, window painting contests, pledge contests, or hosting an in-store event during the week.
Residents could also participate through a "Pink Your House" contest where residents would be provided a "Pink Starter Kit" containing lawn signs, flags, and other decorations."
Yes !  Pink your town! Pink your roads! Pink your business! Pink your house!  Show your community that you don't give a crap about other cancers, or other incurable diseases, or anyone else for that matter who might not feel comfortable with all this pinkification.

Then I thought, perhaps it's time I stopped being a snarky cynic.  Maybe it's time to get on board with the breast cancer celebrations and really throw myself into supporting the towns' efforts in raising funds for more breast cancer awareness.  Okay,  so awareness won't ever result in a cure but let's not worry about such trifling matters for now.

So I've come up with an idea.  I'm going to pitch a piece of performance art to each of the towns mayors which will speak to breast cancer awareness.  I hope that they will love it and will allow me to perform it during Breast Cancer Party Week.

Here's what I have in mind.

Sort of like this but with a
cancerous tumor
First I will take a piece of couch foam and a can of spray paint and fashion a large cancerous breast costume for myself.  For some added glamor I will drape myself in a Miss Pink Elegance sash and bedeck my soon-to-be-bald head with a pink rhinestone crown.

Then I will take my breast costumed self to the main street of Pink Haven and I will lie down in the middle of the pink striped road.  It is then that I will give a secret signal to my support team, and I will pretend to be run over by either this cement mixer or this tractor.  Probably the cement mixer for maximum effect.

It is at that point that my support team will summons the police.   The police will take one look at me and immediately call an ambulance.

From there I will be carted off to the Pink Bank hospital.  I will be greeted in the emergency room by the medical staff who, for added enjoyment in the performance art piece, will engage in the "pink glove dance".

Then whilst I am being fake-treated at the hospital we will stage a fire drill.  Someone will summons the local fire department.  All of this staged drama will be caught on camera by the local television station.

Emerging from the hospital in my crumpled foam cancerous breast costume, I will be greeted by the local press corps.  I will proudly and symbolically declare that the town of Pink Bank has successfully crushed breast cancer and I am now a victorious survivor.  Performance art piece complete.

In the evening, I imagine the breast cancer party will continue.  All the town residents will gather in the town square.  There'll be pink confetti.  Pink ticker tape.  Pink balloons.  Pink t-shirts. And pink feather boas for all.

And with any luck Susan G Komen for the Cure ® will also show up in Pink Bank,  just like they did for the 2009 Paint Your Town Pink event in Charlotte, North Carolina.  As the local newspaper proudly declared;
Paint the Town Pink bar crawl for Susan G. Komen
Pony up $5 at a participating bar this Friday (full list of locations at and you'll get a special pink cup that you can carry with you all night long to 12 different bars - present it and you'll get a deal on drinks and the proceeds from the cups will go to the Susan G. Komen...
This is genius. Pink Bank is known for its bar scene and what better way to raise awareness for breast cancer and money for the cause by engaging in some altruistic binge drinking.

Now I know the American Cancer Society wants to get all serious and rain on our pink parade by putting out blurb like this:

"The use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Compared with non-drinkers, women who consume 1 alcoholic drink a day have a very small increase in risk. Those who have 2 to 5 drinks daily have about 1½ times the risk of women who drink no alcohol. Excessive alcohol use is also known to increase the risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and liver. The American Cancer Society recommends that women limit their consumption of alcohol to no more than one drink a day."

And even Susan G Komen for the Cure®'s website which has a whole section on "Drinking Alcohol" ,  gets in on the depressing act and declares ..."Alcohol may increase breast cancer risk in several ways."

To the pink party-poopers of this world, statements like these might imply that perhaps one should exercise caution in engaging in excessive partying with alcohol.  Even if it is "for the Cure".  But who cares?  It's all just a bit of fun, and it's for a good cause, right?

Anyway once the celebrations are over, and all those pink ribbons, balloons and pink boas have been discarded and the townsfolk have headed home with bleary pink eyes, and a blood alcohol limit that may increase their  risk for breast cancer, the towns' sanitation crews will move in for the cleanup.

I will go home, satisfied and happy with the knowledge that today I helped raise awareness for breast cancer.  The next morning I will sadly discard my cancerous breast costume and take down all that pink bunting and pink ribbons bedazzling my house.  All that is left is for me to do is take out the garbage.

The breast cancer party is over.  At least until October rolls around.


  1. Your snark is delicious. This campaign? Not so much. Absolutely revolting. What fund will the donations benefit? Who's supervising? What a waste of time, energy, and altruism.

    Keep complaining; I'm with you.


  2. Oh, Anna. I really think the superficiality of these campaigns fall beneath the radar because they so easily fall into the background. But when you put a bunch of them in one place like this (and I know there are thousands more examples), this narrow brand of "awareness" can be seen for what it is: a waste of precious resources.

    If your play is accepted, I'd be honored to be part of your support team! I'll put on some pink driving gloves and speed my way over to the east coast in a pink racing car to come to your rescue. I might get a pink ticket for speeding on the way, but that's okay. It's for a good cause.

    P.S. You've got me thinking. Maybe laughter IS the best medicine.

  3. Anna, I don't even know what to say! Amazing isn't it, all the attention pink can bring. Again, I don't mind the pink, I just want more with it. Maybe you should do something crazy??? Have you thought about writing a letter to the editor of your local paper?? Of course, you'd probably have to tone down your rant just a bit! Or maybe not!

  4. Snark makes me feel so much better. You know I tried to trace where this campaign originates. It seems its happening all over the U.S from what I can make out. I found one town's brochure which had this very fine print:

    "Paint the Town Pink is a registered trademark of Breast Cancer Network of Strength and is being used under license."

    Breast Cancer Network of Strength is now known as the Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization (, but I can't find any reference to Paint the Town Pink on their website. I also ran a quick trademark search and I couldn't find anything.

    I think what is happening, is that someone holds a licence for PYTP. Towns/or other organizations like hospitals, then pay a license fee to someone to use the brand, and I guess they get all the PYTP materials and kits from the licensor. Then the towns/orgs use whatever money they raise, presumably after deducting the PYTP expenses, to fund local breast cancer initiatives. In my towns case the beneficiary seems to be early detection, education and awareness programs run by the local hospital.

    But I agree with you exactly. Waste of time, energy and resource. But also such an EXclusive event which quite frankly embarrasses the hell out of me.

    And at the end of the day, how is this helping in the fight to end breast cancer? Let alone all the other cancers. Awareness DOES NOT EQUAL cure. And it certainly doesn't help anybody dealing with advanced disease. Research people research !

  5. Perhaps my bit of performance art will be reported in the "pink" newspaper......

    But yes, it's all starting to feel quite ridiculous isn't it. And it would be hilarious if it weren't so damn tragic.

    Where's the research????

  6. Length alert! Wow, Anna you have done it again. I had not heard of Paint the Town Pink. I'm all for your costume-perhaps a few scars too?

    Conflicting feelings-I hate to tell people how they should feel about something or support something, but I think we can all agree "Drink for Pink" is pretty stupid. I decided against getting involved with (Pub) Crawl for Cancer in Omaha for that reason. I am supporting an art bra event in Kansas City though, for a friend very dear to me who reminds me of you.

    Personally, I feel it's ridiculous to have pink Tic-Tacs, garbage bins and pink Frito bags. I remember when I was first diagnosed & the grocery store had little donation boxes at every checkout stand and I wondered if that meant I could take money out now. "Thanks--you shouldn't have!"

    I agree with you wholeheartedly that we need to support RESEARCH and I will do what I can to support that. If you don't know about awareness and screenings you've been living under a rock.

    That said,I have to admit I'm a fan of the Pink Glove Dance. I think they're sweet.

    Love you!

  7. Anna - I am puking pink right now, just from reading what "Pink Haven" has in store. The irony is that all this "pink waving" campaign of awareness is exploitation and ignorance. Exploitation on the part of the orgs, companies, and retailers that turn a profit from the merchandizing; and ignorance on the part of well-meanig individuals who join the fray without asking the key questions: WHOSE CAUSE IS THIS TRULY SERVING? HOW IS AWARENESS OF A WELL-KNOWN AND INCREASINGLY PREVALENT DISEASE TRANSLATING INTO TANGIBLE STEPS TOWARD FINDING A CURE? WHY, DESPITE THE ONGOING PINK PARADES, ARE MORE WOMEN BEING AFFECTED BY BREAST CANCER? WHY IS BREAST CANCER SUCH A LUCRATIVE NICHE INDUSTRY? WHY IS IT THAT THE SAME COMPANIES THAT FUND TRIALS FOR "NEW CURES" SIMULATANEOUSLY PRODUCE PRODUCTS WITH KNOWN CARCINOGENS? I could go on, but I think I made my point. Anna, I applaud you fighting the "Pink Beast" in whichever way you can/choose. I believe that the Pink Beast truly does more harm, has a palpable chilling effect on a real discussion, and detrimentally distracts people from asking the truly critical questions about the epidemic of breast cancer.

  8. Sarah-see my response below as to the mechanics of the fundraising. Well my theory anyway.

    Gayle-I think there is a clear patter emerging here. Also will you be racing over in a Pink Chevy Mammaro?

    Nancy-letters to the editor? My mother-in-law is on the case and the last I heard was going to be staging a sit-in at the mayors office in protest. I of course will keep blogging.

    Jacks - thanks for stopping by. There are so many reasons that I feel uncomfortable about pink events like these. Aside from the waste of resources, and aside from the misguided priorities, imagine the guy down the street who has brain cancer, or the woman who has ovarian cancer, or the kid with leukemia etc. How are they and their loved ones feeling when their towns do everything to promote breast cancer AWARENESS for an entire week in a pink party-like atmosphere? The whole sad spectacle troubles me no end.

    TC-Nice to "see" you. Your comment is right on the mark. Your questions, so neatly and passionately articulated, are ongoing themes that I continue to address in this blog any which way I can. Pink has created a culture that causes people to feel afraid to ask the deeper questions. But as THE most important stakeholders in the fight to end this disease, we reserve every right to keep questioning until real progress is made.

  9. Sign me up for the support team too!

    Ovarian Cancer has a "Turn the Town Teal" campaign which consists only of teal ribbons on lampposts. I've heard that there is good response from it-- in the "Huh, never knew anything about that" way.

    I "follow" a certain cancer center on Facebook that promotes a Paint the Town production in the town where it is located. I commented something about not forgetting other cancers etc. and got a nastygram from them-- I'm still pissed off by it.

  10. I just laughed so hard I snorted. Love the cancerous tumor costume. That's totally what I want to be for Halloween next year.

  11. Bwaaaaaaaahaaaa! Snarky is hysterical. Maybe laughter is the best medicine.

    Feeling a little sick at the idea of all that pink myself, but Pepto, I guess, is not the answer...

  12. BAHAHAHAH!!! Anna, I think you and I must be biological sisters. Maybe one or both of us was adopted, and no one told us...

    Snark is my middle name, as you know. Count me in!! You know I'll be right there with ya, ramping up the pink farce. I can even envision TV spots on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and maybe some nice articles in The Onion and Bitch Magazine. I'll get to work on the media blitz angle...

    Together, we can make pink sorry it was ever born!!


  13. definitely too much pink, although obviously awareness is very important.

    maybe we could find a more subtle way to raise breast cancer awareness?

  14. Anna,

    Loved your brilliantly sarcastic post. You were being facetious, right? Just kidding, of course.

    You are so right and so on the mark with this. The whole pink thing makes me feel mighty blue.

    I think to change things up a bit, we should have a magenta campaign, still fem, still related to pink, and can still make a statement that breast cancer is still fun and worth partying about.

    Seriously, your post sheds light on an important issue. Funding should go toward research, research, research.

    Thank you for continuing to post thought-provoking postings. The only good Pink is the singer.

  15. Unbelievable! I'd not heard of this pink town thing. I just feel deeply weary about this.... it doesn't change anything. Awareness? Tell me who doesn't know about breast cancer?

    And, as usual, with your rants we get the message, but have a few laughs along the way. Thank you.

  16. You are too funny! I love how you approach this with a sense of humor. OMG, I thought we were safe until October! Your blog post reminds me to retain my sense of humor. I follow you on Twitter.

    I'm a 47-year-old who's been living with stage IV breast cancer for three years. I also have a blog, It's not as funny as yours, but it is inspirational. Hope you stop by.

  17. Thanks for writing this, Anna. It's perfect!

  18. What an awesome blog!! i am a 34 year old survior! 2 years strong! I amin search of paint the town pink ideas or at least a step in the right direction...LOVE THE BOOBIE costume idea!

    ;) amanda

  19. Better late than never!! Anna, you rock. I'd be honored to be a part of your crew if you ever take this show on the road. Hmmm, would there be a way to get this on youtube? If any body could do it you could! While the participants in the Pink Glove Dance are well intentioned,I'm always struck by the OR scene. Do you suppose someone with prostate cancer would appreciate a happy BLUE glove dance around their OR? Keep up the good work and let's consider painting the town Pepto Bismal. If you start feeling nauseous, you could just drink some!

  20. I cant believe that everyone is bitching about painting the town pink. Who cares ? If it offends or bothers anyone just stay away. In the crappy ass world we live in today where decency, morals, respect, compassion, caring for others and the willingness to help others is slowly but steadily fading away, It seems to me that all the people complaining would be grateful that there is still people out there that gives two shits about someone besides their self and grateful these people are willing to take time out of their own life to try to do something to help others. I understand anyone being upset if raised funds are being misused. I don't blame you. Im sure most participants come be a part of these events with the best intentions and only trying to help. So in all the rantings maybe one of you could at least acknowledge that for a sec and act like you have some appreciation for the fact their trying to help even thou im sure some of them for the moment have no tie to breast cancer at all. Also, if people don't like how funds are being used maybe they should get up off their butts and off the blogs and start a fund raiser and then use the funds how they see fit. And as far as all the other cancers go and how they feel when a breast cancer event is taking place, I wonder how the wounded warriors feel, or the blind and what about the people with autism or Alzheimer's ? Really ? Your concerned with that but yet not the least little bit concerned about the feelings of all the people that actually had good intensions and has been trashed, made fun of and put down in this blog. You cant give to and help every cause you gotta pick something and every has the oppritunity to get a great fund raiser going for what ever cause they feel strongly about. Should they just stop raising money for one till all the others catch up just to make sure nobody gets feelings hurt ? It will never be equal but maybe if the people so worried that its not would get up and do something about it, maybe it would get close. But probably not with the kind of gratitude that's been shown here. You shouldn't badmouth the efforts of other when they don't have to be doing anything at all . Just think, all this time spent blogging and bitching could have been spent organizing and getting a fund raiser going that was proper in the eyes of the ungrateful.


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