Today’s post is by my partner Ronnie Hughes. Ronnie’s guest post last month about being my carer throughout breast cancer treatment was extremely well viewed and resonated very deeply for many people.
Here Ronnie gets into a political persona to discuss the subject of ‘pink’.
“The United States may not have much of a healthcare system (Hello, American readers) compared to our NHS. But you are brilliant at some things, like music and TV. In fact, for the last couple of years, having finished The Sopranos, Sarah and I have been working our way through the magnificent ‘The West Wing’, really feeling like we know all the major, fictional White House characters. Particularly admiring ace political Democrat strategist Josh Lyman.
After watching an episode a while back, Sarah turned to me and said, ‘You know all this pink stuff, what would Josh make of it?’ And in full-on Josh mode I replied ‘It’s not wrong, it’s just not right enough.’
‘Think about it.’ Staying in Josh mode, bear with me here, ‘Well obviously all the pink products are junk. But what we see here with all this pink activity is both needs and opportunities.’
‘The need to do something, to combine, to help, to empathise. To be with other breast cancer patients, or their carers, or their friends and family. People like you. The need to feel you can contribute something towards sorting this disease out. And the need to celebrate sometimes, all together.’
‘And opportunities? Not such a long list here. Sure, pink provides opportunities for some people and charities to raise money. And for others to simply make profits. It provides an annual PR opportunity for talking and, yes, blogging about breast cancer. But mostly what we see in all this pink stuff, is a great big missed opportunity.’
‘Because these are good people, mostly. All these people wearing pink to the office, racing for life, and so on. Sure, there’s the odd shyster, like you get everywhere. But what we have here is a great mass of humanity wanting to do good.’
‘And this is the great missed opportunity. Because, except for the fun and togetherness of isolated moments, all this pink stuff isn’t really doing any good at all. Sometimes as much as half of the cash raised just goes on the running costs of the charities, on PR and people’s careers. And what makes it through to ‘research’ is having no discernible effect on diagnosis or survival figures.’
‘So, pink, not wrong but not right enough. What could make it right?’
‘Well, in a way, what we have here is a movement in search of a mission. In fact, most of the people involved in pink probably think they’re already on that mission – to end breast cancer. But they’re not. The Pink movement thing has cleverly folded them all into the cancer industry, into the drug companies supply chain, and into maintaining the political fiction that ‘We’ve got breast cancer sorted.’
‘But of course we haven’t. It’s a world-wide epidemic now. An epidemic with a world-wide ‘pink’ audience – with energy to share, with energy to burn.’
‘So just imagine. What if that energy were to turn? Into mass questions and into mass demands. About exactly where the pink money is going and about exactly what good it’s all doing? Demanding, for example, that significant amounts of money and political energy go into prevention. Into finding out exactly what is going on, on this planet, to cause so much disease?’
‘If all that energy, all that pink energy, were to turn, then questions would have to be answered. And big, world-changing answers would have to be found. Then ‘pink’ would be right enough.'”