October just wrapped up Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and you could easily find its signature pink color practically everywhere you turned. Here’s only a few examples of where I spotted the pink ribbons and the pink theme this past month. Cereal boxes, soup, popcorn and probably a dozen other items I could list if I looked more carefully in our family’s food pantry. Then there was the pink invasion in pro sports and in the media as well.
Just about every football players in any Sunday NFL game you turned on TV as well as many baseball players in the MLB playoffs were all touting pink shoelaces and gloves.
If the color pink wasn’t found on the field, then they undoubtedly had a special hat made up with their team logo accented in pink or wore the “classic” pink ribbon pin during a key press moment either pre or post game. It had almost seemed as if you didn’t join the “in” crowd and wear a pink ribbon on whatever you’re wearing, you’d be left out as not supporting breast cancer awareness.
This is all a good thing, I can’t stress this enough. Breast Cancer Awareness is “on the ball” getting their message out BIG TIME and only gaining momentum year after year.
Hmmm…. How are they doing it and how can stroke awareness go BIG TIME too ?
I researched the origins of the pink awareness effort for breast cancer because I wanted to try to model their success to gain better awareness for stroke. As you know if you are reading this from my blog (know-stroke.org) I am particularly interested in gaining better stroke awareness for the young faces of stroke ( pediatric stroke awareness ) as well as when stroke presents itself in the case of a PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale). These are both areas where there is so much more work to be done and where I have been trying to make a difference. While I’ve been told I have already made an impact through my volunteer efforts, I can’t help temper my frustration when I hear about another young stroke victim that didn’t get immediate attention because his coach didn’t recognize the stroke warning signs. I get an equal measure of discouragement when our non-profit group, the PFO Research Foundation struggles to gain new sponsors to further fund our cause for better PFO patient education.
The Big Sponsor that helped Breast Cancer Awareness go BIG TIME
My research showed that Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October) is now 26 years old. I also discovered the color pink is a Big Pharma-funded effort, it was launched by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca. There also is some controversy regarding the pink campaign and if it is actually helping Big Pharma boost its bottom line and sell the company’s cancer drugs through improved screening and faster treatment delivery. Either way, it’s been a wildly successful awareness campaign for breast cancer and it appears obvious its presence has inspired many.
My case for better stroke colors or a BIG TIME Sponsor
In the midst of all the pink in October, did you know October 29th was World Stroke Day? I bet if I asked ten people that question, not a single person could tell me that date or its significance. Indeed, a WORLWIDE Stroke Day for awareness and I could not even get my local paper in town, The Valley Breeze, to print a public service announcement to inform readers of the stroke warning signs (here’s my post on this topic). I was told by the editor, Tom Ward, that there simply was not enough room to honor my request because there were too many political ads to print prior to the Nov 2nd general elections. I received this information ahead of the paper’s release this past week and while I was not expecting to see my stroke PSA in print I honestly also wasn’t expecting to see the front page and a second page (p.29) in the paper both showing pictures of a pink fire truck that came to our town to promote breast cancer awareness. As I mention in the title of this post, I think I may be on to something, because I think our stroke colors may be all wrong. My theory: Would better colors, or brand awareness, attract more attention to the stroke awareness cause? Unfortunately, I believe it is more complicated than simply having the wrong colors.
The issue of stroke survivorship (and media coverage) often takes a different path when compared to the successful cancer awareness efforts. I’d even suggest the color might not matter, just for argument, think yellow wrist bracelet and what do you think of, Lance Armstrong/Livestrong/Cancer. I think for a good explanation of why stroke awareness just doesn’t “pack a punch” in the media you should read a recent article in the Baltimore Sun by Kris Appel. The article is entitled, “Bringing Stroke Out of the Shadows” and it discusses how shame and lack of attention still surround this disease. This is a great article both for stroke survivors and the general public. Miss Appel’s article ends with “But until we become comfortable with the idea of stroke and are willing to talk about it, to acknowledge its toll on this country, it will remain in the dark”. How fitting, right now I believe our stroke color needs to change, because you can’t see color in the dark.
[Personal Sidebar] To end my week full of color, I guess you could say, take one guess what color my daughter picked out to have (me) paint her room this past weekend? You guessed it, pink.
Article by David Dansereau