Slapping a pink pin on a person or product has long been synonymous with waging a war against breast cancer. But some advocates say that the girly-hued initiative is damaging the movement instead of pushing for improved patient care and services.

Even before Komen for the Cure came under fire for proposing cuts to Planned Parenthood, the organization behind the feminine-colored campaign was getting lambasted for “making light” of an issue that deserved a more hard-hitting approach.

Detractors see the way supporters paint store aisles, clothing items and homes with the aesthetic color throughout October as “pinkwashing.” Some say it’s a passive, superficial approach that doesn’t galvanize advocates to protest and pose hard-hitting questions. Others take issue with the fact that many companies whose products contain potentially hazardous ingredients can join –- and benefit monetarily from –- the Komen campaign.

“We used to march in the streets. Now you’re supposed to run for a cure. Walk for a cure, or jump for a cure,” breast cancer survivor Barbara Ehrenreich says in the documentary "Pink Ribbon, Inc.," which examines Komen’s corporate partnerships. “The effect of the whole pink-ribbon culture was to drain and deflect the kind of militancy we had as women were appalled to have a disease that was epidemic, yet we didn’t know the cause of.”

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month gets under way, consider how you will make a difference this month in the lives of the one in eight women who will be diagnosed with the disease. Whether it’s donating to charities that directly fund cancer treatment or pressuring government to take real action, find out how your involvement can have the most impact.

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  • Push Government Officials

    To make meaningful change in the lives of those living with breast cancer, Breast Cancer Action is urging advocates to "<a href="http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/?p=2085#more-2085">move beyond 'awareness' and pink ribbons"</a> and the National Breast Cancer Coalition has set a deadline of 2020 for putting an end to breast cancer. <a href="http://bcaction.org/the-2012-breast-cancer-action-mandate-for-government-action/">The 2012 Breast Cancer Action Mandate </a>urges government officials to push legislation that keeps corporations from polluting the environment and pushes pharmaceutical companies and biotech firms to prioritize patients over profits. <a href="http://www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org/get-involved/take-action/presidential-petition/Presidential-Petition.html">The National Breast Cancer Coalition</a> is calling on the president to agree to fight to end breast cancer by Jan. 1, 2020. <em>Learn more about the petitions <a href="http://bcaction.org/the-2012-breast-cancer-action-mandate-for-government-action/">here</a> and <a href="http://www.breastcancerdeadline2020.org/get-involved/take-action/presidential-petition/Presidential-Petition.html">here. </a></em>

  • Help Pass Laws To Defeat Cancer

    Because of the efforts of the American Cancer Society and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the ACS, insurance companies now cover measures such as mammograms. Find out how to support volunteers on Capitol Hill, reach council members and take part in other campaigns. Find a state-by-state guide for how to get involved <a href="http://www.cancer.org/Involved/Advocate/index" target="_hplink">here.</a>

  • Support Grassroots Organizations

    It isn’t just the organizations that offer low-cost mammograms and groundbreaking research that need your help. Consider getting involved with grassroots organizations that are tackling the issues that don’t garner mainstream attention. <a href="http://www.breastfriends.org/">Breast Friends</a>, for example, teaches family and friends of breast cancer patients how to best respond to a sufferer’s needs, so that no woman feels misunderstood and unsupported while facing the vicious disease. The <a href="http://www.keep-a-breast.org/">Keep Abreast Foundation</a> works specifically with young people. educating about to help eradicate breast cancer for future generations. <em>Find out how you can get involved <a href="http://www.keep-a-breast.org/get-involved/">here.</a></em>

  • Donate To Highly-Rated Charities

    <a href="http://ironwoodcrc.com/your-visit/list-of-national-organizations-that-directly-fund-cancer-treatment/">Consult with Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers'</a> list of charities that provide funds for cancer treatment to make sure your donations have a meaningful impact. T<a href="http://abcf.org/">he American Breast Cancer Foundation</a>, which provides financial assistance for breast cancer screenings and diagnostic tests for uninsured and underserved individuals, and <a href="http://www.w2wbcf.org/">Woman 2 Woman Breast Cancer Foundation</a>, an organization that offers ultrasound assistance, biopsy assistance, and co-pay assistance to high risk and underserved communities, are among a number of organizations that Ironwood recommends. <em>Learn more about the other charities <a href="http://ironwoodcrc.com/your-visit/list-of-national-organizations-that-directly-fund-cancer-treatment/">here. </a></em>

  • Learn The Facts

    Why is it that Komen is getting such a bad rap for making a push for a pink-oriented campaign? Watch the documentary "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-kim/pink-ribbons-inc_b_1575403.html">Pink Ribbons, Inc.," </a>a film that closely examines the organization’s connections to corporations and how offering up such a feminine initiative may be keeping advocates from protesting for critical change.

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