Each year, come the end of September as we head into October, you would think that pink is the only color in the rainbow. Breast cancer as a cause was rocketed into the spotlight by the Susan G. Komen Foundation (SGK). Treatments, research, and a better survival rate are all positive outcomes from SGK and its amazing work. Pink as a color has been indelibly etched upon everyone's minds as the color of the cause. That can only be the result of amazing marketing and branding.
Unfortunately, as of late, the tsunami of pink comes at a cost to many other causes. Did you know that September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and that the gold ribbon is the symbol of childhood cancer? By the middle part of September, as all of us affected by childhood cancer try to raise awareness for the color gold, pink rolls along as the big bully on the block. It rears its head in unlikely places -- on NFL players' helmets, on recycling garbage trucks, in thousands of food products at supermarkets, on mint dispensers in local diners -- over and over. It is as if no other color in the rainbow exists.
The marketing that SGK so effectively has accomplished in branding the color pink is truly amazing. But what I wish, as a father of a child who passed away from cancer who is trying to raise awareness and funding for the number one disease killer of children, is that SGK would wait until October rolls around before washing away every other cause in a rush of pink. Would it be that difficult to allow other causes their due? I honestly do not believe that it would be to the detriment or strike at SGK's bottom line to allow September to be utilized completely for National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
The funding estimates do not lie in terms of which causes receive the most federal dollars. Childhood cancer is low on the totem pole. Twelve percent of the budget for the National Cancer Institute goes to breast cancer research, while only three percent is dedicated to childhood cancers, of which there are hundreds of types. There are "fifteen children diagnosed with cancer for every one child diagnosed with pediatric AIDS. Yet the U.S. invests approximately $595,000 for research per victim of pediatric AIDS and only $20,000 for each victim of childhood cancer." It is a fight for a share in a very segmented marketplace. And yet, when childhood cancer is given its due, i.e. the month of September, it does not even get the full days of the calender before being forced from the marketplace by pink.
To SGK, I ask that you wait. I ask that you let other foundations and other causes have their time in the marketplace. Your place in the charity market is not in jeopardy, and you do not need to use donor funds to pursue other charities out of existence. For those of us who have witnessed our children take their last breath, we need all the awareness we can garner so that no other parent need witness the same horror. SGK, please allow us this right.
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