I was really startled last weekend when I turned on a football game and saw what looked like pink trim on the Redskins’ maroon and gold uniforms. For a minute or so I actually thought I was having a TV problem, or maybe an eye problem. Then it dawned on me that the annual Susan G. Komen march against breast cancer had taken place that morning in Denver. Okay, so it’s a special “NFL against breast cancer” day, I thought, as I began to notice pink armbands, pink shoes, and pink ribbon logos on shirts and hats.
But this Sunday I’m seeing it again. Because, of course, this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I’m not particularly happy about this. It looks a little silly on the players and it’s distracting. Not that I’m not as concerned about the disease as anyone else. But I am concerned that this pink thing has so dominated the public awareness that people forget heart disease is far and away the number one killer of women. February is Heart Disease Awareness Month. Do NBA players wear red ribbons and hats and shoes? I don’t know; I don’t watch basketball. But who’d notice anyway, with Valentine’s Day decorations dominating everything? If I wanted to “red” America the way breast cancer awareness has “pinked” the country, I’d have picked a month other than February or December.
All-out national campaigns require tremendous funding (most of which would be better spent on actual research) and some really great marketing. I commend the breast cancer folks on the outstanding job they’ve done over the years and the high profile they’ve established. But I urge people to remember that heart disease is the number one killer. Think before you pink.