Print Media

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“*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer”

New Scientist by , Dec. 10, 2015.

Call it the optimism fallacy. It’s widely thought that staying happy and stress-free helps keep you healthy. The power of positive thinking has passed into folklore, helping to fuel a large self-help industry – not to mention people who like to post “inspirational” quotes on social media. Some cancer bloggers complain that common advice to “fight” their illness by staying cheerful can be unhelpful. “Forcing optimism may have its own negative consequences,” says Gayle Sulik, who writes the “Pink Ribbon Blues” blog. “The emotional work to display optimism when a person does not feel it may add to stress.”

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“Your Fun ‘No Bra Day’ Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients”

Broadly by , Oct. 13, 2015.

No Bra Day’s Facebook event insists the occasion is meant to celebrate breasts; it doesn’t mention breast cancer until the final paragraph: “Breast Cancer is something you should take seriously and be checked for.” According to ABC News, the holiday was created in 2011 as a means to “raise awareness about the disease, raise money for research, and to support survivors.”

“It really can be offensive to a lot of women who have gone through and not had the optimal outcome from their surgeries, from their treatments,” Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health, told Broadly. “There’s so much involved in [having breast cancer], and that just gets erased by the perky, happy, fun, I’m gonna wear my tight ta-tas T-shirt and throw my bra over the bridge and say this is awareness. That’s the opposite of the reality for many people.”

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“Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns”

BMJ by Meg Carter, Oct. 12, 2015.

Gayle Sulik, medical sociologist at the University of Albany in New York state and author of Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health, identifies a recent shift in campaign messages from telling women screening “will” to “may” save their life, and now to an acknowledgment that every woman is different so to get advice from their doctor.

However, she is critical of what she sees as some marketers’ efforts to “reclaim pink” from pink ribbon critics by choosing a harder sell rather than more considered, fact based campaigning. One example she cites is a current marketing campaign for a US breast health screening and diagnostics supplier in which the word pink has been turned into a reassuring acronym: “P=Peace of Mind, I=Incredible Service, N=Not what you expect, K=Knowledge is power.”

“What we are now seeing is the pink ribbon movement taking the language of those opposed to pink ribbon culture to reframe the pinkwash debate to their own advantage,” says Sulik. “Just what it will take for campaigners to move beyond awareness and fundraising to more critical thinking, however, remains to be seen.”

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“Breast cancer to rise 50 percent by 2030? Hey, not so fast!”

Health News Review by Kathlyn Stone, May. 4, 2015.

We recently saw many headlines claiming that the incidence of breast cancer in the United States would rise 50 percent over the next 15 years. The major stories all hit within 24 hours after National Cancer Institute researchers released their study at the American Association of Cancer Research annual meeting. “Yes, it’s definitely disease mongering,” says Sulik. “At the point when advisory boards, clinicians, and patients are actively and conscientiously reconsidering screening recommendations, there is a push back. This kind of headlining puts fear and risk back on top as the primary motivators for people to accept unnecessary and potentially harmful medical interventions, including screens.”

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“Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause “ by Megan Ellis, Oct. 31, 2014.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has come and gone, and once again it didn’t come without a series of controversies as a result of advertisers and those cashing in on the cause. You magazine and fracking company Baker Hughes’ pink drill bits stirred up their own set of controversies this month, bringing the commercial side of Breast Cancer Awareness Month into the limelight. From sexualisation and trivialisation of the disease, we take a look at what problems are facing breast cancer awareness month. “It is consumption-oriented, entertainment-based, festive, trendy, and targets consumers in the name of awareness but using typical marketing strategies aimed to increase participation in the cause and profit for the industry,” Sulik says.

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“How to Make the Biggest Impact with your Breast Cancer Donations”

Money by Kerie Anne Renzulli, Oct. 24, 2014.

With all the different charities vying for your generosity, it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where exactly you should donate. To make that task easier, MONEY—with the help of Gayle Sulik, Samantha King and Charity Navigator—identified five breast cancer charities where you can feel confident that your dollars will be put to good use funding prevention research, education, and patient support. These organizations have high levels of accountability, have successfully sustained their programs over time, and spend a high percentage of their revenue on programs and services rather than administrative or fundraising costs.

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“The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness”

Racked by Chavie Lieber, Oct. 22, 2014.

As a growing number of pink products flood the market, the commodification of breast cancer is coming under increased scrutiny. The cottage industry is completely unregulated, with a great deal of brands failing to disclose exactly how much money they actually donate—not to mention that charities don’t always share where the money goes either. Activists feel the products present misleading images and facts about a disease that has claimed the lives of millions. With some brands even producing items with unsafe ingredients, many argue that BCA products have come to violate consumer ethics, doing more harm than good.

“It’s almost like Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become a holiday, a shopping extravaganza, like Christmas in July,” muses Gayle Sulik, a medical sociologist at the University of Albany who wrote a book on the subject titled Pink Ribbon Blues. “It’s created a spectacle around the cause which actually diverts attention from the epidemic. The realities of breast cancer—not just the disease, but the treatments, controversies, mammogram screenings—the public at large doesn’t know what to make of this stuff because instead, all the awareness is focused on product marketing.”

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“The Problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month”

Women’s Health Magazine by Robin Hilmantel, Oct. 15, 2014.

You might think that breast health advocates and women who’ve had breast cancer would eagerly await the pink ribbon movement each October. You’d be wrong. “In some of the media, what you tend to see is a dumbing down in a sense,” says Gayle Sulik, Ph.D., founder and executive director of Breast Cancer Consortium. “It’s hard to talk about cancer; it’s very, very complicated. And so when you connect it to a campaign and want to have a headline, sometimes really important details get lost.”

“As more people have been diagnosed with breast cancer, they see the disconnect [between the breast cancer awareness messaging] because they’re living it,” says Sulik. “Breast cancer is not just one disease, and early detection doesn’t cut it. … We want to get the diversity of stories out because there’s been so much of a focus over the years about heroically beating breast cancer, and there are too many people who don’t beat it. There are too many people who may still be alive and living with it but are certainly not cured, so I think that stuff has to get out, as well.”

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