Taking Back October

Posted on: October 5th, 2013 by

Another October is upon us. And for many of us in the breast cancer world, this glorious month means one thing: pinkwashing.


I do not believe October should be designated as the month of all things breast cancer. I realize that the heightened publicity about breast cancer provides an opportunity to inform others about the reality of this disease. I realize that globally there are simply not enough awareness, information, and treatment options.

But designating months, days, and weeks for specific causes doesn’t sit well with me.

For example, why should October be the only month that breast cancer is discussed so feverishly?

Why is October 13 – just one day – dedicated to metastatic breast cancer awareness? People with mets are aware of the disease 365 days a year.

Working toward a cure and conversations about this and other diseases should be a year-round obsession.

But, instead, like too many others, I feel assaulted each October by pink ribbon products. A week ago, I accidentally bought two loaves of bread, each having a picture of pink ribbons. When I unpacked the bread and saw the ribbons – with the well-known promise that the proceeds would go toward finding a cure – I got upset.

And that’s when I realized I needed a break from all this.

So, I’ve decided to take back October and for the rest of this month focus on activities not breast cancer-related. I’m not burying my head in the sand, in denial, nor ignoring this horrific disease. However, for me, paying less attention to the pinkwashing takes away a meaning designated for a month that should never have had that meaning in the first place.

Instead, October deserves to be appreciated for its own merits. It should be appreciated for the bursts of beautiful fall color – at least in certain areas of the country. I love taking walks in October and taking in the sights and smells of such brilliant foliage.

My October calendar contains all kinds of meetups. Ari and I are attending a good friend’s wedding, I’m getting together with friends, Ari has ballet lessons, and a hayride and apple picking are in our future.

The start of October found me at my local art store, happily choosing canvases, brushes, and oil paintings. For now, I’m taking a break from painting breast cancer-related nudes and have enthusiastically taken up landscaping painting again.


I want to enjoy October again. And, for me, that time is now.

How do you feel about October?

Please feel free to share how you celebrate life.

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8 Responses to Taking Back October

  1. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    It seems every year things just get crazier and crazier as the pinkwashing becomes even more wide spread. For some reason, this year I’m feeling like tackling the issues. Admittedly, it’s still early in the month… However, I also completely understand how some, such as yourself, are choosing to stay out of the fray this year. I think it’s terrific you are taking back October. It’s still my favorite month of all. I love it. I will not let it be overtaken by BCAM, or anything else for that matter. Do October your way – maybe that’s a new mantra. Ha! Great post, Beth.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      Thanks much for your kind words about my post! It’s too difficult emotionally for me to grapple with BCAM, but I still intend to keep blogging. I am enjoying posts of activism and sharing them. I have to get to yours, which I’m sure will be fantastic.

  2. EAK13 had this to say about that:

    I’m like you Beth There was a time I’d be out there being vocal making noise but this year I have decided to do things differently. I am not going to get involved in protests though I do not buy products with pink ribbons Over the course of the past few years there are many who died. We tend to remember our friends but not often their families. I am going to contact those I was close to see how they are doing talk to them Touch base.. October 13th is my birthday too. I am just taking another route this year. Love Alli…..

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Alli, except for the bread snafu, I also try to avoid buying pink-ribbon products. I think contacting these individuals to see how they are speaks volumes and sounds wonderful.

      I vary how I cope with October each year. Sometimes I’m more vocal than other times.

      Thanks for commenting.


  3. Susan had this to say about that:

    I too feel that MBC Awareness should be more than one day in October. I love that Ari is taking ballet lessons. I am so blessed that I have danced with some great ballet companies and taught ballet to children, teens and adults. I get frustrated that my joy of pink has been compromised by all of the pinkwashing. It’s wonderful that you are taking back the month of October. I’d love to take back the joy of dance and association with the color pink and I hope Ari enjoys her ballet lessons.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Susan,

      I think it’s amazing that you were/are a ballerina and taught ballet. My gosh! I’m so impressed. Ari loves ballet, and I think it’s such a beautiful form of expression. I also wish I could like pink again, but, like you, I associate it with pinkwashing.

  4. Jill Foer Hirsch had this to say about that:

    I absolutely love October for many non-breast cancer related things. The fall colors-I have red hair, so I’m an “autumn”; my hair is also super curly so October is the month when the humidity starts to wane and my hair goes back from super freak to plain freak. Got married in October (just celebrated our 25th anniversary 10/9) because it’s my “good hair month.” OK, mostly it’s about hair, but, other stuff too! Like I hate summer, hot weather, bugs, etc. I love Halloween aka The Candy Holiday. I wore my pink ribbon all through October 2009, was abundantly aware of breast cancer right up until I was diagnosed IIB in November 2009. I still look forward to fall and love October!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Jill, I love your comment! It’s simply exuberant and lovely! Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary. And, yes, Halloween is something to look forward to.

      OK, let’s talk hair. Enjoy your fabulous hair! I have fall hair color, too. It’s an auburn-red, but don’t tell anybody, it comes from a bottle. Ooops, my blog is public, so there goes our little secret.

      Enjoy October, fall, Halloween — and your hair!

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