When we see pink, we think of breast cancer, but that's not enough any longer, is it?

A little over a year ago, GateHouse Media, which owns the Times and dozens and dozens of other papers all over the United States, sent word to all of its publications that during October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it would be embarking on a “Paint the Town Pink” initiative. There were all kinds of things involved with it, but what really stood out was that every GateHouse newspaper would be publishing some papers with pink newsprint in order to raise awareness of breast cancer.

    Wow. Pink newsprint. That was pretty bold and quite unique.

    Funny thing, though: As the promotion was ramping up, it was learned that another breast cancer awareness organization already had the copyright on the slogan “Paint the Town Pink.” Scrambling, the GateHouse higher-ups switched gears and changed the awareness campaign to “Paint it All Pink.”

    Which kind of sums up what today’s editorial is all about: When it comes to breast cancer awareness, is there such a thing as too much pink? Seriously, when you see someone wearing lots of pink, or you see pink ribbons or pink anything, don’t you almost automatically think of breast cancer first? Isn’t it safe to conclude that, quite some time ago, the pink-equals-breast-cancer-awareness goal crossed into rousing success territory? It worked, and it continues to work: We’re all hugely aware of breast cancer awareness.

    Yes, absolutely, the super-worthy objectives such as “prevention” and “research” now go hand in hand with all this pink and all this talk of awareness. Donated money is going to prevention as well as research aimed at finding a cure for breast cancer. Just last week, in preparation for a Pirate girls’ volleyball pink promotion coming up next week, breast cancer survivor Barb Hager-Olsen delivered an emotional and powerful talk to the team about her battle with cancer. As a survivor, she also told the girls about the importance of practicing prevention strategies.

    But in the big picture, are we winning this fight against cancer as a whole? The newest statistics show that 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer some time in their lives. For women, it’s 1 in 3. Many will be diagnosed, fight tooth and nail to beat the most dreaded disease on the planet, succeed, and be called a “survivor.” But for those who either personally have fought the fight or have witnessed loved ones and friends fight it, cancer is maybe at its absolute cruelest when it returns.

    Breast cancer is like a few other types of cancer; if it’s caught early enough it can be treated aggressively and often beaten into remission. That was the case before all this pink, and it’s the case now. Withouta doubt, though, all this pink has resulted in many women being more aware, being diagnosed sooner because they were more aware, and subsequently surviving breast cancer. But there is no cure. Not for breast cancer, nor any other cancer. So, maybe not surprsingly, when this terrible disease impacts so many lives, the intense push to cure cancer has become big business.

    Has the pink industry gotten too big? Do we really want boys wearing “I Love BOOBIES” rubber wristbands? How about bumper stickers that read, “Save the Ta-ta’s”? Sure, it’s kind of cute, and some of the money spent on those instruments of awareness goes toward a great cause, but is the focus still 100 percent on the big prize, a cure? Some of the huge foundations behind all this pink have become almost behemoth in scope, and it’s a sure bet a fair amount of financial donations are spent on things that maybe the contributors didn’t have in mind when they wrote their check.

    Let’s not lose our focus here. Give local, to people you know and trust, people you know will carry on the valiant effort.