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tv   The Stream  Al Jazeera  October 11, 2013 7:30pm-8:01pm EDT

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>> hi, i'm lisa fletcher and you're in the stream. from tow trucks to nfl, has the campaign become so successful that it's no longer really serving it's purpose? so is the purpose of breast cancer awareness month drowning in a sea of pink? october, as we mentioned is breast cancer awareness month,
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making pink the gold stone of marking. some make hefty donations to breast cancer charities, but many businesses are accused of pink washing, companies that use breast cancer awareness to improvele bottom line and lack of transparency in their fundraising. our executive producer, we asked that question to our viewers. has pink become so widespread that it has lost it's meaning? >> you know, our community is really divided on that and what it means: so as always, it's a live
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conversation, so feel free to joining us. by logging on. >> joining us onset with a critical eye all of this is gayle, the founder of the breast cancer consortium, and author of pink ribbon blues. and she's a prominent arthur of breast cancer research, one the top women's health specialists in the u.s. and lisa, a blogger, and she's fighting stage four breast cancer. thank you for all of u. and we've really been looking forward to this conversation tonight. dr. love, where was breast cancer awareness before the pink ribbon campaign, and where is it now? >> well, before, way back 30 years ago, or a little more, nobody talked about breast cancer and nobody was willing to come out that they had breast cancer, and it was a great secret. in fact, in the very early days,
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you had to have a doctor's permission to have somebody from reach to recovery come visit you in the hospital because it might be too disturbing. so it has really come a long way in terms of awareness, but maybe too far. when the nfl is wearing pink, we have certainly achieved awareness, and the goal has to be beyond awareness, but finding the cause and beating it altogether. >> you know, gayle, this puts us in a precarious position. they have raised the level of awareness now, and now groups are being critical and many are accused of pink washing and kind of define pink washing for us, and why some feel it's a righteous criticism. >> well, you mentioned the nfl, and dr. love mentions the nfl. and when we see pink on sneakers out on fields, and seas of pink
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products in grower stores, we see so much of the pink that it actually goes into the background. so what we have now instead of awareness is visibility for the sake of visibility. when you see a pink building, what does that really make you conscience of or mindful of with regard to breast cancer. so we have kind of lost sight of the consciousness raising of awareness and moved into a bland essential. the breast cancer brand and the pink ribbon logo. >> a lot of oversaturation. >> and the problem with it, it tends to be celebratory. isn't this wonderful? you have battle. and you're a survivor and all of those kinds of things, but in actual factor, it's much more than that. the message is early detection work, but not that often, probably 30% of the time, that not everybody who goes through
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breast cancer is cured. and it's a much more complicated issue than just a pink, you know, celebration or a pink building. and i think we lose that with the pink. >> speaking of that, lisa, you're fighting breast cancer, and how do you see the influence of the pink campaign. >> i think that the influence has become diluted over time. and i think that to me awareness should be about education, and i think that the pink ribbons and the oversaturation is becoming more commercial and it's taking away from what the message should be about, which is education and teaching accurate facts about breast cancer, and early detection and treatment. and still have it mess taft size which is incasual, and cellular
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biology is more powerful than that. >> you did everything right back in 2006. >> i did everything i could at the time. and i achieved what is called a ned status, no evidence of disease, but it doesn't mean that the cells are gone, and they can come back. and there's this focus. [ audio difficulties ]
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>> but america, as lisa belkin
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wrote about back then, so in addition to commercialization and marketing, it begs the question, how much can you put on a t-shirt or an yogurt lid to raise awareness of the realities, and these are the kind of realities that don't make it out in the commercial setting, and that's a huge part of the issue. >> and another part of the issue is there's a lot of collateral damage from the treatment. we act like you go through your treatments and you're fine, and we don't talk about the chemotherapy brain and the numb toes and the pain and the consequences from the surgery, and the swelling of the arm. so it's not all -- even if you're cured, which some people are, you still pay a huge price. and we're trying right now to collect the collateral damage questions to document this. at question the so people can go there, and put their problems and what they
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want us to do, and as part of our health of women study, we're going to track them and document them and we're trying to work with all of the different breast cancer groups to focus on this, and move beyond the celebratory, pink, and if they do things right, what is the real disease. >> particularly on the common foundation, because a lot of times when you're fighting a disease like breast cancer, all you've got is hope. i mean, there's no cause for this disease, no cure for it. and to bring in all of these negatives and all of the collateral damage as part of an awareness campaign, is that an expectation? >> well, komen is part of the project. and they're collaborating with us for awareness, but i think its expectations, it's better
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than the false expectations, that you have a mammogram, you have surgery, and you'll maybe get better breasts than you had before and you'll go on with your life with no problem. that's not the majority of women, even the ones that are cured. >> lisa, give us your take that. >> we're talking about education and awareness and reality. and we must present what the reality is, the good and the bad. and what we should be expecting of these organizations and research institutions is to be presenting the spectrum that happens with this disease. that's the reality. now, you don't know if you're going to be in the 70% who are able to go on without a later occurrence or metastis, and 30% will, and we don't want to take away your hope. but if we're talking about awareness, we're addressing the full spectrum.
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if 30% later are have a me meta, why aren't they being presented by the media. it should be an equal ratio. we hear the happy stories and the arthe rara and they don't wo hear from people like me who are taking chemotherapy for the rest of our lives, and depending on that, and only have 2-3% of research funds dedicated to met static research. >> absolutely, we do want to hear from you. and we want to hear from dr. love and gayle and we're going to continue this conversation right after the break. when we get back, i want to hear about the pink campaign, and how to tell. [ audio difficulties ] keep tweeting in your comments.
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we'll be right back.
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>> welcome back, we're talking about the saturation of all things pink during breast cancer awareness month. and whether it's improving women's health. and there's no shortage of companies attaching themselves to this. >> we're seeing everything from shoes to pens, on my screen right now, i have boots, and butternut squash ravioli, and from our streamer, andrea, she notes there are pink drill bits. a leading company released these drill bits. so gayle, in terms of all of
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this marketing and branding, it's good for companies, but what else should we be looking at with this issue? >> well, it's very good for companies, and this is one of the key issues of the commercialization of the disease. companies are jumping on the pink ribbon bandwagon and making a lot of money, and even if they do donate, many of them do not, some do, and i would almost guarantee that the profit margin is significantly higher than the donation. [ audio difficulties ] they're bitting more. if you buy this product, that's kind of the opposite of what's happening. >> lisa, nobody expects businesses to do things for
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free, and how do you respond. >> i think that one of the things we expect is that companies schmoe where their money is going. for example, i was in a store today. and they were running a breast cancer promotion, and they said, we're going to donate a percentage of sales today to breast cancer research. and i said, okay, that's great. what is the organization you're donating to, and how will that money be used in and they just looked at me blankly, they didn't know the information. how much money was going to be given, what percentage. this was just a script that they were reciting because they felt that if they aligned themselves with pink and breast cancer awareness month, that was automatically kind of something sacred and nobody was going to challenge them. >> how do you tell the
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difference between marketing and companies that are doing this to simply capitalize on this, that it's such an invisible campaign? >> first of all, and. ask the store, reading the fine print of products is very important. so if it just says something vague like goes to the fight against breast cancer or goes to research, it's so ambiguous that you can't actually follow the money. and it's very port to follow the money. and then it's important to follow the messages as well. what are the messages being sent? what organizations are they going to? do those organizations have financial reports that you can find? can you follow up and see if they're doing anything that's helpful. >> this has been on the community's mind a lot. where is the money going:
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dr. love, where is the money going and how do we be informed consumers in. >> to be fair, some of the money was actually well spent. so red line, the first cause of marketing, because initially, companies didn't want to align themselves with breast cancer, they were afraid today scare women away, and revlon funded a lot of the ucla research, a very important drug in breast cancer treatment. so some of the money really does go to good things and good research, but you have to look and find out and some of the companies will donate without you buying a product. now, when you're a breast cancer research organization as we are, we do need that money. it actually does go to research, and it is a good source of
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funding, so it's a balance. and i think what gayle was saying, you have to think before you pink, and look into it. and if it does look like they're doing something valuable and they're giving a significant amount of money, maybe it is wort it, and if not, maybe not. >> i would also like to suggest that instead of buying products that are pink or have a ribbon on them, if people want their money to go to good organizations, take the money directly and research the organizations and give it directly to the organizations themselves. just give the money there and forget the pink shoes and the pink drill bits and do your research and give that money directly to the organizations, especially the ones that give research grants and do good work. >> the saturation of the pink has kind of lent itself to
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blacktivism. and i didn't invent that word. put a ribbon on this event and give hundred and wear pompoms, and do whatever you're going to do for the cause, it creates a scenario before you don't have to think before you pink. so now we're in a situation where we have to reverse that. >> is it possible to dial this back to a point where it really is helpful? dr. love, can it be dialed back, should it be dialed back. >> well, it can, if enough people and questions and really look at what's happening behind the pink, then the companies will sort of cleanup for act. the fact that they get away with it makes them do it more. but there are other things that women with do more. if you can't donate, you can participate in research. we have women studies where you fill out questions online
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overtime. and we need healthy women with breast cancer, and what causes it, and what is the best mechanism for prolonging the quality of life with breast cancer as long as we can. so there are alternatives to buying pink products and things, and i actually try not to wear pink as much as possible because it's overwhelming. but i think that if we call the companies on it, we can maybe change the culture of the companies. >> we need to call the charities on it too. there are some 1300 non-profits in the u.s. that are somehow associated with breast cancer, and it's a lot. and there are new ones every day probably. so when you see all of that stuff, and all of that organizing around breast cancer, you have to really vet the organizations, because some are doing fabulous, fabulous work, but you can't tell unless you
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look, but that is the message, you have to look. >> good point. >> speaking of messages, what important messages are getting lost in all of this pink marketing? and has the success of the campaign been a at the expense f other issues?
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>> welcome back, we're talking about what's getting lost in all of the pink of breast cancer awareness month. and dr. love, a sea of pink created a sensation between the success of the awareness campaign and the success of fighting and treating breast cancer? >> well, i think it has, and i think that everything, we overdiagnoses and over treat breast cancer, but one of the
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down sides of mammography that doesn't get talked about a lot, it finds a lot of things that weren't going to be a problem in the first place, some you're down playing and some overtreat. and we make it sound like everything is fine and it's all a success, and i think that really interferes with people understanding the disease and the treatments and the treatments have significant side effects and collateral damage. it's one thing to talk about breasts off and getting new ones, but people don't think about the fact that they're completely numb, and you have no sensation, and you may have significant problems from the surgery. so we need to be realistic about what the disease is, and how prominent it is, and what the treatments do, and maybe focus more on fighting the cause. my big model is cancer of the
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cervix, we took out normal body parts, and then we found out that it was a virus, and now we have a vaccine. in 30 years, we went from cutting out normal body parts, and in breast cancer, we're still cutting out normal body parts. >> the campaign and if it's more helpful or harmful. gayle, what do you think. >> well, breast cancer right now as it stands is a proxy for
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women's health. and if you support breast cancer, you're supporting women's health. but what we're not tending to see is the fact that heart disease kills more women than campus, and lung disease kills more women, and ovarian cancer is a significant disease for women if terms of death rates, and we tend not to see those kinds of things, and when you look beyond women's health, with he don't see men's health issues in this environment either. lisa mentioned that we don't see men with breast cancer. 1% of cases involve men, but having men into this pink world. so i would agree that there is kind of a cottage industry that has developed around breast cancer itself.
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good evening everyone. welcome to al jazeera america i'm john siegenthaler in new york. debt deal outline. the plans proposed by both houses of congress to the president to end the standoff. embracing for impact. the evacuations are under way in india as a powerful cyclone is about to hit the coast? and the announced visit the necessarmessage that john kerryr the president of afghanistan about the u.s. troops. ♪ more signs of progress on


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