This year I decided that I would not even think about Pinktober. I have written about it for the three past years and I don’t feel like I have any new thoughts on the subject. Of course, I saw Pinktober stuff; lotions, bagels, moving trucks, t-shirts at breast cancer awareness days at schools…but mostly I escaped without having to deal with it at all…until last weekend.
Ken, Oliver and I went apple picking in New Jersey as we do each year (usually we go with friends but Oliver got strep throat on the planned date, so we went on our own). It was a hot October day but we had a great time and got lots and lots of apples. Then we went to a restaurant that we often go to in the area because they have a good kids menu, lot of adult selection and the quality is good (we’re food snobs).
I ordered something unusually fatty, a fried chicken sandwich with prosciutto and mozzarella and fries (I never order like this) and Ken got a burger. When it arrived at the table, I didn’t notice anything alarming. I was so hungry that I just pulled the pick out of one half of my sandwich. But then Ken said to me, “Carrie, do you see what’s in the sandwich.” I was like, “huh?” And then I saw it. My jaw dropped.
Two picks on each half that said, “Save the ta-tas.” One for each boob! I couldn’t believe it. Why would they put this in my sandwich? Why? If you really want to do breast cancer awareness at your restaurant, fine. I really don’t have a major problem with it. If you want to raise money along with that awareness, I’ll cheer you on. But that’s not what this was. This was two sticks that made a joke of my disease. I was livid.
I decided not to say anything while I was there, mostly because I didn’t want to make a scene or make the server uncomfortable, which he didn’t deserve. So, I ate half my sandwich and we left.
The more I thought about it, the more upset I got. The more I felt like these picks were inappropriate, especially coming stuck into my meal. So I wrote a letter on their Facebook page.
These little sticks came with my meal today. I am a young adult breast cancer survivor. I want to say that I think that when you bought these, you were thinking that they equated to support. Support is wonderful. But this is not what support for breast cancer looks like. This is sexualizing our disease and it’s offensive, inappropriate and ill informed. And to stick this message in my sandwich is just in bad, bad taste.
If you really want to support women with breast cancer, I can point you toward organizations that work exclusively on research for stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Stage 4 is the only kind of breast cancer that is terminal. It can be managed but a man or woman with stage 4 breast cancer will be in treatment until treatment no longer works. I can also point you toward wonderful organizations that work to help men and women undergoing treatment to make life a little less sucky. You could donate a portion of your sales to these organizations. You can ask for donations on top of tips. But, no matter what you do, these sticks will not save any breasts. That’s not how breast cancer works.
Also, why “save the ta tas?” Why not save lives?
Breast cancer is not cute, funny or sexy and nothing you do can make it that way. In fact, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. 114 men and women die from metastatic breast cancer every day. And even when we get mastectomies, chemotherapy and radiation, the cancer can still come back and kill us by moving to the bones, brain, liver and lungs. Early detection does not save breasts. It can catch the disease early but that’s not a guarantee. So, “save the ta tas” really doesn’t make any sense.
Please consider how sticking these stupid little signs in a sandwich can be offensive and traumatizing. Even if that’s not what you meant to do.
They ended up responding and apologizing for offending me. The chef is a 5 time cancer survivor and his intension really was to show support. He hadn’t considered the fact that these might be traumatizing to some. They agreed to take the picks off and not serve them again.
Originally, Ken didn’t think I should say anything about these picks but I felt like I had to. Because if I didn’t, will they have learned anything? Would they ever have understood who ill informed they are? What they did was the antithesis of awareness. Awareness should be about knowledge. Real knowledge. Not cutesy little slogans
I didn’t escape Pinktober unscathed as I had hoped. But maybe I helped by saving another woman from being re-traumatized. Maybe, someone who read the post will think about donating money. Maybe the chef or other workers will become advocates in the future and speak up about other injustices. I don’t know. Maybe I’m being idealistic. But that’s who I am.
Have you spoken up when confronted with a Pinktober slogan or item for sale that made you red in the face?
How do you handle the onslaught of pink and cutesy advertisements during this month?
On the bright side, here are some pictures from our apple picking adventure.