Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Santa Barbara raise $4.4 million for breast cancer research and patient care in September 2013 Photo by: Alicia Edquist

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer Santa Barbara raise $4.4 million for breast cancer research and patient care in September 2013
Photo by: Alicia Edquist

According to Avonwalk.org, every three minutes, there is a new diagnosis of invasive breast cancer and every 13 minutes a life is lost to breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and it has arrived in many different ways through sponsored walks, products, organizations collecting funds and benefit concerts all in the name of fighting breast cancer and help finding a cure.

Companies can’t wait to market to consumers during the month of October to help fight the cause with their exclusive pink products.

Instead of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations, we see pink everything and pink ribbons on all types of products with the idea that “a portion of the proceeds will go toward the cause.”

But how much really goes toward the cause?

According to an article in 2011 from USA Today, “Pink ribbon marketing brings mixed emotions.” While many Americans support buying pink products often breast cancer patients feel like everyone is trying to cash in on cancer.

Breast Cancer Pinkwashing

In this Monday, Oct. 10, 2011 photo, a Sephora Collection Pink Eyelash Curler is displayed in Philadelphia. Advocates are asking whether breast cancer awareness has lost its focus, and become more about marketing than women’s health. Pinkwashing, a word coined by activists, is a practice being described as when a company or organization does a pink breast cancer promotion, but at the same time sells and profits from pink-theme products. But pink ribbon groups say such sales help to fund millions of dollars of research to find cures for the disease. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

“Awareness does not equal commitment,” says Timothy Seiler of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. “When people purchase an item like a pink ribbon or make a donation at a grocery store, those types of steps often lead people to feel like they’ve done their part.”

But does all the effort of buying a product that has a pink ribbon on it help fund research and a cure?

Products with the pink ribbon show up on all types of products from cups to shirts mostly in the month of October since its Breast Cancer Awareness Month, all making it easy to market to the consumer that by buying this product you are helping the cause to fight against breast cancer.

But there is a bigger problem.

Each product you buy that has a pink ribbon on it a percentage of the purchase actually goes to the cause that could be as small as 10 cents.

Grocery stores like Albertsons in Downey, Calif. are selling pink ribbon products for breast cancer awareness month.  Photo by: Alicia Edquist

Grocery stores like Albertsons in Downey, Calif. are selling pink ribbon products for breast cancer awareness month.
Photo by: Alicia Edquist

Why not find a way to really put your money where you intend it to go?

Some products that put pink on actually have known cancer causing ingredients in their products. Thinkbeforeyoupink.org, took on Yoplait’s “Put a lid on it” in 2008 when the company started their pink lids save lives, the yogurt at the time contained rBGH hormone that is known to increases the risk having breast cancer. Think Before You Pink was able to get General Mills to remove the ingredient from the products through a campaign by consumers and the organization.

Awareness is important, but action is even more important to those who are fighting daily with breast cancer.

According to Think Before You Pink, they encourage all consumers to “Consider giving directly to a breast cancer organization whose work you believe is most essential to addressing the breast cancer epidemic.”

One of those ways is getting involved with an organization like Avon Walk for Breast Cancer and donating directly to causes that help fund breast cancer research and patient care.

The organization holds nine walks each year all over the United States, where not only does each walker have to raise $1,800 but the organization directly gives funds into that city’s hospitals and organizations that help families with breast cancer, research and patient care.

Breast Cancer Walk

Participants in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk pass the Capitol, Saturday, May 3, 2008, in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

According to Avonwalk.org, an average 80 percent of net funds raised by an Avon Walk stays in the area where the event takes place. The remaining 20 percent helps ensure that care programs in all 50 states, as well as national research programs, have adequate funding to make the most progress possible in the fight against breast cancer.

Howard Phillips walks in memory of his wife Sue Phillips who passed away from breast cancer in 2002.  Photo by Alicia Edquist

Howard Phillips walks in memory of his wife Sue Phillips who passed away from breast cancer in 2002.
Photo by Alicia Edquist

The next time you come across a product with a pink ribbon, take a good look at how much of that purchase really goes to fight breast cancer. The likelihood is very little.

If we really want to feel good about supporting breast cancer research and patient care, go directly to an organization that you know your donation will be used in a way that not only fully supports the fight against breast cancer but will have a lasting impact over the product that 10 cents goes to the cause.

For more information about how you can get involved or donate to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, visit www.avonwalk.org