Queen's University

Pink Ribbons, Inc. Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy

Book cover which depicts a photo of a jewel-encrusted pink ribbon, to represent the commercialization of the breast cancer movementIn this book, I trace how breast cancer has been transformed from a stigmatized disease and individual tragedy to a market-driven industry of survivorship. In an unprecedented outpouring of philanthropy, corporations turn their formidable promotion machines on the curing of the disease while dwarfing public health prevention efforts, and stifling the calls for investigation into why and how breast cancer affects such a vast number of people. Here, for the first time, I question the effectiveness and legitimacy of privately funded efforts to stop the epidemic among American women.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. grapples with issues of gender and race in breast cancer campaigns of businesses such as the National Football League; recounts the legislative history behind the breast cancer awareness postage stamp—the first stamp in American history to raise funds for use outside the U.S. Postal Service; and reveals the cultural impact of activity-based fund-raising, such as the Race for the Cure. Throughout this book, I probe the profound implications of consumer-oriented philanthropy on how patients experience breast cancer, the research of the biomedical community, and the political and medical institutions that the breast cancer movement seeks to change.

Pink Ribbons, Inc. is considered to be highly revelatory, and at times shocking, as it challenges the commercialization of the breast cancer movement, its place in U.S. culture, and its influence on ideas of good citizenship, responsible consumption, and generosity. (Read More)