Students across UW Oshkosh came together in October to raise,
money awareness for breast and testicular cancer at various events.
Throughout the month of October, individuals and student organizations at UW Oshkosh acknowledged Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an international health campaign now in its 28th year.
Groups at Oshkosh raised awareness this month in various ways. University Dining sold Otis Spunkmeyer cookies. Oshkosh Hockey Club donned pink jerseys and teamed up with Zeta Tau Alpha sorority to raise $450. Colleges Against Cancer held a dodgeball tournament.
Compared to decades ago, people are now more open about discussing breast cancer, according to Geneva Murray, director of the Oshkosh Women’s Center.
“We talk about breast cancer now quite openly, but the thing was it’s not always been like that,” Murray said. “And it’s through these awareness campaigns that people feel comfortable openly talking about it.”
According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during her lifetime. The ACS estimates nearly 40,000 women will die from breast cancer this year alone.
Murray said although talk about breast cancer is open today there are also ethical issues in the way groups raise awareness. Campaigns such as “Save Second Base” t-shirts sexualize and objectify the victims, according to Murray.
“I have never identified with the ‘Save the Boobies” shirts,’ Murray said. “Like if you wanted to say, ‘Save My Mother,’ I get that. But I’m much less concerned about her breasts and much more concerned about whether or not she’s going to live.”
Murray also said some corporations with little interest in breast cancer awareness throw a pink ribbon on their products to increase sales in a phenomenon called pinkwashing. Other companies, she said, will donate percentages of their sales to cancer research but cap the donation at an amount such as $10,000 and keep the rest as profit.
Bryan Hulbert, programming assistant for the Women’s Center, said he read on BusinessInsider.com that the NFL donates just eight percent of pink merchandise sales to the ACS.
“It was really disheartening to learn the NFL is putting all this time, effort and money into raising this awareness, but they’re really kind of hoarding a lot of the money for themselves and [not] passing that along,” Hulbert said.
Despite the ongoing societal issues with ethics and pinkwashing, Hulbert said Breast Cancer Awareness Month succeeds in creating an environment where people can comfortably discuss important issues such as mammograms and self-examinations.
“It doesn’t matter your age, your race, your color,” Hulbert said. “Everybody is affected by these things, and so it’s important for everybody to be aware of them and knowledgeable of them.”