Reflections on “Think Pink” – A Re-Post

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It’s a memory as fresh as  yesterday’s  although more than 50 years have gone.

Two newly wed kids, just 21 and 18, after a nice dinner at home in our little apartment.  I light up.  Lucky Strike.

“Can I try one?” says my new bride.

“Are you sure? You don’t want to pick this up”  says I.

“Oh let me try!” says she.

So I gave the woman I  loved her first smoke – with my own hand.

We lived our lives. Raised our kids. Buried two or our four children together. She smoked. She switched to a filter – but she smoked.

I stopped in my early ’30s.  She never did.

She always worried about those few pounds she might gain. She never really tried. Maybe she knew in her heart she couldn’t quit. I never hounded her about it. We buried two sons – one in infancy and one at ten. I wasn’t going to add to her burdens.

My mistake.

In 2003 I retired early. We had the money. The daughters were grown. We were going to do all of the things we wanted to do together but never had the time.

She had been having back pains.  Ben-gay. “Hey you’re getting to be an old lady!”  Laugh.

The pain got worse. We postponed our trips.

Slipped disk? Maybe. Soon she needed a walker. Then she couldn’t go up the stairs. I had a hospital bed brought into our living room.

When her doctor saw her he immediately committed her to hospital.

She had end stage lung cancer, metastasized to her spine and right leg.

She gave up. She never came home.

She died four months after the start of what was supposed to be the best time in our lives.

She never coughed once.  Not once.

She was 58 years old.

She started smoking at a time when movie stars, “sophisticates” and celebrities smoked.  I started smoking when I was 13.  While there is much awareness today about the danger of smoking there was little in 1960.  Only the tobacco companies really knew and they weren’t telling.

So lung cancer is now considered by many and, dare I say, demeaned by some, as a  “life style” disease – when the words “lung cancer” are spoken the next words are usually  “Did she smoke?”   Then comes the look that says “Well, c’est la vie”.  The look that says “what did you expect?”

Not so with breast cancer. Think Pink!  This is ‘ breast cancer awareness month!”

Breast cancer apparently strikes the innocent; those who have done nothing to bring on their fate.  It’s a good campaign to support.  Innocent people.  Moms.   Not obese people. Not drinkers.  Not smokers.

And not lungs. Or colons.  Breasts.

Maybe its me but sometimes I think there is a certain smugness and commercialism  around the Think Pink campaign that I find somewhat disconcerting as if there exists a meritocracy among those with different diseases – as if someone cursed with breast cancer is  morally superior and more deserving of sympathy than someone with lung cancer because its not a “life style” disease.

Obviously having one disease does not make one morally superior to someone with another.  I know that.   Breast cancer is a serious deadly disease.  So why does it bother me to see young bouncy women in pink brassieres fighting yet another “war?”  Help me out here people.

More women will die of lung cancer than breast, colon, pancreatic and prostate cancer combined.  And more women will die of heart disease.

This weekend I will watch my share of football and the smiling happy healthy girls and defensive ends in Pink  “fighting” breast cancer.   Sorry, but it’s a little too commercial for my taste.   All you need is the cheerleaders.   It is the blatant commercialism of  Think Pink movement which I find disconcerting.  Reebok making money selling pink sneakers and teenage girls wearing “Save the ta-tas” t-shirts.  Cancer is not a football game.

Don’t mind me. I’m just being cranky today; Maybe because it’s October; maybe because it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month; maybe because I know I gave her the first one.


This morning, October 1st, I found an email reminding me it was “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”, the “Pink” campaign which as most of you know, is sponsored by the Komen Foundation.  Komen,  it seems to me has become a corporate marketing favorite; an alternate form of advertising.  Add to the fact that Komen is all about “awareness” allots less than 16% of funds raised towards research and pays its CEO over $650,000 a year (way out of line for a non-profit this size)  doesn’t help my attitude.   A while back Komen pulled funds for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood and then reversed itself in the face of massive criticism.   Back in 2009 Senator Joe Lieberman threatened to filibuster the health reform bill which became Obamacare if it contained a “public option”.   He successfully killed the public option.

His wife, Hadassah Lieberman was the CEO of Koman at the time and a long time associate of the Big Pharma lobbying complex.  Nice.

Bon’t mind my crankiness.  It’s October.



About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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14 Responses to Reflections on “Think Pink” – A Re-Post

  1. sojourner says:

    “Sorry, but it’s a little too commercial for my taste.” Mine as well!


  2. sojourner says:

    I wanted to say this on the first comment, but hesitated.

    First and foremost, I am sorry this tragedy happened in your life and your family’s life.

    But for your sake, I hope you are not placing blame on yourself for your wife’s cancer: first, because she may have had lung cancer for various other reasons, especially since she never coughed, and second, because we are all responsible for our own decisions.

    If I have overstepped my bounds, then I apologize. I just felt compelled to write this.


    • toritto says:

      No apology necessary. And no offense taken. When we were kids, everyone smoked. It was the “cool” thing to do. And we are all responsible for our own decisions.


      Liked by 1 person

      • sojourner says:

        I know. My father smoked heavily. And I started smoking at 15 (1965). I smoked for fifteen years and quit. But between second hand smoke and smoking, I am now struggling with severe asthma and am susceptible to bronchitis, which can last a long time. I was lucky not to have COPD.


  3. you aren’t cranky, you are simply right suspecting Komen for their pink goals.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. beetleypete says:

    I smoked Lucky Strike (filters) until 2012, when they became too expensive to buy, on a retirement pension. ($14 a pack) To be honest, if they were $1 (or $5) I would probably smoke until it killed me. I switched to ‘electronic’ cigarettes, supposedly harmless, but still addictive, due to nicotine in the vapour. They are cheaper, and ‘socially acceptable’, to some degree.

    I always have a problem with so-called ‘lifestyle’ diseases and illnesses. Why don’t they leave mountain climbers on mountains after they fall? Why don’t they let swimmers or surfers drown? Why do racing car drivers get medical attention when they crash? They are all lifestyle choices. Why bother to fund medicine for AIDS? Sex is a lifestyle choice, after all. Why help pregnant women in difficulty? Having a child is a lifestyle choice.

    It’s all bunk. Illness or injury should be treated just the same, whatever the cause. It is called being human, and having compassion.

    I don’t know the company you refer to, but I never help charities that pay their executives huge salaries, before they use the money where it was intended.
    Regards as always, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. toritto says:

    Heehee. Fourteen bucks a pack!!

    L.S.M.F.T. !!


    • beetleypete says:

      That’s the UK government supposedly discouraging smoking. Some brands are cheaper, around $9, but now many people buy smuggled cigarettes from Eastern Europe, containing even more chemicals!
      Today, it became against the law to smoke in a car containing any child under the age of 18.
      (Of the $14, more than three-quarters is government tax, going directly to the Treasury.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a real problem with companies like Avon and Revlon making such a big deal of the Think Pink campaign while simultaneously refusing to remove the carcinogenic chemicals from their cosmetics – or to warn women about the risk of exposure.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Mirna Morgan says:

    We always try to explain death in a objective way… We try classify, to seek reasons that increase or decrease our pain. I think it is beyond us… To men what belongs to men to God what belongs God. That does not make me religious woman, i am not, but i understand that death transcends human knowledge… It is far beyond us comprehension.
    And if we dont pulled the trigger we have not guilty…. I need to think like that to survive… Sometimes….
    Sorry for your lost….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. melisdvash says:

    One thing that really gets me is that breast cancer is also a ‘lifestyle’ disease. For the most part, women who have children and breastfeed them (for more than the minimum of 3-6 months) don’t get breast cancer. A small number of women can’t or shouldn’t have children. A small number of women with children can’t or shouldn’t breast feed. I’m not suggesting that bottle-feeding is a vice, but people make choices all down the line. People make choices to fund breast cancer research and slight other forms of cancer and other diseases. People make choices to shame people who smoke and also women who breastfeed their children. And women who don’t breastfeed their children. And women who choose not to have children. And women who have lots of children. There is a whole lot of shaming going on, and a whole lot of some people patting themselves on the back for being better than other people. I am sorry that your wife died young, from a ‘preventable’ disease. I don’t think it is your fault. Or her fault. I think you have every reason for being particularly sensitive about the whole issue, and I hope that you find some peace and happiness despite your loss(es).

    Liked by 1 person

    • toritto says:

      Melis – I think the whole “life style” disease thing started with AIDS in the ’80s when it was characterized by many as god’s wrath on homosexuals; it was starved of research money. It wasn’t until female partners of bi-sexual men started coming down with HIV/AIDS that funding became available in a big way.

      As for me, no, I don’t think it was my fault. I live comfortably in my own home, close to family and friends. My daughters call me every day, my health is decent and I want for nothing. I am a lucky man. Regards.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. sojourner says:

    For all the “cancer research” and “breakthroughs,” and all the money people have poured into these campaigns over the last half century, cancers of all kinds are actually on the increase, not decrease.

    Where did all of the billions go? And why would an elite controlled medical industry be interested in curing a disease like cancer which would help them depopulate the planet?

    I smell a “pink” rat here!


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