Pinky Pie

The politics – and economics – of pink & me

Posted on: October 15, 2009

My cute bald head and my mom's pink ladle.

My cute baldhead and my mom's pink ladle.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it, but there is a heck of a lot of pink out there right now. Maybe, I have a more heightened awareness of pink because of my own breast cancer diagnosis, but everything, from frozen dinners to undies to zebras, all have that pink ribbon on them.  (OK, maybe not zebras.)

But really, folks: it is almost like someone opened the Pepto-Bismol bottle and poured it on the world.

It’s not all bad, of course. More money – in theory – is going to help women with what scares most of us the most – breast cancer. However, more women die from heart disease than breast cancer.

I don’t mean to be ungrateful. I appreciate any research that can help prevent and cure this disease – not just for me but future women (and sometimes men).

I personally have contributed to the pink economy. Since my diagnosis, I have purchased a ton of pink stuff, created this Pinky Pie blog and been the recipient of so many funny, wacky, useful and wonderful pink gifts that have made me laugh and felt loved. Each is a symbol of someone caring for and about me. I worry about those who don’t have that support.

So much good is coming from all this pink that I hesitate to suggest this, but don’t you have the feeling some folks have decided pink is the new green? In board rooms across America, folks are saying, “Hey, we can make a ton of money from this pink thing.”

As some of you may recall, the reason I’m called Pinky Pie goes right back to my childhood – without my needing years of psychoanalysis to understand it. My world was pink growing up – my room, my clothes and my mom’s kitchen. (See the ladle from Mom’s kitchen to prove it was filled with pink. Also, note I have a pretty cute baldhead.)

Mom loved pink and I loved my mom so I was her Little Pinky Pie, as she called me.

I grew to hate all that pink as I moved into adolescence. Since my mom died in 2005, I began to wear pink to honor her – such as the mother of the bride dress at my daughter’s wedding.

When my breast cancer was diagnosed, the irony was not lost on me; hence I became Big Pinky Pie. I began collecting pink stuff, thanks to the kindness and generosity, warmth, love, affection, friendship of a ton of people who really care about me. I have more pink stuff than can be found in a Pepto-Bismol factory.

Thank you very much. I truly appreciate the love behind all that pink. You have no idea what support from you means when you are struggling with this disease.

It’s funny, because I adopted pink with my tongue in cheek, to honor my mom and because of the irony. I have tried to make jokes throughout my treatment, which gives people the idea that I am somehow brave or have a positive attitude or whatever. Jokes are just who I am. I am a mixture of smart aleck and sap.

Now, a new book questions the pink industry, not just because of the sometimes misuse of the color pink to earn a buck. (That would be capitalism). There’s almost a sense of anger from the author, who had cancer ten years ago.

She has some points. There’s pressure behind all that pink that we can beat this thing if we are just pink enough – meaning if we have that incredibly positive attitude and only think good thoughts. It’s magical thinking, of course.

I remember when our son, Matt, had his bone marrow transplant. He heard people talking about how important it was to have a positive attitude. “I have a positive attitude,” he told me.

It was also wonderful that so many people shared their support and prayers for us then as now. Thank you again to all of you.

After Matt died, one woman who I did not know well, said to me, “and I prayed for him too.” It was never meant this way, of course, and I’m sure she would ever consciously think it, but I took from it the feeling that we had messed up because she did her part.

I felt then and now that positive thinking is a wonderful thing, not because it’s a cure, but because it sure makes you feel better about the world and makes others around you feel better. When you feel good, you don’t have room in your head or body to feel bad.

As I mentioned before, I make jokes; I try to write funny things, although sometimes I am much more serious and rant a bit. (This would be an example.)

I am not so naïve to think that if I can keep laughing, all will be perfect – a couple rounds of chemo reminded me of that.

I was asked in that interview with PBS what it was like to be facing my death. I responded something like, “I can’t think that way.” And I really can’t. I don’t know what’s going to happen. The odds are still with me that we will kick cancer in the tush as my oncologist suggested. Also, we are all facing our deaths; we just don’t know when our expiration date is.

We’ll never get all that pink back in the Pepto-Bismol bottle and probably shouldn’t, but thoughts don’t make things happen or not. And neither do colors, pink or otherwise.

Did I mention thank you?


4 Responses to "The politics – and economics – of pink & me"

I would think too much of anything (even pink) could make you long for something else (maybe green)…unless thinking green makes you feel green and that would be bad!

Here is the wonderful thing about all your pick items….someday when you are past this, you can pass them to others who need a pink “pick me up” when they are struggling. It’s kind of like passing along the 40th birthday items to those who finally achieve that milestone when you are long past it but can still remember how it felt at the time.

And speaking of all that positive thinking, which by the way, I think is good, humans need to be able to feel all of our emotions and I think denying the feelings of fear, anger, grief or even depression which all have to be part of this experecine, would be foolish.

We are lucky enough to have wonderful professional counselors in our community that can help us process our feelings especially when they become overwhelming…or I guess another alternative is to blog which seems to be working well for Pinky Pie!

Well said, Pinky Pie.

Great ‘do. Now all you need is pink kleenex to dry it!
Your entries on your blog are amazing as always.
Two down, Sue!!!
I love you, man!


You handled the “economics” idea with such insight; not an easy subject to deal with while at the same time valuing deeply the results of the pink flood – i. e., genuine efforts to show love and support.

Also: I have always been an admirer of that husband of yours. Now I have your description of him to admire, too.

Nancy Ellingson

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