Christmas Shopping And Cancer

It is that time of year in which we all venture out for the perfect gift for a friend or loved one. I happened to be at a general/hardware store looking for a camping item for one of my friends, while playing dodge the fellow shopper to jingle bells being played overhead.

My mother asked for a few cooking and baking utensils, so I happened to venture down the aisle looking for the perfect fit to her wish list. I, like most men, walked around until I found the aisle that looks like it has a bunch of cooking items and began to walk aimlessly back and forth trying to find the magical Wilton pan.

I walked up and down the aisle 2 or 3 times, and then, out of the corner of my, to my surprise, there it is, not the magical Wilton Pan, but this:

photo 1

That’s right, a pressure cooker. Not just any pressure cooker, but one that was written in spanish, and supports breast cancer research and awareness.

It made me stop and think, “Would my mother love a pressure cooker that is written in spanish, probably because it makes wonderful spanish rice, and  supports breast cancer research?” I bet she would.

I then had another thought come to my mind. Why did they choose a pressure cooker? What does it have to do with breast cancer and research? Is it because most women wear a bra and they consider them to be pressure cookers for their breasts? Or is it that if I was a woman and wore a bra that they added pressure could lead to breast cancer? Or is it if I make food in this pot that I won’t get breast cancer?

What was the story that Presto was trying to convey?

So I then did what any normal “geek” would do, I began the hunt for more cancer related products.

This is what I found (remember I am in a general/hardware store):

photo 2

Water bottles!

photo 3Nail polish and stickers.

photo 4Designer bracelets and rings.

All focused on breast cancer.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think this is a huge accomplishment. We as a community of patients, providers, and advocates have made breast cancer relevant. We have banded together to make the stories a part of everyday conversation, of our common language, of our sharing with one another. It is not a bad thing to say you have breast cancer. It’s an everyday occurrence where we read, hear, or learn of someone within our circle being impacted by breast cancer.

This is a huge win.

Yet, I still question why hasn’t anyone been creative enough to market all of the other cancers as well? Why haven’t we made it part of the common language, the stories that we share with friends or over coffee? Why is there not an entire aisle dedicated to cancer related items?

I mean we could have air compressors that support lung cancer. Or perhaps washable markers, or invisible ink? Lung cancer, the cancer we don’t see. Maybe it is a line of glasses or contact lenses for lung cancer? A play on words.

Maybe for colorectal or anal cancer we could have toilet paper with daily messages on how to change our diets to help prevent colorectal cancer?

Perhaps for head and neck cancer we could have Kleenex or facial tissues to bring awareness? Every time you sneeze you impact a person with head and neck cancer?

What about walnuts for prostate cancer?

Or billiard tables with cue sticks and pool balls for testicular cancer awareness?

Hats, nail polish, shoes, shoe laces that change by month for each specific cancer and the respective months of awareness?

One could develop an entire food or clothing line for all cancers.

Heck, if we wanted, we could expand the conversation and ask why isn’t there a line of cutlery or silverware that are for surgeons? Will DaVinci cross promote a line for sushi? Or perhaps pharmaceuticals could cross brand molecular gastronomy products?

Okay, so perhaps I took this story a bit far, but I hope you get the point.

Breast cancer has done wonderful things for all of us impacted by any type of cancer. It has made it okay to say the word cancer. It has made the topic relevant and mainstream. It has given cancer a face and a voice.

It is now up to all of us that use the multiple #cancer hashtags to facilitate relevancy for the other cancers as well.

I hope next year I will be able to tell the story of buying everyone on my wish list an item that supports each specific cancer diagnosis. A story of bringing a Christmas smile to someone opening one of my presents, and a smile to a cancer patient or family that my money has gone to support.

As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or follow me on twitter @cancergeek


#PtExp #PX #cancer #hcldr #hccosts #hcsm #stories #storytelling #lcsm #bcsm #hcmktg #mktg #storyteller #hcbiz

One response to “Christmas Shopping And Cancer

  1. i’d be happier to see the money spent on pinkification going to research, but only a very thin slice of it does.

    A pink-ribbon NFL item costing $100 – of which there are hundreds, including Wilson Official Pink Ribbon balls for $129.95 – only delivers $3.54 to research. The NFL keeps $45. Not sure where the other $51.46 goes, but according to this piece in Business Insider ( it’s all about increasing “awareness.” I, and many others, have been on the record for years about our opinion of “awareness” – I’m mostly aware of how very sick I am every October, when the pinkification of planet Earth proceeds, while the incidence of breast cancer continues to rise. A post from 2011:

    It would be much better for #cancer to take a lesson on over-branding a disease from the Komen Pink Draperies Fiesta, and learn how to make fighting cancer less about buying more crap. Maybe make it more about defeating a deadly disease, and not “awareness” – who is not “aware” of cancer? Other than possibly a three year old.

    While we fiddle on pink violins, cancer burns on. Time to work on some real fire extinguisher science.

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