Saturday, October 1st, 2011

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and it’s a time not just for donating but raising awareness to those not yet affected by the devestating disease. I know that for many, mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers, friends, and family have been lost, which is why early detection is key. The message of October, for me, has always been about spreading this knowledge. Anyone can get breast cancer–male or female–and chances of survival are greatly improved if it is detected early.   Make sure you know your risk factors, the ones you can’t change but also the ones you can (like lifestyle behaviors).

Get Tested

  • Mammogram | This is an x-ray and can detect cancer at earlier stages, even before a lump appears. Women over 40 should have one performed every year, and if you are younger but have a family history of breast cancer, you may want to speak with your doctor about whether to get them (or other screening tests) performed earlier. Read more on mammograms.
  • Clinical Breast Exam | This is done by your doctor and part of a general exam, which should be done every three years between 20 and 39, and then every year at 40 and older. Consider asking your doctor to show you how to do a self-exam at home as well.
  • Self-Exam | It’s important to know how your breasts look and feel normally, so that you can identify any changes immediately to your doctor. has a great step-by-step guide.

And also? While we’re on this topic, and because I know the demographic here on Temptalia skews younger, so for our ladies under 26, please consider finding out whether you’re a candidate for the HPV vaccine, which can help prevent certain types of cervical cancers. Ask your doctor about it and see if it is something that you could benefit from.

Thoughts on BCA Products

When I first started Temptalia, I included several round-ups of various products involved in raising money for BCA. In the past two years that focus has lessened, because of the significant increase in brands hopping on the bandwagon. Any money raised is a great thing, but at the same time, buying a product that gives 5% back that you don’t really want or need under the auspices of helping the cause isn’t what October is about. I’m particularly leery of any product that does not specifically list the amount, e.g. “portion of proceeds” or “contribution will be made.”

For that reason, my focus is only brands/products that make significant efforts to donate and raise awareness. My motto is if you were going to buy that product anyway, why not buy one that donates X percentage/dollars to the cause?  (A lot of household items, like toilet paper and paper towels, give back!) But you’re better off donating your money (or even half of what you would have spent, in most cases) directly to a charity if you want to help.

  • Estee Lauder Companies offers a slew of products but they also do a fair amount of awareness raising. A lot of their core brands, like Clinique, offer bestselling products (e.g. something you might already buy or need to buy) that also give to the cause. I linked directly to the BCA Campaign, which includes a breakout of what brands and products are participating. Jo Malone is donating $25,000 and purchases of Jo Malone products have NO impact on that amount. Smashbox O-Gloss will donate the entire $22 purchase price to BCRF during October (AMAZING!). Most of the other brands have participating products but are only donating 10-20% of the purchase price.
  • Lisa Hoffman is donating 100% of proceeds of her Tunisian Neroli Variations 4-Vial Set ($95) to the National Breast Cancer Coalition during October.
  • Philosophy Shower for the Cure Shower Gel ($20) donates 100% of net proceeds towards Women’s Cancer Research Fund.
  • Jare Iredale Roses & Lollipop Lip Duo Locket ($30) will have 100% of profits from the sale go towards Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

If you know of a product that is donating all or most of proceeds towards the cause, feel free to let me know! I went through 200+ press releases, and these were the only ones I felt good about promoting.

Consider Donating

If and when you’re able to, consider donating to your preferred charity or organization. There are many available, and of course, all of them can benefit from additional donations. These are a few of the major organizations and some of these I’ve personally donated to over the years:

If there is another organization you’re thinking about donating to but aren’t sure about, look to see if they’ve been rated on Charity Navigator.

Discussion and debate are highly encouraged, and we expect community members to participate respectfully. When asking a question, please check the FAQ section (above) for information about purchasing, price, dupes, and the like. If you have general feedback or need technical support, please contact us.

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25 thoughts on “Breast Cancer Awareness 2011

  1. Jess

    Thank you! In the past year, I have had an aunt and a grandma diagnosed. One of my best friends had a prophylactic mastectomy at the age of 25 because she is BRCA+, and another close friend from high school just finished chemo…at the age of 27! Breast cancer is out there, and these companies are fabulous for helping to spread the word. Think pink. <3

  2. Thanks for the info. I donate to Susan Komen but didn’t realize that so much money did NOT go to the cause. I think I’ll switch to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

    Big Thanks!!

    • No problem! Definitely check them out on Charity Navigator (SO useful!) – they might spend more on fundraising or other things (they give you a breakdown of where the money goes, aside from the program/cause).

  3. Carrie

    If anything, I thank you for narrowing the list down as much as you did. Aside from the fact that, like you, I’m always suspicious of brands who don’t flat out state what they’re willing to donate, so many of the companies feel like they’re just hopping onto the bandwagon to get sales. if a company is giving away 100% of net profit on a product? THAT is dedication and that is worthy of a purchase if it was already on your radar.

  4. Kim

    Thank you for pointing out that so many items promoted as BCA “friendly” only donate a tiny percentage of a product’s net earnings! My mom is a survivor of 8 years and I lost my aunt this year to a very aggressive type of breast cancer, so this is a cause close to my heart.

  5. Angela

    Great post! Thanks for all the info!

  6. effie

    are you for raising more or awareness?

    if you are for awareness, as you state, then ALL of these products RAISE AWARENESS – maybe to an annoying point…

    i forget how old you are, but you don’t remember i’m sure when there was almost no products

    i wish they would address some of the real causes, but give people a break, if they’re actually raising awareness..

    i have never bought a product just because it’s BCA month, but i have found some great products that way

    i have an aunt who had breast cancer, is doing fine…i thought her smoking was a huge problem…but even bigger can be ALCOHOL use…who really talks about that? you also need to increase your fiber intake, and maybe even try to get hormones balanced…

    i just lost a family member, from another form of cancer…it’s so much more heartbreaking than i thought…i wish all those attacked by cancer the best, but i just think you’re wrong to only focus on a few products, and i hope you don’t delete this

    • Effie,

      There are products that are created or done to raise awareness but the reality is it is another way for companies to make money, and these days, many of them seem more like this than truly raising awareness. Donating an unspecified amount of proceeds could be a penny for all we know, and by and large, there’s not much we can do to ensure a proper amount goes. For instance, Estee Lauder Companies–other than a couple of brands–does not donate 100% but they DO raise a great deal of awareness. If you disagree, that’s fine, but please respect my opinion.

      Also, in the first paragraph, I spoke on understanding what risk factors you have per your lifestyle, e.g. smoking or drinking, that you can control and change.

  7. Veronica

    Thank you for putting this list together! Very helpful and informative.

    Fair warning to women who want HPV, you may want to contact your insurance provider first to make sure it’s covered. There are still a couple of companies weaseling out of the cost by adhering to a couple of (ridiculously sexist) excuses not to give it, though with the spread of HPV now shown to extend to men, that should be on the decrease. Additionally, Gardasil is a three part intramuscular injection, and that all three appointments are necessary to get the full effect of the vaccine. (It’s also an intradermal injection, so it’s a somewhat painful shot, too. It will cause some muscular bruising.)

    • Veronica

      Minor edit to my comment – I meant that it’s an intramuscular shot, not intradermal.

    • I can vouch for the bruising – my first one hurt worse than the other two, though they’re not too bad overall. Of course, reactions/pain thresholds will vary :)

      • Veronica

        The worst I’ve heard is from a friend of mine who had radiating muscle pain up and down her arm nearly a month after she got the first shot – though in her case, she likely had a reaction to the vaccine itself. It didn’t stop her from womaning it up and getting the last two, but still. Ouch.

        • That sounds awful!! I remember the soreness lasting 2-3 days and going, “I don’t remember shots hurting this much!” but that would be terrible.

          • Cath

            That shot hurt soooo bad! But it is worth going through the pain. I got it here in QC before it being paid by health insurance (for those who doesnt know, here in canada most of health services are paid by a public system). I was fortunate enough that my insurance paid a good part of it cause it is expensive. Now, girls AND boys received gardasil in school here. Also, in regard to breast cancer, i think it is better to take the money you would spend on a product and to give it directly to an organisation (like La Fondation du Cancer du sein du Québec). My aunt had breast cancer a year and a half ago and she is a proud survivor. We all got a pink ribbon tattoed on our foot.

  8. sparky

    Where did you get the information about getting a mammogram before the age of 40? It’s not recommended for younger women, because the breast tissue is denser for younger women, and the test is often non-diagnostic in this situation.

    Also studies have been done on self-breast exams, and they’ve shown that they do not prevent cancer.

    • If you have a history of breast cancer in the family, it is advised that you talk with your doctor about when you should start getting mammograms – e.g. maybe you wouldn’t get them at 20, but you might start at 35. Please read this post, which speaks on what women who are high risk (which is exactly what I mentioned – if you have a history of it, which is generally a factor for high risk patients) –

      I don’t think I said that self exams prevent cancer – it’s about early detection. Many women only go to the doctor once every few years, but if you do a regular self exam and know how your breasts look and feel, and you DO notice something amiss, you can go speak with your doctor about it. Or maybe you don’t have health insurance, so you can’t get mammograms or see a doctor – but you can do a self exam for free. It is certainly not the best method for detection but still a recommended step.

      • sparky

        It’s about who you talk to. If you go to, they have a certain agenda. They’re very aggressive about screening, even when the benefit isn’t clear. There has been a lot of controversy in the medical community (and the mainstream media) in the past several years about breast cancer screening in young women. Yes, the evidence definitely benefits women older than 50. Younger than that—the scientific literature shows that you start detecting things that aren’t cancer, and subsequently subjecting women to physical and emotional trauma for nothing. Not every lump in your breast is cancer.

        The whole point of things like mammograms and self breast exams is for early detection—and the point of early detection is to prevent clinically significant cancer from manifesting. Otherwise, there is no real benefit. You’re making statements based on stuff you read on, but go to the United States Preventative Task Force site (which actually weighs the benefits and risks and looks at the most recent literature), and it gives a “D” recommendation to self-breast exams. “The USPSTF recommends against teaching breast self-examination”

        Breast cancer is important, but the truth is that it is not the number one killer of women (which is heart disease), it’s not even the number one cancer killer in women. The breast cancer orgs just have really great PR—and everyone in the public health community knows it.

        • I’m really not here to argue – I’ve explicitly stated to speak with your doctor – because I am certainly not a doctor – about screenings and making sure you’re doing the things you need to do. I’ve had my own personal primary care doctor tell me to do self-exams and teach me the proper way (as well as monitor my technique), so based on my personal experience, the information I have been given by trustworthy sources is different. Thank you for sharing your information.

          Just because something isn’t the #1 killer doesn’t make it less important or not worth mentioning; that is a very slippery slope. There are people who believe in a variety of causes, and we could argue the importance of such causes – we each have causes more important to us than others.

  9. Emily O.

    Thank you thank you thank you Christine for citing the amounts/ percentages donated from the sale of a product. There is so much shadiness regarding a companies profits on these products. I could by be bothered to buy any more pink products from companies patting themselves on the back for donating some pittance. Cheers to those companies who put their money where their pink products are!

    • No problem, Emily! I think it’s important that we’re aware of how much is (or isn’t) going and figure out why we’re buying the product. If you LOVE that pink lipstick that also donates to BCA, that’s great, but if you just want to support the cause, you might find that $1 from $20 lipstick purchase makes less sense than donating $5 or $10 outright. Estee Lauder doesn’t donate 100% of proceeds but they do a lot for awareness (like they’re handing out free ribbons and pamphlets, if I read their press release correctly), so then I still feel good about promoting them. But it does feel like many brands do it less for charity than they do for “Ooh, look, we’re participating!” The cynic in me can’t ignore that!

  10. Catherine

    Where did you see about the Smashbox donation? I just looked at their page and can’t find it, because I was wondering if it counted if you buy the gloss at Sephora also. I had a sample before and liked it, but backed off after I saw the price. Would make me feel much better buying it now since it all goes to a good cause.

  11. Nish

    Also inquire about a little known procedure called a thermoscan done by a device called the “turtle”.

  12. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Christine! These kinds of posts are one of the reasons I’m happy to be a reader of your blog.