From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement
...the environmental breast cancer movement is well positioned to use its breast cancer work as a way to contribute not only to the eradication of the disease itself but also to the environmental health of all humans and other living beings.
When I was diagnosed with Stage II invasive ductile carcinoma, I was angry not just because I now had cancer, but because no one seemed to be talking about its causes or, better yet, prevention. When my husband spied an opportunity for me to review From Pink to Green, I jumped at the chance: finally, someone was addressing prevention.
From Pink to Green consists of eight chapters, useful notes, and a largely accurate index of the names of researchers, cancer-related organizations, and several score topics. The first chapter, "A Movement in the Making," considers a postcard from 1994 depicting breast cancer survivor and activist Raven Light. She stands with her hand on her hip while holding a sign that reads, "Invisibility Equals Death." Light is bare-chested, her mastectomy scar exposed. The postcard says the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer increased from one in twenty in 1964 to one in eight by 1994, but what does this mean? That the incidence of breast cancer in women has tripled? That the rates of diagnosis have tripled? Both? Something else? The already visually arresting postcard implicitly asks whether the dominant paradigm of breast cancer research—diagnosis, treatment, and cure—overlooks something even more fundamental: prevention.
Ley's fascinating account is multi-sited and multi-method in scope. She volunteered in both a small, one-room office at WomenCARE (Women's Cancer Advocacy, Resources and Education) and at the American Cancer Society, and was also a research associate for the environmental health scientist Devra Lee Davis. She thus simultaneously inhabits the worlds of social activism and scientific research.
Much of the text is devoted to the science of multiple exposures to cancer-causing pathogens. Readers will appreciate how xenoestrogens "share chemical properties with the hormone estrogen and can act on the body's cells and tissue as false estrogen molecules, disrupting the ability of natural estrogen to function normally." They will be challenged to find that phthalates found in cosmetics, deodorants, shampoos, plastics are known breast cancer carcinogens and have been linked to increased rates of testicular sterility in male offspring of women using these products.
Because From Pink to Green shines the light on precautionary prevention, not secondary cure, I want to quote from Mary O'Brien, breast cancer survivor and environmental health activist: _Our breasts are simply ONE marvelous part in Earth's system... If we're going to put our bodies and our breasts back together... we're going to have to restore the hormone systems of the frogs. ... We're going to have to put estuaries, streams, grasslands, the winds and the ozone layer back together. ... We are going to have to reconstruct our agriculture so that farms are not hazardous chemical sites... we're going to have to consider what it means to know and care for children, to avoid forcing them into a world that has no room for anything but humans.__From Pink to Green_ is designed for women's studies and public health courses. I will share it with other women whom I have met through my experience with breast cancer.