A heart film to watch before “Pinktober” arrives

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

We’re approaching the Pink season, my heart sisters. It’s that time of year when breast cancer awareness campaigns and their accompanying corporate marketing shills rev into high gear. Last Pinktober, we saw pink buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, pink-handled Tasers, and (yes, seriously) pink Smith & Wesson handguns, each somehow helping us to be more aware of breast cancer.

What could possibly top what breast cancer survivor and author Barbara Ehrenreich calls this “cult of pink kitsch” again this year?

From my perspective as a 30+ year veteran in the public relations field, I have to say that my friends working in breast cancer fundraising have done a fabulous job in raising awareness of their cause. So fabulous, in fact, that they have erroneously convinced women that breast cancer is our biggest health threat.

It is not, of course.  This year, heart disease will kill six times more women than breast cancer will.  In fact, heart disease kills more women each year than all forms of cancer combined.  Continue reading “A heart film to watch before “Pinktober” arrives”

The concept of ‘mansplaining’ explained for you . . .

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

Regular readers already know how in love I am with the “Just a Little Heart Attack” film from the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women heart health campaign this year. In three short minutes, this film manages to do what countless other heart disease awareness campaigns I’ve seen fail to pull off: to be both hilarious and frightening, packed with life-saving education on common heart attack symptoms in women. The actress Elizabeth Banks – who also directed this short film, and whose real-life mother and sister have heart issues – plays a harried, multi-tasking mother trying desperately to get her family up, dressed, fed and ready to head out the door on time, all while completely ignoring her own worsening heart attack symptoms.

Elizabeth gets every small detail of this scenario pitch-perfect, including:

  • her “I’m fine!” reassurances as she reels with nausea, chest pressure, dizziness, jaw pain, neck pain, arm pain, weakness and profuse sweating
  • her apology to the 911 phone dispatcher for being a bother
  • and (my favourite scene!) her abject dismay at surveying the messy kitchen, knowing the ambulance is already en route and she won’t have time to tidy up before it arrives!

Women who have actually lived through this will probably recognize every excruciatingly familiar moment of what it’s like to experience a heart attack.

But noted health journalism watchdog Gary Schwitzer over at Health News Review felt otherwise about this film, which he criticized in a post called Disease-Mongering Du Jour: Heart Disease in Young Women.   Continue reading “The concept of ‘mansplaining’ explained for you . . .”

A heart film to watch before the “Pink Season” gets here

We’re approaching the Pink Season, my heart sisters. It’s that time of year when breast cancer awareness campaigns and their accompanying corporate marketing shills rev into high gear. Last Pinktober, we saw pink buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken, pink-handled Tasers, and (yes, seriously) pink Smith & Wesson handguns, each somehow helping us to be more aware of breast cancer. What could possibly top what breast cancer survivor and author Barbara Ehrenreich calls this “cult of pink kitsch” again this year? (See also: Think Before You Pink for some important questions* to ask about that pink ribbon).

From my perspective as a 37+ year veteran in the public relations field, I have to say that the breast cancer folks have done a fabulous job in raising awareness of their cause. So fabulous, in fact, that they have erroneously convinced women that breast cancer is our biggest health threat.

It is not, of course.  This year, heart disease will kill six times more women than breast cancer will.  In fact, heart disease kills more women than all forms of cancer combined.  Yet heart patients and those who care for us seem to be oddly content sitting quietly on the back burner of that massive pink stovetop.

So in the interests of offering some balance here amidst a torrent of pinkwashing, I invite you to watch this 3-minute film called “Just a Little Heart Attack” from the American Heart Association.  Continue reading “A heart film to watch before the “Pink Season” gets here”