by Jennifer Bringle
Medically Reviewed by:
Teresa Hagan Thomas PHD, BA, RN
by Jennifer Bringle
Medically Reviewed by:
Teresa Hagan Thomas PHD, BA, RN
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Discover gifts that give back for every stage of the cancer journey. These products come from companies that give to breast cancer causes or have been started by those touched by it.
Once you’re diagnosed with breast cancer, that iconic pink ribbon takes on new meaning. For some of us, seeing that ribbon on products that have nothing to do with the disease — that don’t benefit research or support those living with it — can feel like an affront.
This is known as “pink-washing,” aka slapping a pink ribbon on products as a marketing ploy rather than an actual attempt to do good. This type of sales tactic seems to uptick during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, but these less-than-altruistic uses of pink can occur year-round.
As a clapback to pink-washing, below is an assortment of products from companies owned by people who are undergoing treatment for or who have survived breast cancer, some of which benefit breast cancer research and support for those in treatment.
Jennifer Bringle is a cancer survivor and freelance writer who is currently working on a memoir about her post-cancer experience.
When Diana Mendoza was diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time at age 27 in 2005, her world shifted.
After going through multiple rounds of chemo, bilateral mastectomy, and 5 years on breast cancer medication Tamoxifen, she enjoyed 13 years of remission before her cancer recurred in her chest wall at age 40.
During her second bout with the disease, Mendoza developed a nightly ritual: write a prayer, place it under a candle, and light the wick. This small act gave her strength during treatment and also inspired her to found Never Alone Candles — hand-poured coconut wax candles free from parabens and phthalates.
Mendoza said she hopes Never Alone Candles bring others the calm that lighting a candle brought her.
“If my candles can become a source of solace, even if just for a moment, then I’ve achieved my mission,” she said.
Tiffany Vestal said the year she was diagnosed with breast cancer was one of the best of her life, though she admits that’s odd.
She struggled with the side effects of treatment and the fear that comes with diagnosis, but Vestal said cancer also afforded her many gifts.
After she recovered, Vestal vowed to do the things she really wanted, especially travel.
Traveling in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, Vestal encountered artisans creating beautiful home goods and personal accessories to support themselves. Vestal and her business/travel partner Ginger Shields knew they wanted to help, so they founded Intertwined for Good.
The company works with mostly women artisans from five countries as well as Afghan refugees in North Carolina to create handmade decor, furnishings, and accessories. The partnership not only helps women artisans support themselves — it also empowers them and gives them a sense of agency.
Vestal said the perspective she gained during her cancer diagnosis is what made Intertwined possible.
“I am so grateful for the gift of perspective which inspired me to see the world and find a way to make a difference,” she said.
During chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer, Cody Gapare struggled to find false eyelashes that looked and felt natural. Conventional false lashes left her with smudged makeup and frustration because she didn’t have any natural lashes to attach them to.
That experience inspired her to found Eyelure C-Lash. The lash line is designed specifically for those who’ve lost their lashes with a flexible invisible band that aids in application. Eyelure C-Lash even earned an Allure Best of Beauty Award in 2020.
Gapare said that while her cancer experience was painful, it also helped her find a purpose that fulfills her every day.
“This has helped me to look beyond my own pain and help others,” she said. “It’s also put life in perspective in so many ways.”
After learning she had breast cancer during her 20s, Anna Crollman felt alone as she navigated treatment and the mental health and body image issues that came with it. As she became more involved in the breast cancer community, she found other women had similar experiences.
While healing both physically and mentally, Crollman discovered the practice of positive self-affirmation as a means of bolstering her mood. That discovery led Crollman to create Talk to Yourself Like a Friend affirmation cards for breast cancer patients and survivors.
Featuring illustrations by Amarylis Hibon of The Cute Feminist, the cards offer positive thoughts designed to help those experiencing cancer at all stages of their journey.
“I wanted to create something physical that would help cancer thrivers through this difficult process and be a way loved ones could show support for the invisible mental impact of cancer,” Crollman said. “Being able to turn this vision into a deck of cards that are inspirational and represent all aspects of the cancer experience through diverse imagery to help heal and empower has been extremely rewarding.”
Searching the internet for information and support after her breast cancer diagnosis, Kellie Whitton mostly found worst-case scenarios, charities soliciting donations, and no shortage of pink-bedecked products. She began talking with other patients and survivors, and those conversations led her to create CaraKit.
The company offers gift boxes specifically for chemo, surgery, and radiation that are geared toward women, as well as a men’s kit. Each kit contains products that are chemical-free and designed to help during each stage of the cancer journey, with items such as hydration drops, vitamin E oil, and front-closure pajamas.
“My company lives at the intersection of advice from women who have been through [cancer] and those who love them and want to provide a gift that’s comforting, comprehensive, and — most of all — useful for the actual needs of side effects of treatment,” Witton said.
Though she hasn’t had breast cancer herself, K’lani co-founder Katie Moss lost her mother at a young age after a difficult experience with the disease. Her aunt and cousin have since been diagnosed as well.
After her loss, Moss said she wants to do everything she can to keep her mother’s memory alive.
After founding K’lani — a line of bracelets that double as hair ties — Moss and business partner Monica Delgrosso created their Hope collection. All funds from the Hope collection benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research.
“We named this set ‘Hope’ because it’s the one thing we wish for every person who hears the devastating news from the doctor and what every patient needs to hold onto through their cancer journey,” Moss said. “We pray that our donations will help fund the hope of better treatments to come.”
Whether you’re someone going through cancer treatment or looking for a thoughtful gift for someone you love, the products above offer practical benefits as well as support for the people and organizations that make a difference.
Medically reviewed on December 06, 2023
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