Breast cancer awareness falls flat with student body

“Save the boobies.” “Pink for the cure.” “Mama get a mammogram.”

These witty slogans are none other than catchphrases for the Breast Cancer Awareness campaign, which is again sweeping campus this October — Breast Cancer Awareness Month — to raise funds for USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center’s breast cancer research.

Beginning the first week of October, “Fight On for the cure” shirts — as well as a plethora of other breast cancer merchandise in various shades of pink — popped up in the USC Pertusati Bookstore.

These shirts, which sell for $17.99 each, donate $8 from each sale to the Norris Center, according to USC Bookstores Director Daniel Archer. Archer said that 2,200 of these shirts have been sold at the campus bookstore to date.

“Buck slips” next to the cash registers at the bookstore also offer customers the opportunity to donate $1, $5 or $10, and approximately $3,500 have been raised from the slips at the bookstore alone.

An estimated $21,000 has been raised to date, all of which will be donated directly to Norris Center.

As wonderful as it is that USC’s private cancer research institute is receiving this much-needed funding, the educational and awareness efforts have been met with less enthusiasm than the introduction of well-fitted American Apparel cotton shirts that declare support for a trendy cause.

“This campaign was not necessarily student-based, but Trojan-based,” Archer said. “Most of the buyers of the shirts were alumni on game day. The events that the Norris Center planned for this campaign did not have such a student-centered viewpoint.”

Indeed, before the student body of USC is lauded for being so generous and proactive in the fight against breast cancer, the reality is that a majority of the student body was not heavily involved in the awareness month.

Events that could have easily promoted awareness on campus, such as a Race for the Cure run, guest speakers or even informative literature were absent in this campaign.

The Norris Cancer Center did not create a heightened awareness on campus; in fact, its only open demonstration of involvement with Breast Cancer Awareness Month was its one-time booth at the football game.

Essentially, the month-long campaign has revolved around persuading every member of the Trojan Family to buy Breast Cancer merchandise.

The purpose of the campaign was to raise funds — which it did with spectacular success, thanks to the marketing of the Norris Center.

“It was seamless,” Archer said about the combined efforts of the Norris and the USC bookstores. “It’s something that is easily merchandised.”

Undeniably, there is something about the little pink ribbon which gives it a distinctive edge over any other symbol for fall.

September, which is nationally recognized as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, did not see an onslaught of blue ribbons and shirts at USC, despite prostate cancer claiming a statistically comparable number of victims as breast cancer.

“I can’t say why breast cancer over colon cancer or lung cancer,” Archer said. “There’s no one cancer better to support than the other. The nation just seems to be enthusiastic about this particular cause.”

Despite taking the easiest, seemingly superficial route to reach its financial goals, the Norris Cancer Center can be applauded for effectively raising funds while making breast cancer a highly present symbol on campus for the month of October.

Hopefully, this campaign can reach out to students as well as alumni to go beyond simply flaunting a sticker, and to strive to actually become more informed about breast cancer, and volunteer or donate to the cause.

It is not too late to get involved. Aside from making donations at the bookstore, you can donate online at

And if you really are craving one of those cute pink shirts, the Norris Center will be offering one free through the month of October if you stop in to get a mammogram.

Xueyou Wang is a freshman majoring in creative writing.