All About Boobs


Last year I wrote about my suspicion of breast cancer after I found a small node during a self-exam. Even though the results of my first mammogram came back normal, breast cancer is something that has been in my mind since I was a girl. At age 12, I spent my summer vacation nursing my Grandmother who had had a radical mastectomy. The images of the vast mutilation wound and the color of her skin after the radiotherapy sessions, remain vivid in my memory.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among all women regardless of ethnicity, and the most common cause of death for Hispanic women. As a Hispanic woman with a family history of breast cancer, I am aware of my odds and keep them present, because every day I look at my husband and my son and I can’t imagine not seeing them again.

As the popularity of the pink ribbon increased in the 90’s when it was established as the symbol of the fight for the cure for breast cancer, so did the number of fund raising organizations which have generated billions of dollars in “cause marketing.”

Although I don’t doubt the good intentions of many of these foundations, sadly, there have been many scandals over the years. One foundation that leads the pack in the fight to end breast cancer is The Susan G. Komen Foundation–licensed proprietary trademark of the pink ribbon. They have been in the news for outrageous pay increases for their top executives and a diminished budget of actual research.

The other criticism roots in what is known as “pinkwashing” in cause marketing. Over the years, many companies (donors) have used the powerful call to action of the pink ribbon for profit, promising their consumers to donate a percentage of their sales, when in reality they are keeping the majority of the proceeds.

This is how it works. Let’s say a brand of running shoes publicly promises to donate 1 dollar per pair sold. Before the campaign starts it caps the maximum donation at $50,000 and never discloses it to the public. So, regardless of the success of the advertising, if 1 million pairs are sold, the amount of the donation check will still be only $50,000 Quite the return, huh?

During October–designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by the American Cancer Association–the “pinkwashing” is in full bloom. Clothing, cosmetics, drinks, fried chicken buckets, pepper spray, and even dog food display the little pink ribbon on their labels. However, this past weekend I realized that the one product that is 100% related to the female breasts–the necessary brassiere–seems to be hiding in the shadows.

Out of curiosity I surfed one of the most popular lingerie websites–Victoria’s Secret–hoping to find a huge spread about the breast cancer fight, only to find that, even though this brand is “all about boobs”–and moreover, its iconic color is pink!–it has no use for the boobs that had to be removed from their owner’s bodies in order to survive.

Surprised, I Googled other lingerie sites and found the same result: nothing. I did find an interesting article from the Today Show in 2013. It reported the story of the daughter of a breast cancer survivor who collected 120,000 signatures from women hoping to convince the Victoria’s Secret executives to produce a line for mastectomy needs. According to the article, the lingerie giant rejected the petition and concluded in a public statement that the best way they could help was “to continue funding cancer research.”

I understand that producing a complete line for a market segment that has a shorter life expectancy is not profitable. But, I guess they haven’t read the report of the American Cancer Association that estimates that the 1 in 8 women who will suffer from this disease in their lifetime, will most likely endure surgery, and, hence, will need the special post-surgery bras.

I am not calling for a boycott or anything like that. It just made me sad to discover that mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, and friends who face the fate of becoming angels before their time, have difficulty finding a bra that makes them feel like a whole woman in front of the mirror.

To my dear female readers, don’t let your guard down. Get your annual check up and mammogram, because there is too much to lose. And to my male readers, get your women to the doctor if they forgot to schedule their appointment. Early detection saves lives.

Thank you for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

This column was sponsored by Zellner Insurance Agency. Many things is life don’t have insurance. For everything else call Zellner (888) 208-8119

A hurricane named Matthew


Last week Florida endured one of the worst storms in the 11 years that I’ve been living in the Sunshine State. After killing hundreds of people in Haiti, Hurricane Matthew aimed all his strength towards the South Eastern Coast of the US, generating an avalanche of preparations from state governments, law enforcement, emergency services, and the general public.

Before this one, I dismissed all storms and thought the preparations were a marketing strategy from the hardware stores to sell stuff that hardly ever comes off their shelves. Probably it is due to my Colombian upbringing; honestly we never plan for anything and are used to being rescued by the Sacred Heart and the Virgin Mary. Continue reading “A hurricane named Matthew”

Do what I say!


Against all odds and in contradiction to all the polls, last Sunday, Colombia–my home country–voted NO in an historic referendum that was supposed to legitimize the peace deal signed by the Santos Administration and the revolutionary army FARC in a publicized ceremony seven days before.

I am not going to give an opinion about it, because I don’t live there anymore, and it feels hypocritical criticizing either side. However, I do have an opinion about the reaction of the people who voted YES and why it might explain the NO victory. Continue reading “Do what I say!”

The iNanny


With all due respect to Steve Jobs, as brilliant as he was, I don’t think he ever imagined the power that his iPad would have on society, especially on children. This machine has become my on-call assistant, always ready to entertain my little one, without complaining or asking for a pay increase.

Nonetheless, as convenient as the iPad has proven to be, last week I had a close encounter with the adverse effects of this appliance on my son’s behavior. This made me realize something I already knew, but had forgotten for a while: nothing can replace me in my son’s life.  Well… for now that he is five years old, of course. Continue reading “The iNanny”

Innocent Addiction


Last week I followed two stories in the news that shook me to my core. The first one was the picture that went viral on the Internet of a man and a woman in East Liverpool, Ohio who were completely unconscious in a car while driving with a four-year-old boy in the back seat.

According to the police officer, the driver said he was taking his passenger–the mother of the little boy–to the hospital because she had overdosed. The reality was that both, driver and the passenger, were turning blue and needed a shot of Narcan to reverse the deadly effect of heroin. Continue reading “Innocent Addiction”

9/11: Unforgotten Pain


Last Friday I had a dentist appointment at 10 a.m. to check on the acute sensitivity of one of my upper molars. I’m a 100% chicken with respects to dentistry work, so I dreaded the visit for a couple weeks. However, the pain started to get worse and the fear of an overnight emergency on the weekend pushed me to go.

The hygienist took some x-rays and said that maybe my sinus or grinding was causing the pain. This gave me hope. Then, the dentist came in, took a look at the x-rays, and applied heat to the troubled tooth, which made me jump like a spring. He sat up straight, took his glasses off and said, “I’m sorry, you need a root canal.Continue reading “9/11: Unforgotten Pain”

Love Burns


Over the weekend, my husband saw in the news the story of a young woman in Clearwater, Florida who was charged with second degree arson for torching a man’s vehicle. Apparently she wanted to attempt revenge on her ex-boyfriend by burning his car, but ended up torching the wrong one. The owner of the vehicle sent the video to the police department and days later she was apprehended.

I don’t know what her boyfriend did to her, but the story served me well to kid my husband after we both failed to remember our eighth wedding anniversary last week. I joked with my hubby asking, “Aren’t you glad I am not like her?”  Continue reading “Love Burns”