Pink Blazers for Funeral Directors Are The New Breast Cancer Awareness Low


Families can request the staff wear these blazers to honor loved ones whose death or life was associated with breast cancer.

Delaney Walker, a staff writer for the Cleveland Daily Banner recently reported that “Pink Blazers Are the New Black for Funeral Home.”

Wear the Pink LLC is company responsible for this innovation; Hardwick Clothes (Cleveland) and FD (Funeral Director) Suits handle the production.

“I have always wanted to contribute a product or service that would have an impact in a loving and caring way to the families that the funeral director serves,”  John Yopp one of the Wear the Pink founders and a 32-year veteran of the funeral business.

According to Walker’s article, the blazers are currently being sold to funeral homes across the country. “The founders felt it would be a good outlet for families to honor loved ones who were involved with breast cancer,” she wrote. ” This includes survivors, victims and supporters.”
The idea came about after the founders of Wear the Pink toured Hardwick Clothes’ facility: “We were walking through [the] plant one day and saw this material there, and it was pink,” explained Dave Kelley, another Wear the Pink founder.  “We thought, ‘What can we do with this to tie it to Breast Cancer Awareness?’”

Kelley and company asked for several blazers to be made up as samples. The blazers were presented at the recent National Funeral Directors Association convention in Charlotte, N.C., where there were about 7,000 in attendance. “The response was overwhelming, so we decided to launch the company and take it nationwide,” Yopp said.

Ralph Buckner Jr. has already outfitted the staff of his eponymous funeral home with the pink blazers. “Families do not have to use the blazers, but they are an option for those affected by breast cancer…” Buckner said. “The funeral home sees about 10-15 people affected by breast cancer each year. These people did not necessarily die of breast cancer, but from complications caused later that began with the cancer,” Buckner told the Banner reporter.
 Per Walker’s article, according to Kelley, the company formally pledged $25,000 to the FSF prior to production. A matching amount will be given to the American Cancer Society to further breast cancer research. Kathy Wisnefski, Funeral Service Foundation executive director, is full of respect for the company.

“This is a for-profit organization who is willing to give 12 percent of their sales to our organization,” Wisnefski said. “What a generous, great thing to do from a philanthropic point-of-view.”

The blazers cost $195, which includes the 12 percent given to charitable organizations, according to Yopp.

“We are really limited in reducing the costs of the blazers due to the high costs of fabric and manufacturing costs,” Yopp said. “We definitely plan to hold the price of the blazers where they are, at least through 2013.”

Read more: Cleveland Daily Banner – Pink blazers are the new black for funeral homes

As Jack Benny would say, “Well!”

As one of 150,000 U.S. people currently living with metastatic breast cancer, pink blazers for funeral directors are an idea I find both ironic and frankly, emblematic of general public’s woeful misunderstanding of breast cancer.

Funeral choices are largely dictated by one’s faith tradition and personal preference. I would ask those involved with my final arrangements to maintain the dignity of the occasion. If an undertaker could be mistaken for a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant, this might suggest that the levee of good fashion sense has been breached.

More to the point, the Wear the Pink brain trust seems to be PAINFULLY misinformed about who dies from breast cancer and why. And, although it is very generous of Wear the Pink to provide matching funds to the American Cancer Society, there is something very disquieting about the $25,000 pledge to the Funeral Service Foundation, a group that  funds scholarships for mortuary science students as well as funeral professionals.

No one dies from early stage breast cancer. People die when the disease spreads beyond the breast, typically to some combination of the lung, liver, brain and bones. So, when Mr. Buckner said, “These people did not necessarily die of breast cancer, but from complications caused later that began with the cancer,” he is WRONG.

It may be true that someone with widespread liver mets technically died of liver of failure, but what killed them was in fact breast cancer. When breast cancer spreads, it’s still breast cancer and unfortunately it still kills you.

In 2012,  metastatic breast cancer (aka Stage IV or “mets”) is incurable. Some may be fortunate to do well with it for a long time others may succumb quickly. But there is no cure, as indeed, the funerals of 40,000 US people annually would painfully serve to underscore.

The problem—and indeed my chief objection to the pink blazers—is that it suggests some sort of weird distaff Master’s Tournament: the Donning of the Pink Blazer of Victory. Well, if you DIED from breast cancer, you didn’t win. You might have suffered nobly and been a fine example of courage to the community. Your family and friends may have rallied around you—fine—let them wear some sort of discreet badge of honor.

Some people love the color pink or may have special memories of  participating with their family and friends on fundraising walk or other event. I do understand and respect that.

But these pink blazers show the insidious creep of cause marketing. Chicken buckets, perfume and now your friendly neighborhood funeral director. It will literally follow us to the grave. How soon before we are offered pink granite headstones with a tasteful (and licensed) ribbon symbol replacing the dash between the dates of our births and deaths?

The idea of creating breast cancer awareness at a funeral seems idiotic. I don’t see how you could POSSIBLY be more aware of anything else while attending the services of someone who died from metastatic breast cancer. For me, it would truly be the final insult.

Here is my suggestion: Mothball the pink awareness blazers.  Break out the black blazers to symbolize a serious commitment toward finding a cure so that the thousands we’ve lost and will continue to lose will not have died in vain.


10 thoughts on “Pink Blazers for Funeral Directors Are The New Breast Cancer Awareness Low

  1. Raymond J. Prince says:

    Pink blazers is just poor judgement –Period

  2. I’m speechless. It is indeed the insidious creep of cause marketing, at its worst.

  3. NancyLee Coldwell says:

    Tacky with a capital T….I would come back and haunt my family if they even thought about this!!

  4. Ethel says:

    Unbelievable that we need an education program for funeral directors so that they do not insult those of us who will die from Stage 4 MBC and not “complications caused later”. These are people who are so intimately involved with the death process but all they can think of is how to make more money from the bereaved by wearing pink jackets. Give me a break!

  5. As someone whose mother died of stage IV in May 2011, I would feel incredibly insulted if the funeral directors wore pink blazers at my mother’s service. I can understand that these people may think that their cause is “noble,” but quite frankly, it’s of poor taste. It was difficult enough to spend the day with my family next to my mother’s casket, but to have some piece arbitrary pink fodder surrounding me, would just piss me off. I’m tired of those who think wearing some piece of pink clothing, jewelry, etc is making some “grand” difference in the world. Not to say we shouldn’t support the cause, but BACK UP your pink ribbons (which you wear so proudly) with actual WORK toward the cure! Those who parade around wearing whatever piece of pink shit they can purchase, but don’t actually put the work in to supporting these women frustrate me. These are living, breathing women and they deserve RESPECT and NOT to be mocked. Sorry for the rant… This post just hit home and I think you’re absolutely right… “it would truly be the final insult.” GO GIRL! 🙂

  6. boggles the mind! I feel like we;re being haunted by pink marketing, even to our graves.

  7. Erica says:

    I do not think this is appropriate at all. I am all for raising awareness but this to me is not the time or the place. At someone’s funeral we can’t be worried about the fact that science isnt there yet, they are no longer with us but lets remind ourselves of that at their funeral. Plus when someone pass’s on, no matter what disease they may have, that is not the focus of the funeral. This is just wrong!

  8. […] Source: Katherine O’Brien at ihatebreastcancer […]

  9. Jill Marshall says:

    That is the most insensitive and tacjiest thing I have ever seen!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: