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Unless you’re a fashionista, you may not know pink is the hot color for this fall and winter. But I’m guessing you probably do know that pink-- style mavens are calling it blush--is the color signature for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It wasn’t so long ago that breast cancer treatment and research seemed a low priority. Donna, the daughter of my mother’s best friend, died from breast cancer back when most people assumed—correctly-- the diagnosis meant death. Years later, I watched two of my close friends cope with the shock of a breast cancer diagnosis, struggle through surgery, reconstruction, and grueling rounds of chemotherapy. They survived and are cancer free. Too many women still die of breast cancer today, but arguably more women have lived because of the targeted focus and funding promoted by the Breast Cancer Awareness effort.

But, every year I feel under assault when the month long pink campaign kicks off. As I’ve noted in the past, what a handmade salmon colored ribbon once symbolized, is now a near universal pink explosion of commercial products and commercialized events. And I remain upset that the multimillion-dollar fundraising effort time and again shortchanges the coffers of the cause, attracts scammers, and too often provides charitable cover for corporations looking to polish a tattered image.

Meanwhile, the women (and some men) who are most likely to die from breast cancer are, for the most part, out of the spotlight. These are breast cancer patients diagnosed with stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer. The cancer that spreads or metastasizes from the breast --attaching to the lungs, spine, or lymph nodes. Jennifer, diagnosed at age 35, said her doctor told her her disease was “treatable, but not curable.”

Stage 4 patients like Jennifer say their disease is the elephant in the pink room, even though metastatic breast cancer patients are a third of all breast cancer victims. But, according to the advocacy group Metavivor, only 2 percent of the research is aimed at curing metastatic disease.

Metavivor argues for raising money for specific research, which could uncover some clues about this most deadly form of breast cancer. On its website the group makes this pointed claim: “100% of all donations from our supporters are strictly allocated to our research grants. Period. Every Penny.” That’s more than the ubiquitous pink fundraisers can prove.

I am sorry that October’s full throated pink themed advocacy does not seem fully to embrace the mother, sister, daughters who need it most. And I am sorry that I am now deeply suspicious of an otherwise worthy cause to find a cure for breast cancer. But when I think about the breast cancer victims who don’t make it, I am also sorry I must take off the rose colored glasses.

>> Callie Crossley is the host of Under the Radar, and her weekly commentaries for WGBH News can be heard Monday mornings.