The Power of a New Name by guest bloggist Susan Macfarlane

What’s in a name? Talk to any expectant parent and we hear how important naming is. Some names express lovely qualities such as girls named Grace or boys called Victor. Some are revealed through translation as my granddaughter Irene’s name meaning peace.

Marketing companies, too, spend a lot of money to find catchy names for their products. Think of the success of Kleenex and Xerox which have become the standard names for most products in their industry. Some names are actually synonymous with a flop, like the Edsel car. Some names are down right scary like the War College or organizations named for a disease they work to cure.

Then, there are people whose names are changed to express their newly transformed nature. In the Bible the Apostle Paul was originally Saul. Although he had spent his former life persecuting Christians, his name was changed. While on the road toDamascus, a vision of the Christ opened his eyes to God’s redeeming love for all mankind. When queried by Jesus, the disciple Simon recognized Jesus as the Christ, the son of the living God. Upon this awesome declaration Jesus founded his church giving Simon the new name of Peter, or rock, because he had grasped the truth of Jesus’ spiritual mission.

Similarly, some organizations when they have begun to see their work in a new light, have been inspired to change their names to reflect a more positive description of their activities. And others, too, are putting out more positive and healthier messages. The TB Association has become the Lung Association. On restaurant menus some entrées are noted as healthy heart choices. The Rite Aid Stores issue their customers wellness cards instead of advertising a disease.

A few weeks ago, as the pink ribbon began appearing everywhere to support breast cancer awareness month, it occurred to me that perhaps the Breast Cancer Association might consider a name change. The current name unwittingly actually advertises the disease and the fear that goes with it. One of the most beautiful and nurturing forms of the female figure has been so repeatedly linked with the disease that it is hard to think of breast without thinking cancer.

Shakespeare knew “as a man thinketh so is he”. Medical Student Syndrome, or Nonophobia, is a condition frequently suffered by medical students when they are studying various diseases. 1

Mary Baker Eddy, a 19th century pioneer in health, spirituality and Christianity, cautioned that we should “never affirm concerning the body what we do not wish to have manifested.” 2 Her life-long search for a reliable approach to good health, led her to distinguish between thoughts that were merely human and those that come to us from God. The latter she saw – and proved through her own healing practice – as having the power to heal and save.

Without discounting at all the fear and pain women (and men) experience when diagnosed with and treated for this disease,  I’ve been pondering what the impact might be if the Association were to change its name to Breast Health.

Could a new message with a healthy image  open the door for fewer cases, greater healing and even finding a cure? A new name might also be accompanied by a new symbol. Now when I see a pink ribbon I am going to turn it right side up making a V for Victory. I am going to think  beautiful Healthy Breasts. Now there is a name change that can surely be a blessing for women and men everywhere!

  1. Baars, Bernard J. (2001). In the Theater of Consciousness: The Workspace of the Mind. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-514703-0.
  2. Science and Health, p. 219
    • Photo uploaded from © GLOW IMAGES 

Susan Macfarlane likes learning about and sharing information regarding Christian Science, spirituality, health and religion.  She is a Christian Science practitioner in Baltimore, MD. She and her husband are opera fans. They share a house with their son and three granddaughters.


  1. Helena Rhonda (ronnie) Bullion

    Susie, Thanks so much for this inspiring message.

  2. What a wonderful blog! It is a shame that so many beautiful colors are now automatically associated with some dread disease. I have spoken to quite a few women that are going through breast cancer treatment, and they all dread the color pink. Breast Health Awareness is much more uplifting.

    • Thank you for your reply. I really like your name Breast Health Awareness. Whenever we see a pink ribbon or pink cleats on an NFL football player, we must say to ourselves why they’re advertising beautiful breast health awareness. We won’t fall into the trap of fear or give power to what we don’t want.