Tag Archives: health

Easter has become my Thanksgiving . . .

31 Mar

Last weekend I was invited to attend a blogging summit. The summit brought together cancer survivors (some 15 or more years out, some just a year out and some still in treatment). All of us blog or have blogged about our experience. We were also joined by medical practitioners (of many types: oncologists, radiology oncologists, naturopathic MDs, nutritionists, lymphedema specialists, nurses and and more) as well as care providers (who also blog) and other writers, journalists. I will write more about the blogging summit in a future post.

For now I want to simply say that being able to meet the amazing cancer survivors (some of whom I had only known online, in the virtual world, and some I had never met – virtual or otherwise) in person was truly incredible. I felt like I was meeting soul mates. There was just an immediate understanding of all things amongst us. That is the best way I can describe it.

There is a loneliness that cancer can visit upon you; does visit upon you I think (at least it did for me). I felt it most prominently four years ago – when all I wanted to do was to escape my body, run from it since it was, after all, seemingly trying to destroy me. It was a very strange sensation – one of being removed from seemingly everyone – despite the conscious and amazing presence that so many individuals in my life made to be there for me. I still felt so isolated. I was the one that could die from it and I was the one that had chemo coursing through my veins . . . you get my drift.

When cancer hits you are truly alone – at least with your cancer and your body. No one else has exactly the same thing, no one else will react exactly the same way (to treatment, to fatigue, to the pain, to the fear, to it . . . to cancer). No one can really tell you when you are in the throes of it whether you will make it or whether you will survive. And all around you there are both stories of survival and life as well as that of loss and death. And none of it makes any sense.

So back to the blogging summit. CTCA (Cancer Treatment Centers of America) hosted their second “blogger’s summit” in Arizona. I was fortunate enough to be invited . . . wow was I fortunate.

I met so many wonderful and amazing individuals at the blogger’s summit. To say that there is a kinship amongst those of us who are “survivors” and writers does not really quite capture it; not the depth of it anyway. It is something indescribable and quite frankly took me a bit by surprise. And, it is beginning to fill a void that I have felt for some time.  That sense of being removed from those around you; that loneliness . . . some of it that still lingers is melting away . . . a little. Meeting these wonderful people, with whom we have shared experience (that we wish we did not share) has helped me to feel less alone; less fearful.

The moment I became a cancer patient I became different. I was on the outside, removed somehow from everyone else . . . lonely.

At the summit we spoke about many things, there were presenters and questions etc. But, what was absolutely the most meaningful was the time with others who have been through, or cared for someone who has been through cancer (because they understand). We joked about cancer – not something everyone is comfortable doing. And we shared our stories, some of our fears and we talked about a future without cancer and survivorship. This was a room full of activists – women and men who want to spare others from having to either go through this disease or to at least spare them from having to go through it perhaps the way we did. And of course, we don’t want to go through it again ourselves.

I am so grateful for the time with these amazing individuals. And I look forward to these new friendships.

I am four years out from my diagnosis. I began treatment the week of Easter.

As someone who was raised Catholic, Easter has always had some meaning for me. But it is all the more meaningful for me now. Four years ago it was my first Easter with my youngest nephew . . . just a little baby then (who has now grown up into an exceptionally bright, talkative, engaging and delightful four and a half your old boy). That first Easter with him was very surreal.

A week into chemo, still a full head of hair (that was due to fall out) and the ever present thoughts of whether I would be there for his next Easter . . . all of that was surreal. I remember drinking up every moment with him and with my family that day. No one competed with me to hold him . . . the newest baby in our family. No one took him from my lap. No one. And although it was never said – we all knew why: it might be the last time I got to hold that baby.

I actively pushed away thoughts of whether he would he ever know his Auntie. But, I know it was a very present and real theme of that day, for all of us . . . for all of us except for the baby 🙂

Now he is four and a half. He knows his Auntie.

He pushes away pictures of me where I am bald and says “no, no, no”. . . he knows it is me in those bald photos. But somehow he knows that it was sick Auntie or at least not the Auntie he wants to see. And, in spite of the fact that some of those bald pictures with him are my absolute favorite, I kind of like that he now pushes those photos away . . .

These are a few of my very favorite pictures I possess:

April 2009, my nephew’s first Easter, a few days after my first round of chemo and a few weeks before I would be bald.

More of the same day . . . the only family member who could truly freely enjoy the day . . . what a gift he was and is . . .

July 2009, was still going through chemo. This is one of my favorite pictures . . . but, my nephew doesn’t like it 🙂 So I keep it to myself 🙂

So on Easter of 2009 I wasn’t sure if I would make it to Easter of 2010. Easter 2010 came, and I decorated Easter eggs for my nephew’s first Easter egg hunt. I was still in treatment then, very tired and still not sure I would make it to another Easter. But, again, my nephew, aware of none of these things, was an incredible source of joy and energy for me. Here he is delighting in his very first Easter Egg Hunt . . . that I was very grateful to be around for . . .

Happy Easter! My nephew Garrett, sheer delight!

Easter 2010 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Sunday and to those who are celebrating Easter, Happy Easter. I hope for many more Easters for all of of us.

Much love and peace,

Lisa

Coming up for air . . .

11 Dec

I don’t even know where to begin. I have started to write a blog post so many times in the past several months, but have not been able to finish one. I have so many “saved drafts” of what should be a simple, easy thing to do – writing a blog post – but nothing. I haven’t been able to get past the first few paragraphs because if I were to continue with something I would actually make public, well. then it would not be true.

So instead, my only contribution lately has been to re-iterate my complete disdain for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Nancy Brinker et. al. and that is about as far as I can get.

I just haven’t been able to speak personally here at all. It is just too much.

It is all fine and good when all you have to say is that the coast is clear, things are getting better, “I’m feeling stronger every day”, “everything is so much better now”, “cancer is behind me”, oh and let’s not forget my favorite: “I’m so grateful”.

First of all, I am grateful. Grateful to have celebrated, just a few day ago, another birthday. A birthday that a few years ago I had about a 50/50 chance of having . . . so yes, I am really, really, really grateful.

But, for some reason, as I make my way back to a more normal life post cancer, I am finding it harder and harder to cope with post cancer life. Because, you see, there is no real return to your life before cancer, there is no “cancer is behind me” – at least not in the sense that cancer ends and you go right back to the way things were before. And, I am not saying that I want to go back to the way things were before entirely. But, let’s just say that I liked feeling like I had a path and I knew what that path was and I was able to handle my life.

So I haven’t had much to say here. I jumped in only once during the month of October and that was simply because some idiot posted a nasty (and mostly just ignorant)  comment on one of my posts from last year where I asked Komen to leave me alone. I had to respond to this person because, well, I had to. I highly doubt that my reply has convinced this person to stop drinking the Komen Koolaid, but, I gave it my best shot.

I find it is easier to express myself in areas cancer related when it is confined to the following situations 1) talking with someone who is newly diagnosed and who needs some support, encouragement (“look at me, I am fine, you will be too”, etc.) or 2) calling out Komen for their misleading use of “for the cure” when in fact they (in my opinion) are more interested in their own commercial branding, the PINKWASHING of corporations and the continual re-perpetuation of lining their own Komen pockets and the pockets of those companies for whom they sell their pink ribbon in the name of pink washing . . . NOT the cure they constantly profess. (For those who have not heard of the term “pinkwashing” it refers to the practice of companies who produce products that actually cause or increase the risk of cancer paying for a pink ribbon – a “for the cure” stamp of approval – which then leads people to further purchase these cancer causing products, consume them and actually feel good about it). Pinkwashing is bad. But perhaps one of the most horrific things that Komen does is to to claim that they are “for a cure” and yet only donate somewhere between 14% and 19% of the money they raise in the name of a cure to research. (Some years Komen has raised nearly $400 million dollars – just think that if instead of only donating about 14% of that money to research, they donated 50% or 80% . . . now that would be something, wouldn’t it)?

See . . . this is all I feel comfortable writing about. It IS important to tell this story of Komen – the very true, very wrong story that IS Komen.

BUT, I have a life. And that life is one that has become increasingly difficult to share about here, online. I have felt guilty about not sharing here. I feel as though I have abandoned a commitment that I made. There are a group of women bloggers who are devoted and passionate about writing – this is true awareness (and it is awareness that Komen does NOT provide). There are women that have taken up the cause in every way and continue to do so, they don’t give up – women like Anne Marie at Chemobrainfog, Kathi at The Accidental Amazon, Phillippa at Feisty Blue Gecko, Nancy at Nancy’s Point, and so many others (I have so many to add to my “blogroll” here. In fact, my next post will be a list of bloggers I think you should follow, that I wish I had more time to follow). And sadly there are so many newly diagnosed women who are now joining us here on the blogosphere.

In the beginning I wrote to let family and friends know how I was doing. It was far easier than making phone calls since most of my days were about fighting with my insurance company and simply keeping up with treatment and the sometimes 6 medical appointments in one week. It was a full time job.

Now as I have returned to my real full time job there are many adjustments to make. It has been hard. There was a cancer scare last summer that seemed to trail into the fall and take over the past several months. Fortunately all turned out well. But, it was a series of tests, biopsies and finally a surgery to remove the (thankfully) not so offending tissue. It wasn’t fun. But, as the anesthesiologist told me before I went into surgery last month, “this will be a breeze compared to what you’ve been through”

LOL

I didn’t know whether to find peace in that statement or to simply cry. I did take solace in that whatever was coming was not going to be as bad as whatever had happened before. But, it did really strike a chord with me – that this surgery was going to “be a breeze”. My life since 2009 has been anything but a breeze. But, whose life is? I recall days I could barely walk and the friends that would take me on walks because I couldn’t go alone and so desperately wanted to walk . . . they went with me, walked as slow as I needed to go so that I could get that mile in if I could. Those were some days.

And now I can run. And now I can work a forty hour work week (and then some). And now I am getting my life back. But, there is an expense that comes with that – a lack of balance I guess. I am grateful to be rebuilding a business I had to close down because of cancer. I am grateful for the opportunity to start over. But, I am tired. It is so hard and it is so difficult.

To be reliable in my business, I have to be unreliable in my personal life. That stinks. I hate that. But, what choice do I have? I have been clawing my way back with every ounce of my being to regain whatever I can – physically, financially. To do those two things I have little time or energy for anything else. I am trying to create a new version of my business, one that will fund a more balanced life. But, until then I am working very long hours after which I pretty much just go to bed. I communicate with few people and go out rarely other than work related things. I am determined, so determined to get my life back. But, I am grateful for what I have today and I am hopeful for a future that enables me to do more of what I want.

I miss spending time with friends and family. I miss having time to connect with my friends and family. And, I miss writing here too. I hope to be back in more ways than I am now. But, I am here and so grateful for that. This most recent birthday was amazing. I truly did not think back in early 2009 that I would be here now in 2012. I will never forget what my doctor told me when I asked her if I could survive this. She said, “The best thing in your favor is your youth and that you are physically strong . . . fight”

Those were chilling words for me. When I pressed for statistics I was told not to think about numbers (of course this was because the numbers for me were not good). But, that time is gone now. Those days are over. And now I look toward a future where hopefully I will remain cancer free.

It is hard to keep your eye on that prize sometimes . . . I have lost three friends to cancer in this past year alone. I have seen two more friends diagnosed with cancer. It is an epidemic and it seems to be one that is affecting younger and younger women. Of course I am no scientist. I am simply going by what I see. We need to do something. Komen is not it. (I know, I always come back to that). But, clearly what they are doing is not working. We need real money going to a cure. We need research funded for all types of cancer and in particular – the kind that kills – metastatic cancer.

Well, now maybe you will understand why I haven’t posted anything here in so long. This ramble, jumble of a post is going to be posted. To those of you who have been unable to reach me, who I haven’t called back, or been able to see, please understand why and please accept my apologies. I hope that next year will be one where I am able to have more balance and  can do more than simply work 🙂 But, I AM so, so, so very grateful I am able to work like I am right now. It is wonderful.

I wish everyone a wonderful holiday. I will be spending mine with my family – we will be doing our third annual Tappas Christmas (that is how I celebrate Christmas now post cancer – no more boring turkeys or crown roasts for this girl . . . I’m mixing it up).

Much love to you all and thank you for your continued prayers.

Lisa

P.S. To everyone who has tried to reach me, please keep trying and don’t give up on me. It is not because I don’t love you, I am just doing the best that I can. Things will get better 🙂 I appreciate your understanding. Happy Holidays.

Me and my niece last summer :)

Me and my niece last summer 🙂

Happy St. Patrick’s Day . . .

18 Mar

It has been a pleasant day. Enjoyed some of the rainy day in doors and took a trip out to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach in the afternoon. It was a very peaceful day. Those are not always easy to come by these days. So I am grateful.

Here are a few pictures from the day (oh since it is St. Patrick’s Day, here is my version of: Danny Boy . . . the words have a new meaning to me these days):

More on Julie of Komen . . .

17 Mar

So, if you have been following my blog as of late, you will know I have – after three years – finally heard from someone from Komen. I posted Julie’s latest email two posts ago. I responded to her here on my blog. But, upon further thought decided I would respond, again, to her personally (even though I feel it is likely a complete waste of time). So, here is my reply to Julie (brace yourself, I am not happy about the fact that I STILL have not heard back from anyone in Komen’s financial assistance program – still only PR & marketing – which I feel speaks volumes):

Supporters of Planned Parenthood

For so many women PPH is the only place where they can get screening for cervical cancer and breast cancer. Thank you SGK for pulling the plug on PPH because you only encouraged others to help fill the void. Then after you were shamed into returning the funding to PPH - has both your funding back and the funding of those who sought to fill the void you intended to create by abandoning PPH. I am ecstatic that you pulled the plug on PPH as it has wakened the world to how SGK has truly lost its way.

Julie,

I posted a copy of your email on my blog and included a reply to you there. I believe that you believe in Komen. But, I think you fail to see that Komen has lost their way. The rest of the world has pretty much caught on to this fact. My personal experience is not unique. And, sadly, it is the tip of the iceberg.
 
In any case, as I said in my reply on my blog, your organization wears me out. In my opinion, Komen is nothing but smoke and mirrors and double talk. You told me in your first email to me that you “wished there was something that Komen could do to ‘rectify the situation’ now” . . .
 
And, you asked me to reach out to you if I needed help. So, again, in response to Komen’s invitation (this time, by you personally), I reached out and instead of any help, you simply reply with a defensive email – without any sensitivity to the fact that your organization failed me and has failed countless women in the same fashion.
 
You/Komen wear me out because you keep making promises and invitations for me (and scores of others) to ask for help and then when we do, your response is to ask me how you can help. Do you understand how frustrating and pointless this is to me and to the many, many other women who have contacted me telling me that their experience is the same?
 
Instead of defending yourself by saying that you were not at Komen in 2009, why not try to fix the problem. The phone number doesn’t work, no one has EVER contacted me from financial support, not EVER. All I get from Komen are constant requests for me to donate money to your organization and now, finally, after thousands of people have viewed my blog (a blog that does not cast your organization in a very positive light) YOU (someone from PR and marketing) respond to me. Your response is completely empty in my eyes. How dare you ask me how you can help me and then when I tell you how you can help me, you get defensive and do not respond to my request for help except to AGAIN ask how you can help me . . . this is so completely illogical and circular and crazy making. Stop wasting my time – I might not have much time left – don’t you people get that??? How dare you/your organization dangle help, mislead me and so many others into believing that it is worth our time to call and waste our energy on trying to reach someone for help through your organization. It is a complete joke.
 
And just as so many of us out in the blogosphere suspected, Komen has a whole staff of people whose job it is to “be in the know” about what is being said about your organization. PATHETIC. It is very clear to me that your organization is far more concerned about protecting its brand and money making machine than it is about a cure or helping breast cancer patients.
 
I do not understand why you are not getting this in front of someone who can fix the problem – that no one can reach anyone on your “financial assistance” phone number . .. why is that?
 
I am not going away (unless cancer takes me away) and I promise you that I will keep spreading the truth about your organization. I just hope that one day the truth will be that real money goes to a cure (instead of a paltry 14 to 19 percent), that your financial assistance phone number is one day answered by an actual person or at least a voice mail that allows a person to leave a message, that you will provide a contact form or email to breast cancer patients who are seeking (by your organization’s INVITATION) financial help, that your organization will start making funding decisions based upon women’s (and men’s) health instead of politics. (I understand that Komen pulled 12 million dollars in research funds last year to research facilities that had anything to do with stem cell research, is this true)??? That is what I heard. And then of course, there is the recent Planned Parenthood fiasco. 
 
Do you realize what cutting millions of dollars from research facilities that engage in stem cell research means? It means that top, leading research facilities do not get money from your organization – all around the world leading research organizations are involved in stem cell research – so your organization is cutting funding (as I understand it) from the very places that might be most likely to develop leading, cutting edge treatment and possibly a cure.
 
Your new tagline: “We Are the Cure” makes my stomach churn.
 
I will not let up. You have no idea how many of us are outraged that it took three years for your organization to contact me and that the person who finally contacted me only did so in response to the traffic my story received AND that this person was from PR/Marketing. You may have the best of intentions, but, I hope you can understand and appreciate why so many of us are disgusted by all of this.
 
I realize you are not responsible for Komen’s funding decisions or for the fact that no one ever answered one of my over 100 phone calls to the financial assistance line. But, you work there now. So, I hope my story (and the fact that it is absolutely not unique) will wake you up a bit to the realities of the machine you work for and maybe inspire you to work from within to make positive change.
 
I can only hope for this.
 
Until then, I will (along with scores of others) continue to write. So, I guess we are going to keep you pretty busy staying “in the know about what is being said about Komen”.
 
Best,
 
Lisa

St. Patrick’s Day . . .

15 Mar

A dear friend of mine wrote this poem and shared it with me last year. I re-read it today and it made me think of Rachel and of Christine and my Aunt Anne. So, today I am dedicating this to all of those we have lost. Such beautiful words from a dear friend, whom, until last year, I never knew was such a great poet.

English: Trifolium repens ?

Image via Wikipedia

On This St. Patrick’s Day 

It’s that time o’ the year when I miss them the most
And their memories return like the touch of a ghost.
They are gentle yet painful, like lovers apart
… When you whisper their names they are breaking your heart.Now I see them before me, their laughter and joy
Is a welcome reminder when I was a boy,
When the future ahead was a dance and a song
And we’d be there forever all singing along.

But the future becomes present, and present the past
And Time’s not your friend and Death does not fast
For they work hand in hand ‘till they steal it away
And there’s nothing but tears on your St. Patrick’s Day.

So to those that you miss, give a thought and a prayer
And to those that you love, a kind word that you care
And we live with the hope such a fondness will last
For we all become memories in somebody’s past.

terence a’ mcvicker

Komen Koolaid . . .

11 Mar

So, Julie of Orange County Komen sent me an email in response to my email in response to her email in response to my blog post: Komen Please Leave Me Alone

Here is Julie’s/Komen’s response to me (first, you may want to read the post below, from Friday):

“Hi Lisa,

I was not the person “chosen” to respond to you. In my position, it is my responsibility to be in the know about what is being said about our organization; your blog past came to me in an alert as did the post you shared with everyone today. My concern was not just to remove you from our list (however it is also my responsibility, along with one other person here to make sure people who do not wish to receive our information are removed from our list), but to reach out to you as a genuine human being, but as someone who can understand the frustration of trying to get help.

Again, I’m very sorry for the response you got from our organization in 2009. I was not here at the time and like I said, just a person trying to do what they can now. Tell me how I can help and I’m happy to do what I can.

 My contact info is below:

Julie A. Guevara

Manager of Marketing & Communications

Orange County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

3191-A Airport Loop Drive

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

T: 714.957.9157 Ext. 30 | F: 714-619-2678

Our Vision: A World Without Breast Cancer

BEST SCIENCE. BOLDEST COMMUNITY. BIGGEST IMPACT.

WE ARE THE CURE”

First of all, I love the “Best Science, Boldest Community, Biggest Impact. WE ARE THE CURE”(sic)

English: Mahindra 6030 Turbo tractor in downto...

I wonder how many women rushed out to get a mammogram after seeing this pink tractor . . . am I the only one who thinks pink porta-potties, tractors, golf carts, etc. in the name of "awareness" are a waste of money? Of course i am not. Sigh.

So there you have it. NO ONE from financial assistance can bother to get in touch with me, to answer my calls, to email me back, etc. But, it is apparently Julie’s “responsibility to be in the know about what is being said about our (komen) organization” and her other job is apparently “along with one other person” to make sure they remove me from their email list. Wow. Now that seems like a great use of “race for the cure” (TM – wouldn’t want SGK to sue me) dollars, doesn’t it?

Okay, so, giving Julie the benefit of the doubt here – she says she was not “chosen” by Komen to contact me and was instead contacting me as a “a genuine human being, but (sic) as someone who can understand the frustration of trying to get help” (her words, not really sure about the grammar here, but, I think she is simply trying to say that she cares).

Okay, well then DO something. FIX what is clearly BROKEN. Komen claims to provide financial assistance to breast cancer patients, provides a number for breast cancer patients to call – but, NO ONE ANSWERS the phone number!!! HELLO???

I am sorry Julie, but, I am unimpressed with your response. And as far as your asking me what you can do to help, I think I have made it pretty clear in my prior email to you. And, in fact, I asked you what YOU could do to help me NOW (since you said that you wished Komen could help me now; wished Komen could somehow “rectify the situation”).

And, still you reply with – let me know how I can help you? I find this disingenuous. Your organization exhausts me. It is smoke and mirrors and a bunch (in my experience) of getting the run around. I asked YOU how you could help me. I told you what my needs at this time are . . . and I got the above reply. Do I expect Komen to jump in and pay all of my bills? No, but, if you truly care, then why is there no interest on your part to at least look into the broken phone number, the fact that there is no form on your website or email for cancer patients to contact you for financial assistance – and yet your organization brags about providing financial assistance to breast cancer patients in need. Please understand this: your organization invited me to seek financial assistance through Komen’s financial assistance program. I got no response ever. I called over 100 times. My story is NOT unique. I have heard from many women who were treated the same way.

Instead, I feel you have just sent me a defensive reply about how you were not employed by Komen at the time I originally sought help. So what? You work for them now. I realize this may all be out of your job description – but, the very fact that this may be the case, shows how broken Komen has become.

But truly, this is my favorite quote from Julie’s email:

“Again, I’m very sorry for the response you got from our organization in 2009″

Response? Julie, I did NOT GET A RESPONSE IN 2009, or in 2010, or in 2011.

I told you before that I was not angry with you (in my previous email). But, I have to say that now, I am a little angry with you. I don’t like the spin, I don’t like the fact that I am hearing from someone from marketing and PR instead of someone who is in a position to address my experience.

I think you have simply drunk from the Komen KoolAid.

If you truly want to help me, truly want to make a difference in some breast cancer patient’s life, then work on fixing the problem. And, if you are not in a position to do so (I understand that your job is in marketing and PR and to search out the web for what is said about Komen – which right now must be keeping you mighty busy) then get this in front of a person who CAN fix the problem.

I will be sure to include the appropriate tags for this post so that you get an alert as soon as possible.

Komen Only Responds When the World Notices . . .

9 Mar

Like many nights, I could not sleep last night.

So after tossing and turning, I decided to open up my trusty laptop and catch up on some things. I opened my email account: nomorecancer4me@gmail.com

(I know, it has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it)? If we could all just wish ourselves to being well forever, now that would be something.

Anyway, I digress.

To my shock, I received an email from Julie at Susan G. Komen at Orange County. WOW. Her email was in response to my post of last October asking Susan G. Komen to leave me alone

Here is what Julie had to say (and to be fair – you might want to read my post above first):

“Hi Lisa,

 I’m writing regarding a blog post of yours referencing our affiliate:

 https://cancerfree2b.com/2011/10/31/komen-please-leave-me-alone/

I’m very sorry to hear your frustration with us. I am new to Komen and was disappointed to read about how you weren’t able to get help from us in the time you needed it most. In reading your post, I understand that you would like for us to no longer contact you. My guess is that you registered for one of our Race for the Cure events and are now on our database. Did you register with the “nomorecancer4me” e-mail address? Just trying to make sure we take you off of our list per your request. Rest assured I want to do everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

On a personal note, I wish there was something we could do NOW to rectify this. I am very sorry for how things turned out. Again, being new to the organization can only do what I can now.

If there is ever anything I can do to help, please feel free to reach out.”

Julie A. Guevara

Manager of Marketing & Communications

Orange County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure

T: 714.957.9157 Ext. 30 | F: 714-619-2678

Wow, do I ever have a post coming in response to this. For now, I will simply share some of what I wrote to Julie at 3:00 am in this morning.

“Hello Julie,

 
So, let me get this straight – the person (you) who was chosen to respond to me is someone that is “new” and can only “do what you can now” which is apparently limited to taking me off of your email list? I am sorry, but, this is so sick to me.
 
You say that, “on a personal note” you “wish there was something that Komen could do NOW to rectify this” . . . Okay, I am ALL ears . . . what can you do, what can Komen do, to rectify this? How can you help me “NOW” as you put it (the emphasis was yours)?
 
I received nothing from Komen. I spent what little energy I had during treatment barking up a tree that your organization encouraged me to bark up and instead of getting any response, I was simply ignored. Where do all the millions go? Rachel was on to Komen long ago. And now, since the Planned Parenthood fiasco – many others are too. I am not alone in my outrage.

Please understand that it is hard for me to even respond to your email when I feel that the only reason I am finally, now, hearing back from anyone at Komen is due to the fact that I spoke out, spoke the truth and that this truth got traffic. It was fine to ignore me when I was weak and sick . . . too weak and too sick to spend precious energy writing the truth. I may be broke now, but, I am strong and I am angry – not at you personally – but at the fraud that I believe Komen has become.

 
But, since you asked me to “reach out . . . if there is anything you can do” . . . well, I am reaching out NOW (AGAIN). Finally, after two years someone has responded to me directly. Sadly, it only happened after my blog post received thousands of visitors (this same post still receives thousands of visitors and gets retweeted around the world). I would love to be able to tell a second truthful story about Komen that paints a different picture – so here is your chance, Help me. Help me like you (your organization) claimed you would help. Come through on the promise that was dangled in front of me, that caused me to call over 100 times to the help line that NO ONE EVER answered.
 
As anyone who has been through cancer knows, it wreaks financial havoc. I had to shut down a business for nearly two years, I ran through all of my savings, I no longer have a car that is working properly, I am broke. I can not afford to maintain my health insurance. I can not afford my prescriptions, I can not afford the gas it takes for me to get to my oncologist. I needed help when I was going through treatment and I need help now. The stress of unpaid medical bills and the stress of not being able to make ends meet is a great burden. Stress is not good for anyone, and it is especially not good for cancer patients.
 
So, what can Komen do for me? I don’t need pink ribbons, I don’t need 5k walks with rose ceremonies. I need something concrete, something tangible. We all do. In 1994 I lost my Aunt to breast cancer. I found it odd back then that your organization didn’t seem to be able to do anything for her, no support. And yet, after she passed away, I ran your 5ks in her honor, thinking, believing – like so many – that this would somehow make a difference to women in the future. After all, you are “racing for a cure” right?
I am not saying Komen has done nothing good. I am saying that Komen does not do enough AT ALL. The money is squandered. At least that is what I believe. And to brag – as your organization bragged in 2009 and 2010 when I was going through chemo and radiation – that you helped women financially – and yet you never answered the phone – well, that is just about as ugly as it can get. (And by the way, this is the only phone number that was provided at the time and only point of contact for all of this financial assistance your organization claimed to provide. There was no way to leave a message, no email contact, no online form to fill out to ask for help – those things only exist for your donors. There are plenty of forms and live people to reach if you are a donor – why you are simply a click away to those who want to donate money).
 
I am angry. (I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that). I am not personally angry at you. But, I am angry at Nancy Brinker and I am angry at the organization that I once blindly (as once did my family and friends) supported. Many people are angry and share my outrage at being mislead. I want to see a different Komen.
 
You told me to “reach out” to you for help. I need help. I am reaching out. So I will wait to hear back from you. 
 
Please help me.”
 
So, that is basically what I said (at 3:00 am). Not the most well thought out email and perhaps I should have saved it as a draft and edited a bit before I sent it out. Had I taken more time, I would have addressed this point in Julie’s email to me:

“Just trying to make sure we take you off of our list per your request. Rest assured I want to do everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

So Julie’s big concern is that she makes sure “this never happens again” – that Komen never hits me up for money again. WOW. I see their point, why should they waste their time asking me for money when they know they will NEVER get it from me again? But, why is it that Julie is not concerned about making sure there is a person to answer their phone at the number Komen provides in their claim that if you call that number you can get financial help? Why is it that Komen never responded to me, EVER, until my blog post was read by thousands? Why is that when they do finally contact me, that it is a person from marketing?

Hmmm . . .