Tag Archives: komen

Pinktober: One Week Down, Three To Go.

6 Oct

It has been a crazy several months (more on that in another post) and I have wanted to write here on many occasions. But, each time, words seemed to fail me. I’ve really wondered what I could possibly add to the conversation about breast cancer or survivorship given that there are so many amazing voices out there doing it every day. And every time I think I am going to write, I don’t even know where to start. I feel like I have said pretty much what I want to say and don’t really want to become a broken record. Nothing is really new, right?

And, I guess that is the problem: nothing is really new.

We still have pink washing, breast cancer awareness month and very little of the money raised in the name of a cure going to actual research and . . . 

still, 30% of ALL women who are diagnosed with breast cancer will become metastatic – as in having an incurable disease, as in they will die from breast cancer.

Cancer sucks. Period.

One week down, three to go. For all of what I love about October (baseball playoffs – especially if my Angels are in it, my empty, beautiful beach, sunsets over Catalina and Halloween) I also dread October. It is pinkified and Komenified for the entire month. Hate that. There is pink everything, everywhere. Turn on the your t.v. and you’ll see it in commercials, the back drop of newscasts, the NFL, you name it, everyone and everything is pink.

Not going to drink this . . .

How is drinking pink alcohol fighting against breast cancer?

There is ridiculous pink branding and pink washing everywhere (Mike’s hard lemonade usually goes pink along with Campbell’s Soup, and so, so many other companies).  Walk into any grocery store, it is as prominent as Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . it is like Nancy Brinker started her own damn pink holiday and it lasts a full month long. I realize it is not all Komen, but it seems to be mostly them and if you have read my blog much, well then you know how I feel about Komen. I will never believe that an organization that collected 389 million dollars in the name of a cure (in 2010), but only put 14% of that 389 million towards research, could ever become an organization that I could support or trust. For more on that see: Komen By The Numbers: 2010 And Still No Answers” and how Komen participated in pinkwashing by pedaling their own pink product, here.

Here is just one of many examples of something that is pink-washed – Essie’s “Breast Cancer Awareness” nail polish – by the way, nail polish usually contains toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (aka: dpa) – all known carcinogens – but who wants to be aware of that . . .

And how about these clever names for breast-cancer-awareness, possibly-cancer-causing-nail-polish: “Pink Happy” and “Pinking About You” and my absolute least favorite: “I Pink I Can” . . . really??!!!

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 2.11.36 PM

 

In fairness to Essie – since they do not disclose a complete list of their ingredients online –  I can’t be sure if they use the “toxic three” in their nail polish. But, most nail polish sold in the United States contains all three.  And all three are known carcinogens. But, let’s not go too crazy with all this awareness . . .

The one ingredient Essie does list online is: “dimethicone” which is a “smoothing silicone” substance that can accumulate in the liver and lymph nodes and appears to be linked to the “growth of tumors” (“Cancer Alert: Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid”, by Dr. Edward Group). Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?

That, my friends, is pink washing – selling a product that is known to contain chemicals that cause or contribute to breast cancer in the name of breast cancer awareness.

One of the things I dislike the most is that for all of this “awareness” and supposed racing for the cure, we are not closer to a cure. 40,000 women will die of metastatic breast cancer this year. Not a good statistic at all. I have lost many friends, including my aunt, to breast cancer. I will see more friends die. I might die of it too

We need research. We need to learn what causes breast cancer. We need to educate. We need more RESEARCH. We really don’t need: pink portapotties, pink golf carts or Mike’s Hard “pink” Lemonade or make-me-aware-pink-potentially-cancer-causing-nail-polish with cute (sic) names. We don’t need more awareness.

I dislike the pink onslaught and pink hoopla because it celebrates something that truly is not happening. We aren’t curing breast cancer with pink balloons and pink products. This “awareness” isn’t getting us anywhere.  Sometimes I wonder if we are even treading water. My friends, your friends, are still getting diagnosed, still going through chemo, still dying, period. It is just so damn tiring. Why don’t we just all admit it – this cure thing is a fiction at this point. We are no closer to a cure now than we were when my Aunt died of metastatic  breast cancer in 1994. But, one thing is for sure – the pink profiteers are profiting big time – all in the name of breast cancer awareness.

For me, my personal breast cancer awareness is about the daily physical and emotional ramifications I still deal with nearly six years out. For me, breast cancer awareness is about my friends who have died, who will die and who will be diagnosed. For me breast cancer awareness is about how difficult it still is sometimes to simply live my life. For me breast cancer awareness is the guilt I feel in saying that very thing – that it is “difficult” being a “survivor.” After all, don’t I realize how lucky I am to be alive six years out? Of course I do. But, knowing how amazingly lucky I am does not mean that I don’t also feel like crap some or even a lot of the time. Pain and lymphedema are frequent visitors post cancer treatment.

On the upside, I’ve learned to shrug off pains now without too much thought of it being a recurrence. That is some real progress. But, I continue to see my friends get diagnosed. Many friends have had recurrences. And so for me, not thinking about a recurrence is something I have to actively work at, especially when I am seemingly surrounded by all of this pink crap during October.

So for the rest of this month of breast cancer awareness I am going to try to be less aware of the pink and try to see the orange and black halloween decorations and the fall colors displayed in the grocery stores (let’s face it, living in Southern California, that is about as close as I get to seeing “fall colors”) and try not to see too much of the sea of pink. And, I will try not to retort back with something snarky to the well meaning grocery store clerks when they ask me if I want to “donate to breast cancer” (whatever the %@&# that means). I have always been tempted to respond with something like this: “No thank you, I’ve already donated my breasts to breast cancer. I think that is enough” . . .

Sigh.

Brinker Stinker: A Reminder of What Susan G. Komen is Not About . . .

5 May
Nancy Brinker

This is Nancy Brinker, clapping her hands, maybe she is applauding herself for a job well done (sic). Well I am one person who is not clapping my hands for you Nancy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This blogging thing can sometimes feel like a burden. It seems that I never know how to begin or finish a post anymore. I want to write, probably need to write, and most definitely I feel a responsibility to write. Especially when it has been the kind of week this past week has been in the breast cancer community.

In the past week, two of my friends have had cancer return and a third friend, who has been living with metastatic breast cancer for some time, is now dealing with very severe health problems due to her treatment (to put it mildly, she is in a great deal of pain). This is part of the world of breast cancer. It is not the pink bowed version of things that the Susan G. Komen Foundation sells (mammograms and early detection equal a cure, etc.). Well, clearly mammograms and early detection do not equate to a cure.

And now, this just out: Nancy Brinker reportedly gave herself a 64% raise last year (see the Dallas News article here). She also claimed she was going to step down as CEO last year (amidst public outcry to do so).  And yet she has not stepped down – she is still listed as the CEO of SGK and – apparently right around the time she was reportedly going to step down as CEO – she instead gave herself a 64% raise – way to keep up with inflation, Nancy.

According to the Dallas Morning News: “The nonprofit’s latest 990 IRS filing shows that Brinker, founder and CEO, made $684,717 in fiscal 2012, a 64 percent jump from her $417,000 salary from April 2010 to March 2011.”

I wrote a letter in 2011 (that I also posted on my blog) asking the Susan G. Komen Foundation to leave me alone (I was tired of being hit up for money and tired of being misled). I think given the recent news of Nancy’s 64% raise that this earlier post is relevant. Here it is again: SGK: Please Leave Me Alone

I should note that since that post, Susan G. Komen’s “marketing” department contacted me via email on multiple occasions – apparently my blog post version of my letter to them got some traffic and so they felt the need to respond (even though my attempts to reach them over 100 times – yes, really…I called over 100 times – were ignored).

They never responded to my letter until the blog version of it started getting some traction and traffic (retweets and comments on a blog can get some attention and apparently it got SGK’s marketing department’s attention). While they finally responded, their response was not to deal with any of the real issues I raised, but instead to dissuade me from writing anything negative about them. In fact, the person who contacted me from Susan G. Komen told me that it was “her job to be ‘in the know’ about what was being said about Komen” . . . wow. She went on to tell me that it was essentially her job to deal with people like me.

It all seemed incredibly disingenuous to me. And, even a bit creepy. I felt a little like I was being stalked. And, truth be told (and I am ashamed to admit this) it did dissuade me from speaking out against SGK. I felt intimidated. I felt harassed. And, I just didn’t want to deal with any more direct contact from them. (Keep in mind, they sought me out and emailed me at my personal email associated with this blog – not an email I have ever given to them).

I have attended SGK’s race for the cure. The event is something that many breast cancer survivor’s enjoy. I can appreciate that. There is a “Survivor Ceremony” and many survivors, I am sure receive something positive from the event. My problem with it is that it feels like a huge fraud. I don’t just mean the fact that the money SGK brings in each year – all in the name of a “race for a cure” – is mostly spent on things other than researching a cure (in 2010 Komen put less than 19% of the 389 million dollars it raised in the name of a cure towards actual research) . . . it is also the phoniness of it all – the tunnel vision and the false portrayal that everything is fine, that we are doing enough about breast cancer, that women are surviving because of us (Komen) and aren’t we (Komen) great.

The fraud that I witnessed (in addition to what I outlined in my letter back in 2011) was the parading around of women who have had breast cancer and now speak as though it was some little blip in their lives – that now everything is perfect and all the while Komen seemingly takes credit for these survivor stories. It feels like a cover up. It stinks, no wreaks, of false promise and false hope. And, worse, it makes people complacent because they are lead to believe that Komen is really fighting for a cure when clearly the numbers do not add up to that.

It feels like Komen uses these women to further their spin that early detection will save lives; that mammograms will save lives. The truth is that some people get cancer and some people don’t. The truth is that some people get it and get better and some people don’t. The truth is that early detection or not, no one knows why some people’s cancer’s recur. Early detection is not a cure. But, Komen sells the idea that it is a cure – and all this really tells me (along with their failure to put even 20 percent of the millions they raise towards research) is that they have given up on searching for a cure . . . and certainly there is no “race for a cure” . . . not that I can see.

I really want to believe that Brinker started the Susan G. Komen Foundation with the real goal of ending breast cancer. But, the constant spin about early detection being essentially a cure is not only misleading, it means that SGK is content with the status quo. They are satisfied with things as they are . . . despite Nancy’s claims that she is not . . . actions speak far louder than words.

The reality is that if SGK wasn’t absolutely okay with things the way they are (okay with my friends dying, okay with not understanding why some women who are diagnosed with breast cancer survive and never have a recurrence while others – also diagnosed early – at some later point end up with metastatic breast cancer), then they would put real money towards research; they would actually race for a cure and they would fund research for the most underfunded area of breast cancer: metastatic breast cancer – the kind that kills.

I am tired of seeing my friends suffer, tired of losing friends to this disease, fearful of losing more friends to this disease . . . and I am also tired of being fearful of a recurrence. This is the side of breast cancer that Komen not only seems to ignore, but they seem to simply sweep right under the rug.

This little rant of mine is for Rachel Morro who died of metastatic breast cancer and for my friends currently dealing with metastatic breast cancer. Something has to be done. Just think, if even half of the the money that had been given to SGK in 2010 had been put towards research (instead of Rachel Morro of Cancer Culture Chronicles calculation of only 19% or Reuters calculation of only 14%) then nearly 200 million dollars could have gone to breast cancer research in just one year alone. Now that could really be something.

Komen raises millions of dollars each year in the name of a cure. In doing so, they are essentially siphoning funds away from breast cancer research. How can I say this? Well, apparently at least 80% of the nearly 400 million dollars Komen raised in 2010 went to something other than research. I highly doubt that donors expected 80 cents of every dollar they donated to go to something other than research for a cure. So, if that money had not gone to Komen, then it could have gone directly to actual research – it could have gone directly to what those making donations likely expected it to go to – to research for a cure. Research is what will lead to a cure – not mammograms, not awareness, not pink porta-potties and pink golf carts, not pink anything.

I am not against pink. I am just against the double talk and deception. You simply can not claim to be racing for a cure if you are spending less than 20% of the millions of dollars you take in – in the name of “ending breast cancer forever” – on research.

I expect to hear from SGK’s marketing department very soon . . .

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 🙂

Pinktober is almost over . . .

30 Oct

I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I set out to write one today and saw that I had a comment from Jenn (see below) on an old blog post entitled: Komen Please Leave Me Alone

Here is Jen’s comment – I just had to share (you will find my response to Jen below her comment).

Jenn

Submitted on 2012/10/09 at 8:18 PM

Truly sorry that you had an awful experience with NY Komen. That never should have happened – and wouldn’t happen at many other affiliates. I am confused though. Do you want the money to go to patient assistance or to research? Yes Komen ONLY gives 20-25% to research because the other 75% is granted out to the local communities. And Komen gives more to breast cancer research than any other group outside of the government. As for not getting finanicial assistance to help you that depends on the grants in the area. If no one applies for a grant to do this then what is Komen supposed to do? I agree “For the Cure” is misleading but who knew 25 years ago how complex breast cancer was. We all hoped for a quick and easy cure – now we know with science that it will take more. As for the emails from Komen – I suggest you use the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email and then they won’t bother you anymore and you won’t have to complain about it anymore without knowing what really goes on…

Here is my reply to Jen:
Panera Bread

Panera Bread is supporting Dr. Susan Love’s Army of Women – Good for them! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Submitted on 2012/10/30 at 10:21 AM | In reply to Jenn.

Hello Jen,
I think you are the one that doesn’t know what you are talking about. First of all, Komen does NOT give “20-25% to research”. Your numbers are wrong. To answer your question: “Do you want the money to go to patient assistance or to research?” here is my answer: I want Komen to stop being a fraud. I want Komen to stop claiming to be “for a cure” when they are not – no organization that puts more than 80% of raised funds to things OTHER than research can claim that they are “for a cure” for cancer. That just doesn’t add up. I want Komen to stop misleading all of us. And, I want Komen to stop claiming that they help patients with their treatment costs when in fact you can’t ever get anyone to call them back – ever.

You need to read more carefully – Komen’s marketing people are emailing me directly – they use the email contact through this blog to contact me. It is not the email list that bothers me – you can unsubscribe from that once you find out that all Komen wants is your money. The emails from Komen that I am referring to are the ones that they send to me directly through this blog – from their PR and Media people trying to get me to stop telling the truth about Komen. That is despicable. They never answered a single phone call, never returned answered or returned any calls when I called their patient support line over 100 times – but when I complain about that publicly and call Komen out for who they are – I get email after email from their PR and Media people. Just a little disingenuous don’t you think?

You don’t know what you are talking about. I haven’t found a single chapter of Komen that has anyone that will take your call or return your call from “patient assistance” – if you ask me – it simply does not exist.

Anyway, the NFL and others have figured out that Komen is NOT worthy of support. Haven’t you noticed that with many large organizations Komen has been replaced (the NFL supports The American Cancer Society now – they dumped Komen this year). Many other organizations have followed suit. Now when I see a pink ribbon on a cup at Panera Bread I smile because I know that the money is going to something worthwhile – Dr. Susan Love’s Army of Women.

I am thrilled to see that Komen’s stronghold is starting to diminish. I was one of several people that asked for Nancy Brinker to step down. I know she is still there – but she has been rightfully shamed.

I am glad that you agree that “For the Cure” is misleading. Komen is misleading and they only respond when their is huge public outcry. It used to be when I criticized Komen that people would take offense (I am in Orange County where Komen boasts one of its largest chapters) but, now times have changed. Most people I talk to now are on to Komen. No one likes it when they hear that according to Reuters only 14% of the money Komen raised went to research. In fact it is making people pretty angry. It is nice to see that the climate here in Orange County has changed. It is making room for organizations that really do help people get funds. Komen is losing ground and I would like to think that I have been a part of that – that is awareness – making friends and family and blog readers aware of what Komen is really about.

Your last sentence: “unsubscribe . . . and then they won’t bother you anymore and you won’t have to complain about it anymore without knowing what really goes on” is priceless. YOU clearly don’t know what “really” goes on – what really goes on is that Komen only donated 14% of the money they raised in 2011 to research. You can claim all you want that Komen donates more money to research than any other organization but the truth is that they pocket the money and dump it in to salaries and “awareness” and “education” (whatever that is). People are dying. The fact that Komen only used 14% of the funds that good hearted peopled donated “for a cure” to actual research is despicable. They have taken the lion’s share of the money raised for breast cancer research, and instead of putting it towards research, that money goes to six figure salaries, pink-porta-potties, pink golf carts and failing races for the cure.

‘nough said.

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

No Help For the Poor and No RACE for the cure(TM) . . .

2 Feb
English: Nancy G. Brinker. Chief of Protocol o...

There once was a disease that killed many,But, then big pink cured it with money.Oh, wait that’s not true,It still kills me and you.Does Brinker think me a big dummy?(I wrote this snarky limerick last year, but, thought it fit for today . . . Nancy Brinker is proving she is more about politics than women's health.

I wish I did not have to work today. I wish I did not have to work at all this week or next. Because if I didn’t have to work, I would spend every minute of my time responding to The Susan G. Komen Foundation’s latest and greatest (and by far their most transparent move ever): pulling the plug on funding to Planned Parenthood.

But, unfortunately I do have to work today. So here are a few links to former posts that shed a little light on what Komen is, in my opinion, and the opinion of many others . . . truly about. Also, please see below for what Breast Cancer Action says about Komen’s latest move and please, please, please sign their petition (you will find a link to it at the bottom of this post).

Please check these posts out:

An absolute MUST read: A post about where Komen’s money really goes by The Cancer Culture Chronicles: Komen by the Numbers (check out the pie chart on where SGK’s money goes . . . it is a real eye opener).

My post on how SGK abandons breast cancer patients during their time of greatest need. Another post of mine (simply because I like the title of it: When Pigs Fly)

Another post of mine about Nancy Brinker’s toxic perfume and her refusal to take it off the market after the toxic chemicals (chemicals linked to causing cancer) were made public by an independent lab who tested the “Promise Me” perfume.

And here is a post showing just how little of the purchase price of Komen’s Promise Me Perfume actually goes to ANYTHING by Katie Ford Hall at Uneasy Pink 

And if you are interested in some poetry, here’s some of my Komen inspired poetry.

Like I said, I wish I had all day, all week, all month . . . I wish I had all year to spend on this nightmare of a fraud that Komen has become.

Please see what Breast Cancer Action has to say about Komen’s latest funding cut:

“Women’s healthcare is under assault once again. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is pulling all funding for Planned Parenthood, an outrageous decision that threatens women’s access to vital health services. But what’s particularly concerning is this funding cut will impact underserved communities most . . . Planned Parenthood provides vital health services including screening, clinical exams, referrals for ultrasounds and biopsies, and breast health education, often to women who do not otherwise have access to healthcare. One in 6 women of reproductive age get their healthcare through Planned Parenthood.

We believe all women should have access to the same healthcare. The care a woman receives should not be based on the type of insurance or financial resources that she has or does not have access to—or political agendas. Women’s health is women’s health, period . . . Organizations that are truly committed to women’s health must put women’s health before politics. We stand with Planned Parenthood in our shared commitment to putting women’s health first.”

Breast Cancer Action has a link (see below) where you can sign a petition demanding that SGK return the funding back to Planned Parenthood.

Please sign Breast Cancer Action’s petition to Susan G. Komen for the Cure demanding they put women’s health before politics.

Please sign the petition. Please stand up, please let SGK know that they are WRONG.

All the best,

Lisa

Komen: Please Leave Me Alone

31 Oct

Today I was yet again, hit up for money by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure. This is what they had to say: “take advantage of these last few hours to show that YOU care and want to a make difference in our community” and “let’s use these last few hours to save as many lives as possible”

Here is my response to them.

Dear Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure:

I am a breast cancer survivor.

I was diagnosed in March of 2009. My Aunt died of breast cancer in 1994. At the time of my Aunt’s diagnosis I was in law school and Nancy Brinker came and spoke to the women’s law association at my law school. She was there to promote her foundation in her sister’s honor and to urge us all to get mammograms at age 40 and to do self breast exams. At the time I met Ms. Brinker, I could not help but wonder why it was that my Aunt, who was at that time suffering through chemo (and doing so simply to extend her life long enough to see her first grandchild born) had never had any contact with the Susan G. Komen Foundation for THE CURE. I listened to Nancy speak about her sister and about her pledge to “end breast cancer forever”. And, like many, I believed that she meant well. But, no one from her foundation every helped my Aunt. Still, I thought, well, maybe they are so busy “racing for a cure” that they do not have time or resources to help a dying woman . . . my aunt, suffering through chemo, no cure could come in time for her . . . and, after all, that is what Nancy’s foundation was racing towards . . . a cure.

So my family cared for my Aunt until she died. Her children, her sisters, her husband, friends all showed up. But, nothing from the Komen Foundation. But, then, that wasn’t their job, was it? No, they were busy racing for a cure.

So, after my Aunt succumbed to breast cancer (after she spent her last days unable to handle medical costs or afford basic comforts) I ran in Susan G. Komen’s Orange County Race for the Cure in her honor. I truly believed that my doing so would somehow make a difference. After all, Nancy’s goal was to “end breast cancer forever” and I was certainly behind that.

Fast forward to March of 2009 and through a routine mammogram I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.

I again showed up to your Orange County Race for the Cure. I was going through treatment, going through surgeries, battling infections, battling my insurance company, trying to survive without an income . . . I sought help from your organization. I sought help from you because you claimed – on your very own website – to provide financial assistance to women going through treatment. I desperately needed your help.

I called day after day after day the number that was provided on your website to apply for financial assistance. I called multiple times a day over a period of months. Each time I called there was an outgoing message saying that “no one was available at this time, please call back later”. There was NO way to leave a message. I searched your website repeatedly looking for an email address or some way of contacting the person who handles the financial assistance that your organization claimed to provide. There was nothing, no email, no point of contact, no way to leave a voice mail message. Instead, just a teaser (and a bragging statement about how you help women with the costs of their treatment).

I finally called the Orange County chapter. I explained that the New York Chapter that is the ONLY chapter that apparently has the authority to provide financial assistance to women going through treatment, did not ever answer their phone. I was transferred (after multiple calls and complaints to the OC Chapter) finally, to the director of the Orange County Chapter. I explained to her that I had not been able to reach anyone for months, that no one answers the phone in New York, that there is no way to leave a voice mail message. The OC Director immediately said, and I quote: “Yes, I know, they don’t answer their phone. Have you tried calling the Salvation Army? They can help you with your utility bills. Have you tried calling the American Cancer Society? They can help you get information on clinical trials. Have you called the Lance Armstrong Foundation? They can help you get emotional support and match you up with a survivor who has had the same kind of cancer as you.”

I was so dismayed, disappointed, crushed, heartbroken, devastated.

Meanwhile, I was undergoing Herceptin treatments and radiation and recovering from surgeries. I was unable to work. I was broke. I was lead to believe – through Komen’s own web page – that if I was in financial need that some of the nearly 400 million dollars that was raised that year could be used to help me while I was in need.

I am not one to be looking for handouts. I raised money for Komen. I have raised money for other cancer organizations. I was under the mistaken belief (as was everyone I know, all of my friends) that Komen actually helped out women who were in my position.

Not true. At least, not in my experience. And, clearly, from the OC director’s response, it is typical that no one answers the phone in the New York office – THE chapter charged with the responsibility of helping cancer patients with their treatment costs, and financial assistance. No other chapter at that time had the ability to provide financial assistance. All requests had to go through their chapter. I am certain that I made over 100 calls to that chapter – calling the number that was listed on your site for financial assistance. After the 30th call or so, it simply became a game, a “let’s see how many times I can call and not get a live person and not be able to leave a message” game. It was unbelievable.

I have shared this story with many . . . many who in the past donated to your organization who now will no longer donate to your organization because like me, they feel your organization is a fraud.

I was mislead. My family and friends were urged to donate to your organization believing that you would donate most of their donation towards either research or paying for someone’s treatment. Neither of those are true.

You say you want to “end breast cancer forever” yet, you spend about 19% of the money that you TAKE from good hearted people towards research.

We are all very aware of breast cancer. If you still think creating awareness is a necessary goal, then make it clear that the money you raise is going to awareness. But, instead, you trademark the language “for the cure”. Instead, you state that your mission is to “end breast cancer forever”. How can that be when you only spend 19% on actual research.

How can you claim to be helping women with breast cancer when the phone number that you dangled out there on your website to call for financial assistance has no one, EVER, at the other end.

I have found out through my own personal experience how little you actually do towards racing “for a cure”. My cure, if I have one at all is in spite of you. My survival, if I survive, is in spite of you. My ability to survive financially, to navigate the difficult insurance and medical bill waters, is in spite of you.

I will spend every last day of my life (however long that will be – by the way, I expect it to survive a very long time) making everyone I know aware of what you have not done. I want to believe that your organization stemmed from a desire to make positive change, to help those in need and to work towards a cure for breast cancer. But, my experience – up close and personal – has told a different story. I have received no help from your organization. When I have actually spoken to a live person at Komen, they have referred me back to the American Cancer Society, to the Salvation Army, to social workers that my hospital “might have on staff who could help me find financial resources”.

So, while I expect nothing from you, I do have this one request: STOP, please STOP asking me to donate money to you. Please stop asking me, a breast cancer patient who you ignored, who you mislead, for money. Stop asking me to buy your nearly hundred dollar bracelet every year. Stop asking me to purchase your toxic chemical containing perfume. PLEASE, please, please, just leave me alone.