Saturday, February 4, 2012


The general public has finally kicked Komen off their pink pedestal.

Last week, I blogged about the brouhaha brewing in the breast cancer community over the commercialization of Komen. I also mentioned the Canadian documentary about Komen called Pink Ribbons, Inc., that is making its debut today — the same day the pink dust has settled following Komen's Planned Parenthood firestorm. (It also happens to be the one-year anniversary of my bilateral mastectomy, or my "surgiversary," as I like to call it — but I digress.)

That's what I call a tipping point. Because for the first time, everyone everywhere can glimpse a Komen that can no longer hide behind its frilly pink curtains.

As you know, Komen partners with a gazillion companies, lending their name to a ton of products, all sold under the pink umbrella. As a consumer, I buy a yogurt (not organic, BTW) with a pink ribbon on it, thinking I'm doing good — only to later learn I must mail the lid back to the yogurt company before they make a contribution to Komen. The yogurt company makes money off of me, and then donates a few cents of said made money to Komen, getting a tax break in return. Sweet deal all around. The kicker, though: Many companies place a ceiling on how much moola they donate, so even though you buy a "pink" product, no money may go to Komen at all if said company has met its donation quota. That is a bummer.

But don't feel too bad for Komen. They earn mega money regardless, though just $650,000 was earmarked for screening exams for low-income women over at Planned Parenthood. And for that there is an uproar... and political pressure... which caused Komen to cave but then they rescind and say they'll continue to fund some PP breast screening programs (for fear of losing liberal dollars). At least for now. Even though breast cancer is an equal-opportunity employer.

Oy, I have a headache.

I don't know about you, but I think the time has come for the charity that is raking in the biggest bucks (ahem, Komen) to use that fat leather wallet not just for good, but to make good. Finding breast cancer is the first step, but it's not the only step. It's what comes after finding breast cancer that is most troubling. Komen, we really need your money to go all in towards research that figures out why we are getting breast cancer in the first place. Why is it so epidemic? Why is it striking younger and younger women? Why, with all this "awareness," are people still so in the dark about the disease? We also really need your money to find better treatments for those who already have BC (including our metastatic sisters, please; for more on blogger Katherine's opinion on that, see her post here).

What we don't need is more "awareness." We don't need more pink marches with people raising money that goes towards funding more pink marches. We are all too aware, Komen. The awareness baton has been passed. It's time to pull the plug on pink — and get to work.

And on that note, I leave you with an image I captured as I hiked up a new hill this afternoon to celebrate my one-year surgiversary.

I purposefully choose a different path to the top today; I hope Komen does, too. Because actions speak louder than pink.


  1. here, here! all in favor say aye:
    AYE! it's unanimous! :O)

  2. Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer last mother and sister were diagnosed the year before me....I knew very little about breast cancer! The only thing I knew was to do breast exams and to get mammograms. But, I didnt' know anything about the disease myself. When I talk with other women I try to educate them about the disease, as I have found they are just as "dumb" about it as I was. They have a false security that they have no family history....They are totally unaware that MOST women diagnosed do NOT have a family history. WE didn't until my mom was diagnosed at the age of 81. And my BRCA test was negative! They are totally unaware that 1 of 8 women get it in their lifetime (why is it such an epidemic?). They are totally unaware that aging increases our risks. They are totallly unaware of so much....they are just like I was. Yes, WE are aware.....we got aware real fast about breast cancer after we were diagnosed! But, I can tell you there are a whole bunch of women out there totally unaware other than breast exams and mammograms. Yes, they are aware that pink is for breast cancer. But, with all of this awareness, why are they so in the dark? Being diagnosed less than a year ago, I don't have an opinion about this Komen hullaboo. I do know, though, that my sister is without insurance and goes to Planned Parenthood and they DID NOT give her a mammogram. They DID examine her for any lumps and gave her a "prescription" to go get a mammogram....but it wasn't free and she had no insurance, so they didn't really do a whole lot to help her with her breast health. I think a lot of people think they are doing mammograms....they are not. So, I'm left wondering why they need this money from a breast cancer charity when all they do is examine for lumps? Why the middle man? Why not just give the money to hospitals or breast centers to give free mammograms to women? Just my thoughts....not trying to disagree with anyone. I, personally, hate the politics of it all! I just want to beat this cancer and educate other women!

  3. Anonymous, thank you for your thoughtful reply! I completely agree that unless you have BC, you really don't know much about it. You are right when you say that there are a bunch of women totally unaware other than breast exams and mammograms. That is precisely what the pink uproar is all about. Komen has been successful in driving the "awareness" train with their pink presence and pink ribbons and pink walks and runs. Now we need more funding to go towards research to treat those who already have BC — and prevent it one day in those who do not. I am so sorry to hear about your family history. You make a great point, Komen *should* fund free mammos straight away. I don't know the politics enough to know whether or not they do or they don't. I just know that since my diagnosis, I am more aware of stuff that was invisible to me before, and am bothered by it, and have thoughts about it. And that sparks discussion, which in turns helps to educate. Thank you for your wonderful comments. It's a full-circle moment!

  4. After reading and rereading Komen's "reinstatement to PP" it would appear that SGK is not done with their own version of "pulling the pink ribbon plug." Methinks they are just stalling for time. Ultimately, "we" must stop cold-turkey in funding and looking to Komen to be the vanguard in breast cancer research. They have fallen tragically short these past 3 decades, and all indicators is that they will continue to do so. New leadership in this "battle" is desparately needed.

  5. TC: Methinks you are correct. (I hear the squeaky wheels of backpedaling too!) My gut tells me this firestorm will be the maker or breaker of SGK. Folks are aware of the controversy; that creates donation hesitancy which in turn forces a company to take action. One organization that is squarely in the patient's corner: They helped spearhead the "Think Before You Pink" movement ( and are amazing!


Your comments are encouraging — and encouraged!