Friday, February 3, 2012

SG Komen - Go Pee Up A Rope!

Early signs of breast cancer.Image via WikipediaLike a lot of other people, I vaguely thought the Susan G. Komen Foundation did much good for women.  I thought the races looked like plenty of fun, and were a great place for survivors to meet and bond.  I did wonder about how putting a pink ribbon on everything from soda pop to chips to KFC helped battle breast cancer, but I thought, well, maybe it's good, just to have men and women thinking about breast cancer.

 My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was about 5.  She was in her mid-forties.

This was in the Sixties, practically the Dark Ages as far as treatments went.  The days when you went "under the knife" when they found a lump, and when you woke up, you found out if it was cancer or not, depending on how much of your chest they'd carved away.

They took her breast, the chest muscles, lymph nodes, the muscles under her arm.

They gave her radiation that made her sick.  She was in remission, for several years, but the cancer recurred.  They gave her male hormones, which caused her to grow a mustache, embarrassing her tremendously.  They gave her all kinds of drugs that made her sick, made her hallucinate, made her body bloat and gain weight.  The final indignity, for a woman who'd struggled so hard to lose the last baby weight she'd gained with me.

She died anyway, on the eve of my tenth birthday.

Betty Jane - and her first granddaughter.
She was 49 when she died, a few weeks
after this photo was taken.

As for me... well, found the first suspicious lump in my thirties.  Biopsied.  Benign.  Another one some years later, another biopsy.  Benign.  My older sisters - a similar story.  So far, so good.

In the past few years, I've developed a number of "interesting" masses, plus a large number of cysts.  Last week, they told me that since they've all been stable for about two years, I can now drop to one mammo & ultrasound a year, instead of an extra ultrasound every six months.  I'm happy about this, but I will never feel "safe."  The most I can hope for is the relief of so far, so good.

My friend (and fabulous author) Lisa Hendrix turned me on to this video by this incredibly brave woman.

When there's an emotional connection to an issue, any organization, be it political, religious, or charitable, can take advantage of that emotional connection to persuade people to donate, volunteer, and participate.  Usually without thinking, looking, and asking penetrating questions. Breast cancer is one of those issues that affects a lot of families, personally and emotionally.

I'm sure in the beginning, Nancy Brinker was truly remembering and grieving for her sister, Susan G. Komen, and forming the organization was an effective way to honor her sister and work out her grief.  It's tragic when anyone loses a family member to breast cancer. But as to what the SGK Foundation has come to embody:

  • bloated salaries for their top executives 
  • bullying and lawsuits to shut down smaller organizations 
  • pinkwashing anything and everything that brings in corporate money, from junk food to animal feed to handguns
  • This latest, their decision to stop making grants to Planned Parenthood.  
  • Oh, and they'd already defunded stem cell research, something that might actually lead to a cure for breast cancer.  

Now they're spinning, and outright lying that politics and personal religious beliefs about when life starts had anything to do with their (original) Planned Parenthood decision.

They must think people are really, really, really stupid.  That people will not think this is a desperate attempt to save their generous salaries (over $400k, really?), corporate and celebrity endorsements.  I would retain at least a fraction of respect for them if they had the ovaries to say, "We made a mistake. It was a dumb and shortsighted move, and we won't do it again."  Instead, frantic PR spinning and more BS.

They have proven that, whatever their original intentions, whatever phrase or color ribbon they pin on it (and try to copyright), they cannot be trusted.  I am furious.  My sisters are furious.  My mother would have been furious.

Breast implant: Mammographs: Normal breast (le...Image via WikipediaYou may or may not support Planned Parenthood.  I do.  I was grateful to have their services available to me when I was a teenager, and needed information about birth control and contraceptives. I have friends who have used their services for pregnancy testing and prenatal care.  I used their wonderful guide for parents to educate myself in how to talk to my son about sex.  Abortion services only make up 3% of what they offer clients.

Yes, some PP clinics do offer abortion counseling and services.  You may believe that human life begins the minute that sperm meets egg; I can't prove it does not, though I don't share that belief.  I've already expressed my thoughts on why I'm pro-choice, here.

You will notice that this post is not illustrated with pink ribbons, but instead, practical illustrations that might help a woman (or a man, I have a male friend who's a breast cancer survivor) understand breast cancer a little better. I'm not sure that pink ribbons do much except a) make the person displaying one feel smugly generous, and b) bring in a lot of income to the companies that make pink ribbon decals, pins, and other items.

There are other organizations that have run/walks.  Avon does one against breast cancer.  NAMI does one (and I've participated in it) that battles mental illness, a vastly underfunded cause that also affects many, many families.  While breast cancer will always be close to my heart (in more ways than one), a reality is that today, more women die of heart disease than all forms of cancer, combined.  Maybe it's time to give the pink ribbons a rest and focus on other issues that also take women's lives.  Like domestic violence.

In any event, the SG Komen Foundation can go pee up a rope, as far as I am concerned.  I don't care if they triple their grants to Planned Parenthood.  They are stick-a-fork-in-it done, as far as I'm concerned, and it would not grieve me if shortly enough other people felt the same way that they have to downsize and cut salaries.

How do you feel?  
Do you have a Susan G. Komen story? 
A Planned Parenthood one? 
Or can you recommend another organization that supports breast cancer survivors?

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