Komen: Just the Tip of the Pink Iceberg

[Reposted on October 13, 2012, for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. One day. That’s all MBC gets out of this entire pink circus known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pitiful.]

February 6, 2012: This morning, I found out that my dear, darling friend, snark and ‘bitchblogger’ sister, Rachel Cheetham Moro, died of breast cancer. Many of us first got to know her through her blog Cancer Culture Chronicles. Then, in April of 2011, I had the great joy of meeting her, along with several other of our blog sisters, in person, at the NBCC Conference in Washington, D.C. We got a chance to be ‘real,’ to laugh, to scheme, to tell our collective truth about this miserable disease together. We were friends now in real life as well as in virtual life. It was a friendship that deepened immeasurably over the last year.

Just before I wrote this on Saturday, 2/4, Rach had been in the hospital for a week, in ICU, mostly unconscious, in pain and having seizures from what would turn out to be brain mets. By the time I started it, her family & friends were all waiting to hear for sure the results of tests, but she was conscious again and about to be moved to a regular room. In anxiety and helplessness and outrage and loving concern for her Saturday morning, I wrote this post.

You may visit her blog to leave messages at this link: Rachel Cheetham Moro 1970-2012. We will never forget you, Rach. Never.

I wasn’t going to write a post today. Yeah, it’s World Cancer Day. Yeah, we all heard yesterday that Komen retracted its decision to defund Planned Parenthood. And yeah, the long-awaited documentary film, Pink Ribbons, Inc., about the rampant pink-washing of breast cancer, is going to be distributed in the U.S. It’s a remarkable confluence of events. So it’s certainly not like there’s nothing to blog about.

But I’m tired of cancer. And today, I’m particularly distraught about cancer, because a young woman who is very dear to me is in the hospital. Again. Because of breast cancer. And her friends and family are all waiting to hear whether her mets have spread.

And I think about this remarkable confluence of events, and Komen, and pink-washing, and why we even have to have a World Cancer Day, and it sickens me.

Because my friend was diagnosed in her thirties. Because another friend, who was also diagnosed with breast cancer in her thirties, was turned down by Komen for a small grant to help women get screening mammograms before they’re forty. Because Komen told her that “Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s current screening guidelines are not in line with what your organization promotes,” because their guidelines recommend screening mammograms starting at age forty. Because Susan G. Komen herself was diagnosed with and died of breast cancer in her thirties. Because when another young woman I know tried to get financial assistance from Komen to help her with her breast cancer, Komen failed to help. Because Komen still pushes mammograms as the be-all-and-end-all of ‘prevention,’ when most of us know they have serious limitations, that they don’t even find breast cancer sometimes, especially in young women and women with dense breast tissue. You know. Women like Susan G. Komen.

Because Nancy Brinker happens to be one of the most publicly ill-informed breast cancer spokespersons on the planet. Because Komen has not made metastatic breast cancer, the kind that killed Susan G. Komen, a priority. Because, in fact, Komen spends only 19% of their considerable budget to find that much-vaunted cure they’re supposed to be all about. Because only 2% of all cancer research dollars are spent directly on metastatic cancer. Because only one day in Pinktober is set aside for awareness of metastatic breast cancer.

Because I’m utterly disgusted at this hypocrisy. And I’ve got news for all the folks who finally saw the light about Komen and decided in the last few days to stop supporting them: Komen didn’t deserve your support in the first place, and they haven’t deserved it for a long time now.

So, maybe we should actually be grateful that Komen let its pink, plastic, carcinogenic, over-merchandised mask slip this week and showed their true face. Because it woke a lot of people up, to the insidious speciousness of politics, to the callousness of charities that seem to care more about corporate sponsorship than they do about corporate integrity, to the large holes in our so-called social safety net. And I am truly glad for that awakening. But guess what? As Jody Schoger said in her post yesterday, “…what has changed for women at risk for cancer? Nothing. Poverty is still a carcinogen. Women who are poor are still poor. Their cancers are still detected at later stages when the disease is much more difficult to treat.”

This mess, this perversion of breast cancer awareness, didn’t just happen this week. It’s been going on for decades. And I’m sick of it. Because it needs to change, before more of us die, before we all drown in pink ribbons instead of saving ourselves with genuine enlightenment and solutions. Because it’s just the tip of the pink iceberg.

A link from the Centers for Disease Control about their Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program for underserved women. Not the whole answer, but one of them.

This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Saturday, February 04, 2012 at 02:02 pm, filed under Fighting the Pink Peril, Health & Healthcare, Making A Difference, Metastastatic Breast Cancer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

18 Responses to “Komen: Just the Tip of the Pink Iceberg”

  1. Great post. Proud to say I, too, was anti-Komen before it became fashionable.

  2. Thank you Kathi, a howl of sickened rage is the only possible response to all that’s happening. And mostly I’m thinking of your friend in the hospital tonight. Where all the politics and the posturing disappear. And only love and healthcare remain xx

  3. gj, you’re a true ‘Grumbler.’ xoxo

    Thanks, Ronnie. I feel a little better knowing that we hold her in our collective heart. Love to you & Sarah, too. Always. Need to grab another tissue now. xo

  4. Thank you, Kathi. I’m with you 100% on this. Thinking of your friend, and you. Hugs

  5. Great post, Kathi. I couldn’t agree with you more.

  6. I could never quite put my finger on the reason but I’ve never been a Komen supporter. Only recently did I make a small donation & only because a friend I love dearly was doing the race. In the last few days I have sent a personal note to Komen, signed several petitions & reposted articles about the debacle.
    Keep up the blogs Kathi, they’re great!

  7. Thinking about you and your young friend. I hate cancer.

  8. In our collective heart. Lovely Rach. Some days have too much reality xx

  9. Kathi,
    Thank you for writing this post. It’s getting late and I’m unable to think about sleep as my thoughts are once again consumed with breast cancer’s reality. I’m sick of it too.

  10. You rock. I am working on a new post and will totally be linking to this post. I LOVE the iceberg analogy. BTW, if you (and others) weren’t speaking up, I might not have had the courage to post what I did the other day…and I’ve been needing to get that off my chest for a long, long time. Much appreciation for the inspiration.


  11. So well said. It’s time for Komen to wrap it up. Kay

  12. Kathi,

    Excellent post, and I share your rage. Komen is toxic.

  13. xoxo, Beth. Just heard our Rach died this morning. I wrote this post about her. We can leave comments & remembrances on her blog: http://cancerculturenow.blogspot.com/2012/02/rachel-cheetham-moro-1970-2012.html

  14. Thanks to Beth Gainer I found your blog. . . . Like you I was diagnosed with DCIS. The unexpected episode detoured my job to the off ramp and I found myself in financial free fall. . . . When the choice was make that $1300 a month Cobra payment or make that $!800 a month house payment, the Cobra won out . . . . As I watched my house fall into a state of foreclosure and months later, standing in line at the food bank . . . I began to look at the spectrum of services offered to women and learned there was nothing for anyone like me . . . so in my despair, I decided to do something . . . my quest to get help was met with one to give help and I started The Pink Fund. .. . I would love to talk with you . . . . I have spoken with Gayle at Pink Ribbon Blues as well . . . you can email me above.

    By the way, when I lost a large portion of my amazing right breast, which nourished five children, my husband shared with me the story of the Amazon women, which is why your blog title resonates with me. . . .

    Oh, and like you, I am a boomer with “the legs of a teenager” and I know that is true because my 28 year old daughter tells me so!

  15. Hugs, Molly!!!! Will email you.

  16. Kathi,

    Rachel’s and Susan’s deaths have shaken us all to the core. I left a message on Rach’s blog. I can’t get over how much cancer steals from us. It never seems to end, and I am utterly heartbroken at the loss of these two women.

  17. Kathi,
    I’ve been thinking about what Rachel & Susan’s last weeks must have been like. Their loss has increased my anger and frustration over everything from Komen’s inability to make good decisions to the so called “cure” which, at this point, seems to be a fantasy. Thanks for the pink iceberg. Well done.


  18. Beth, my heart is just trampled.

    Thanks, Bren. You couldn’t invent a more gut-wrenching week than the one we’ve all just been through. Gawd, Komen makes me insane!!!

    #BCSM last night was wonderful, though. It helped. Thank goodness we have each other here in cyberspace. xoxo

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