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Friday, August 28, 2009

We Are Not Your Fucking Cure

I met Jen through my friend Lisa, who introduced us via email after I was first diagnosed, since Jen had BC as well. When shit like this happens, friends and family try to be helpful, say the right things, but that’s hard to do because you don’t know what that person is thinking or feeling unless you’ve been there. Jen knew, she had been there, and still was. She was first diagnosed in 2005, and the breast cancer then metastasized to her liver in 2007. In June of this year, one day out of the blue her vision was blurry – yep, it had spread to her brain. But Lisa and I stopped by to see her about a month ago, and she was FINE. Or seemed fine. Sitting in her living room, you’d never know she was sick.

Lisa and I are going to her wake today.

She died because, contrary to popular belief, there is no cure for breast cancer. You can be in remission (NED = No Evidence of Disease) for many years, but it sure does a pretty good job of coming back. We could ask Kristine about that – also from Chicago – who told a friend that when she first found out that the cancer was back after 9 years of NED, she ran down the street in her pajamas and bare feet, screaming “I don’t want to die!” Except that we can’t ask her, because she died last week too.

Which brings me to my point – my point other than the one about how shitty it is that Jen is gone – which is that Komen and its fundraising and its Race for the Cure and all the rest of it, is doing a great disservice to women with breast cancer. Especially young women. Yes, surprise surprise – there are MANY of us out here who do not like the Komen organization. Why? Well, here’s one woman's opinion:

“Komen can suck my big toe for the "I am the cure" campaign. I am not the fucking cure and neither is anyone else because we don't have a fucking cure and if they doubt that I can take them on a tour of a few cemeteries and point it out to them real fucking clearly. For an organization founded by/around young BC they sure as hell don't do much for the younger crowd.”

Because they perpetuate the myth that there IS a cure, so you wind up with people telling you asinine things along the lines of “oh, breast cancer, these days that’s like getting the flu” or saying that BC is the “popular” or “trendy” cancer to have. Right. Maybe it is, but that’s sure not helping us much, now is it? Especially since it’s not clear what the fuck all Komen and these other groups do with ALL THAT MONEY. But people see how much money is raised, and they either resent it, or think it’s done more than it has.

What I don’t get is how an organization that was founded because Susan Komen died at the age of 36 from BC, doesn’t spend more of that money for research on younger women. Oh sure, they’ve made progress. They know that breast cancer is more aggressive in younger women – but they don’t know why. They have drugs to help treat certain kinds of tumors – oops, but a recent study suggests that that drug may increase your chance of getting the OTHER kind of breast cancer tumor (though that study seems to have been done on post-menopausal women – shocking! Pretty much all of them are.). And let’s see, the first line of attack is still to suggest lopping off your boobs then poisoning your body with chemo and then blasting you with radiation for good measure – hmm, pretty much the same stuff they did 20 years ago. Slash and burn all the way, baby. But hey, they’ve really got those advances in reconstruction coming along like hotcakes, so yay for the boobs!

Though I’m pretty sure if you asked, most women would say screw the boobs, save my fucking life already. But maybe that’s just me.

So needless to say, I will not be participating in any Komen activities this year. I get why people do participate, and why friends and families want to, to feel like they’re doing something supportive. And just that part, that support, is awesome and amazing, and I’m very grateful and thankful for the wonderful friends who came out to the Race last year to support me. They all rock. But this “I am the cure!” slogan that Komen has? That’s nauseating, quite frankly. Where’s the fucking cure? Did we all miss it somehow? Overlooked it on the way to getting our fantastic new boobs?


Maybe someone who’s figured it out can let me know. In the meantime, I have a wake to go to. Rest in peace, Jen. You deserved a hell of a lot more.

8 comments:

D said...

I, for one, am looking forward to your new boobs.

Debbie said...

You said it all...and so perfectly! Thank you, sister!

Colleen said...

I can understand your criticism of the bad slogan. I support Koman b/c of my friend Shannon, who died of BC 5 years ago. At the time she was diagnosed, she didn't have insurance. She applied to Koman for a grant, and they paid ALL her expenses--years of chemo, radiation, mastectomy and plastic surgery, hysterectomy to decrease her estrogen, surgery to remove her brain tumor, more chemo, more radiation. This treatment gave her years of life, and she relished them. I miss her everyday.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Very well said -

I'm really sorry for your loss...I don't know what else to say or how to really say it. But I'm thinking of you.

Cancer sucks. As for the boobs - well, boob-people are no good. Boobs on the body...better :)

Tasha the Triathlon Goddess said...

Colleen, I'm glad your friend got more time. Maybe Komen's policies have changed, but their current policy is clear: "The Komen Foundation is unable to provide funds directly to individuals because funding is limited to organizations."

Your friend is the only individual I've ever heard of who's been helped by Komen in this fashion.

JoJo said...

Well that SUCKS! Keep telling it like it is. And enjoy the new boobs when you get them ;-)

Stephen said...

I love the way you cut through the bullshit. The world need more people like you who tell it straight out. If I was in your shoes I would be mad as hell and its refreshing to hear someone tell it straight out without worrying if they sound like a Hallmark card or not...

Anonymous said...

Regarding awareness, the little pink ribbon goes only so far.

Time to pull out the big guns:

http://imgur.com/MGqb7.jpg

...John
.