Sunday, May 9, 2010

The antidote to Komen = the Pink Daisy Project

Note: This post is more serious than my usual posts, so if that doesn’t interest you, well, consider yourselves warned. I’m sure my next post will be about my usual Schleprockian bad luck, i.e. a house falling on my head, etc.

Komen. I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand why those of us with BC could possibly have problems with this organization. Why we’re so passionate about our dissent. After all, haven’t they brought breast cancer to the forefront, helped raise awareness, raised tons of money, wrapped everything in that sunshiny pink? I suppose so, but consider the following:

1. I do not know a single person who’s been helped by Komen personally. Not one. Given that they talk so much about how much they do for survivors, what exactly do they do on a personal level? I’ve checked their websites, and they even state that they don’t give money or grants to individuals. Gee, thanks. There are a LOT of women who could use just some tiny small part of the $1.5 billion you’ve collected to date.

2. Yes, $1.5 billion, not $1.2 as I stated in a previous post. Sorry for the error. No wonder some people call them Komoney.

3. Breast cancer treatment doesn’t seem a whole hell of a lot more advanced now than it was 20 years ago. I’m taking the same drugs that Robyn’s mother took 20 years ago. Adrienne L., who found out she had the BC gene, still had everything that could potentially be deadly removed: breasts, ovaries, etc. It’s still all about the slash and burn.

4. Speaking of which, why the hell haven’t they made any advanced in chemo in all this time so that it’s not quite as, say, DEADLY?? Deadly as in killing the women it’s supposed to help. Danica, who got leukemia from chemo. Ally, who’s in end-stage heart failure right now because of chemo. And my dear friend Jennifer, who I’m pretty sure had her death hastened because of the harshness of her chemo regimen. WTF? This is the best we can do?

5. Medical advances require money, I get that. Well, $1.5 billion is a whole hell of a lot of money. I could take that cash and set up labs and populate them with a lot of capuchin monkeys in lab coats, and do better than Komen has done so far, I’m pretty sure.

6. Oh, but they have had advances! What about Herceptin? You know, the great drug for women who are Her2 positive? Yep, great drug. Its development was funded by….Revlon.

7. Komen’s dumbass slogan “I am the cure!” is offensive. There is no fucking cure. But they make people think there IS one, that BC isn’t a big deal. It is.

8. Speaking of offensive – when it comes to money, do the ends always justify the means? Is it okay for Komen to take money from anyone at all, because that money goes to fund – well, whatever they fund? In my opinion, no. It is NOT okay to give your stamp of approval to and collect money from fricking Jingle Jugs, for god’s sake. Which are bikini-clad boobs mounted on a wooden trophy rack. Hello, Komen brain trust, how could you not understand how offensive this is to those of us with fake boobs through no choice of our own?

9. Partnering with KFC, also a bad idea. I have nothing against KFC – if people want to eat fried chicken, have at it. BUT, given what a huge risk factor being overweight is for BC, and given the fact that commercial chicken is loaded with chemicals and hormones and so on – again, why give this your stamp of approval?

10. If “awareness” is such a huge thing for Komen, then why is it that so many doctors STILL tell young women who go to them with a lump “oh, that can’t be anything serious, young women don’t get breast cancer.” Try telling that to Karen George. Or tell it to her grave, because she’s dead. Her treatment was delayed until she was stage 4, because she was told “you can’t possibly have breast cancer.” Where’s the awareness among the medical community?

Some might think oh, I’m just bitter about the Bat Girl thing. Which isn’t the case. Again, I knew a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t won, and wasn’t ranting about it. And they picked a lot of worthy women, which is great. But the fact that EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has as a commonality the raising of money for Komen – yes, that pisses me off. Because that means that the only real criteria was what one has done for Komen – and to politicize something like this so blatantly is offensive.

I’m not saying, for example, that the woman who won for the Cubs was unworthy. But her story again was focused on her participation in the Komen 3-day Walk. Compare that to Tracey. I haven’t even met Tracey yet, but I love this woman, just based on what I know about her. I found the YSC message boards too late to ever meet Courtney, a young woman from Chicago who died of BC at the age of 23. But in a search of posts, reading about her, I kept seeing one name posting over and over again – that of Brown Eyed Girl, gathering support for Courtney, getting people to send cards and flowers and treats and gifts, even as Courtney was at Northwestern, dying, her bones breaking every time she moved because the cancer had spread to her bones. Tracey was there every step of the way, no matter how hard it was for her to watch her friend die.

Don’t tell me that’s not more important than a fucking 3-day walk.

So this is why we’re pissed off. This is personal for us. We watch our friends die horrible painful deaths, while Komen yammers on about a non-existent cure and doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot for young women with BC, with all their money. They keep talking about the importance of “awareness” – when what we need is a cure. And we don’t like it when everything – even baseball - boils down to how much money people can raise for Komen.

Now, don’t get me wrong. If people want to participate in the 3-day walks and so on, I’m certainly not going to condemn them. To each her own - we’re all adults, we make our own decisions on who and what to support. But for anyone looking for an alternative, who wants to know exactly what their money will be used for, consider the Pink Daisy Project. This organization was started by a woman named Debbie, after she saw how her friend Danica struggled with everyday things as she was battling not just cancer, but all the brutal side effects of the treatment, and the complications. All of the money that Debbie collects goes to help women personally, with their medical or household needs. She is truly making a tangible difference in these women’s lives.

One other thing – every picture you see here is of one of our sisters who died of breast cancer.

Were they the cure?


Debbie said...

I have tears in my eyes as I write this, not because I am grateful for your support of my cause, but because you reminded me why I do this. Seeing the pictures of girls I knew and loved. ALL but one who benefited in some way from our donations. One received a spa gift card to bolster her spirits after learning her cancer was terminal. Another received a thorough top-to-bottom housecleaning (I'm talking a team of men spending an entire day) so she could rest in peace during her last few weeks. For another, we sent her son a rather large gift for his college fund after his mom passed (as requested by the family). We don't normally give cash, but we'd been raising money for his mom when she died long before we anticipated. That's just the women who died. For those girls we help who are fighting NOT to die, we help with groceries, house cleaning and meals. Or really, whatever she might need to help make her cancer journey a little easier. Thank you Tasha, for your support. It means so much. I know I have rather lofty goals, but it's my hope that someday we'll be bigger than Komen. And we can raise billions to help women who are struggling today.

Kim said...

I am sobbing here! Thank you for writing a beautiful post that honors those we have lost, acknowledges the wonderful work that Debbie/Pink Daisy Project does, and highlights the reality of Komen.

Komen has made breast cancer seem like it is no big deal. All their commercials show women smiling, walking, laughing, running and jumping for joy like this disease is a freaking party. That is why after my diagnosis I heard over and over "well, at least its just breast cancer is so much worse" or "if you have to have cancer, breast cancer is the best one to get". AUGH - are you kidding me.

And by the way Komen...I am not the cure, if I was I would not have gone through chemo, radiation and five surgeries. I would not have allowed my dear friends to suffer or leave young children behind. I am NOT the cure.

Debbie - you know how much I love you and and all you do for so many of our sisters in need. Thank you!!

birdwatcher said...

Makes me think. No doubt I love Debbie's charity and I've had my issues with Komen over the years. It is difficult to know what to say about the Komen "machine," but at least I know that Debbie is helping actual human beings with names and families and that is important.

J Dye said...

Have you ever worked with Jonny Imerman of Imerman Angels? I apologize if you have already heard of this organization, but I thought I would forward it to you as well. I met Jonny through my wife and have been pretty impressed with his organization over the years.

Great write up on Komen, I think spreading the "awareness" about their efforts and funding levels should be better known.

Tasha the Triathlon Goddess said...

Jack, I only heard about Imerman recently, as a matter of fact - there's another great organization that should be getting a lot more press! There's actually a meeting tomorrow (5/11) in Chicago at which he's speaking - really looking forward to hearing him talk. Thanks for the reminder about the great work he does....

Sherri said...

Let me start by saying I LOVE Debbie and all that she does. She has helped so many of our sisters, and will continue to do so.
That said, I do have to say that I also think Komen does their fair share of good. The money raised from the walks-75% stays in the community it was raised in, and that is what the affiliates use to give out their grants. The Chicago affiliate gave out 1.4 million in grants this year. It is the organizations that get the grants that help the individuals.
Komen whole as an organization uses their power and part of their money to lobby for more funding, better research, and better health care for all breast cancer survivors at the government level.
So while we may not be able to see on the day to day level, or know someone they personally touched, they are a good organization fighting for us all.
As far as the various funding raising "techniques" I am all for a straight donation over the gimmicks and pink washing any day.

Klara said...

Komen fund pays for research.. the chemos we receive, the drugs to antidote the effects. Many of us do not succumb to the disease. I am still here thanks to grounds made.

I am very impressed with your support. That's awesome

t-odd said...

OK I need to catch up on a couple of posts. The pink bats - they look like something I may or may not have seen on a website where things of that nature may or may not be used for things in no way related to baseball. Komen - How much money do they spend on advertising and marketing!? That shit ain't free. If I hear the fucking ad for the 3-day one more time I am going to rip the radio out of my car. A "non-profit" that advertises that much seems a little suspect.

Angela and David Kidd said...

This is a great post. You have an amazing way with getting right to point and heart of a matter.

Cassie said...

I believe we owe our lives to the women who survived and led the way before us, not to Komen. Yes, advancements have been made in pharmaceuticals, but they've mostly benefitted "typical" (over 55) breast cancer patients. Those of us under 40 are still dying at a grossly disproportionate rate. Komen has become the monster it sought to destroy. But hey, I get it. We all have to sell off pieces of our souls to get what we want, don't we? Principals are expensive.