Thursday, May 6, 2010

On not being a Bat Girl

Or....Bite Me, Komen

I knew as of about 2 weeks ago that my dream of being a Bat Girl was going to remain just that – a dream. Oh, not that the MLB let any of us know directly – Dayna, Tracey and I figured it out via process of elimination, in that we knew one girl from YSC who had been notified, ergo those of us who hadn’t been, hadn’t won. Oh well. And YSC Jamie was certainly deserving, though the rest of us got a sinking feeling when we read her story and saw that it was very heavy on the Komen angle – fundraising, forming a team, etc. That didn’t bode well for the rest of us, and so it was.

So what I was going to write about it all at the time was this: that while I was disappointed that I didn’t win, I could honestly say that I was so moved by all the people who rallied for me, that it really didn’t matter. Oh sure, I felt like I let people down, people who risked getting carpal tunnel by voting for me incessantly, and I was bummed for my brother, because the chance to meet some of his beloved White Sox players would have been a dream come true for him, and it would have been a tiny way to kind of sort of repay him for all he’s done for me.

And I wanted my perfect day at the ballpark back.

But in the end, I was okay with it. I mean, such is life. There were other people who had really good stories, so I assumed one of them won. Good for them, really. And honestly, having all the folks on Slowtwitch pulling for me on two separate threads, having my old Wharton Wildmen hockey teammates spreading the word, having my dear sisters voting so much they wound up with hand cramps, having my friends doing what they could to make it happen – that touched me in ways I can’t even fully describe.

I was actually more pissed off on Dayna’s behalf – Bronx Bombshell – who is a NY Yankees fanatic, was first in votes for that team, and who had a story that would bring tears to the eyes of even the hardest of hearts:

"I would like to nominate the biggest Yankee fan I've ever known, my best friend. She was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer Feb 14, 2007, just months after giving birth to her daughter, in addition to battling a brain tumor for 16 years. I watched her crack jokes about herself just to make us feel better after they removed her breasts. I observed the panic when her treatment was delayed due to a potentially fatal infection she contracted at the hospital, requiring her to be hospitalized yet again. Not one moment did she display a sign of weakness. Her husband continues to tell the story how she sobbed for joy uncontrollably while at game six of the 1996 world series, but never shed a single tear throughout this ordeal. It's no secret what chemotherapy & radiation does to people. What I wasn't prepared for was observing her host multiple fundraisers while still receiving chemo. Going against her family & oncologist she decided to walk 40 miles for the Avon Walk in NYC. Not only did she succeed, but she raised over $50,000 & was recognized as the highest grossing individual fundraiser out of the thousands of participants. She's always been a fundraiser but this put an additional fire under her. She immediately became an emergency contact person in her area. I watched her send other cancer survivors support, food, wigs & whatever they needed. I've also watched her stand at podiums bald, tired & burned to continue to raise awareness, money & hope. She's a mentor & advisor for several breast cancer organizations & continues to educate/counsel those in need. She's a committee member & constituent of the Young Survival Coalition in NYC. For the past ten years she's been conducting toy drives for underprivileged children & this past year has opened up a division to include children who have either lost a parent to cancer or if their survivor parent is experiencing financial hardship. She has singlehandedly raised & distributed over ten thousand toys in past years. Against advice to stay away from germy environments she continued to go to Yankee games, scarf wrapped around her head, & always promised not to touch Freddy's germy spoon! I personally witnessed an amazing example of who my friend is when she was anonymously nominated by a chemo nurse for their wish granting program & graciously denied acceptance. She simply indicated that she was sure there was someone who needed it more. In 2008 I watched as she prepared for an additional surgery to remove her brain tumor, which was partially removed due to increased risk of vision loss. She continues her life as a wife & mother of four children, a community volunteer for endless causes, not to mention a fulltime Yankee fan and season ticket holder since 1996!"

So yes, I’m biased in favor of my girls, but come on, how could she NOT win? And in doing some research beforehand on other contenders, it was kind of depressing to see Facebook sites for these 3-day walks, where people were working so hard to raise the necessary $2300, and seeing the laments from survivors who didn’t quite raise enough money, and certainly couldn’t make up the difference themselves, given their huge medical bills. That above all else made the Komen stuff seem like nothing but a huge money-making machine.

Anyway, that was that. Then, last night, I realized that I had no idea who actually DID win, so I decided to use the Mighty Google to see what I could find out. And found the list of winners. And saw that the person who won for the White Sox……..was someone who wasn’t even a survivor, but who did a hell of a lot of walking and money-raising for Komen.

And then, I was pissed off. Royally.

A WALKER??? Not a survivor who does these walks, but just someone who walks?? And for every story I read from the winners, there was a common thread: they all raised a lot of money for Komen, via 3-day walks, etc. All the other things that were supposed to count – originality of story, writing, voting – none of that factored in, obviously. The girl who won for Dayna’s team? Lots of Komen stuff. Tracey’s team? Gushing about the 3-day walk. Of course.

Now, I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a fan of Komen – because I really want to know what the fuck-all they’ve done with the $1.2 billion or so they’ve raised to date. Plus, the fact that they’ll slap their name on pretty much anything makes them a corporate whore in my book, no matter how you look at it.

But to stoop to this level of cynicism, to make it ALL about the Komen, is beyond the pale. No, it’s not a huge deal that I’m not getting a fricking pink bat – it’s the principle of the thing. Is nothing sacred? And really, how much of a patsy am *I* to be trying to get people to vote for me, as if it really mattered. Clearly, I was never even in the running. What a waste of all of our time.

What’s even more infuriating is how Komen pats itself on the back in their press release, talking about how they’re doing such a great thing for us survivors:

"'Now, in its second year, Honorary Bat Girl stories continue to amaze us," said Katrina McGhee, senior vice president, global business development and partnerships at Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "To hear how these survivors have overcome the shock and fear of a diagnosis and then dedicate themselves to bringing awareness to this disease and raising funds for research and community programs is incredible. Advocates like these help us get one step closer to our promise: to save lives and end breast cancer forever.'"

Except they picked someone who isn’t. I’m curious to see how the inevitable interview with the Walker will go, on game day:

Reporter: So tell us about your cancer journey, what it’s been like going through numerous surgeries, chemo, radiation, the fear of impending death, the taking of cancer drug FatSurly which has made you, well, fat and surly, to the point that you want to shoot yourself?

Walker: Oh, I’ve never had cancer, so my Cancer Journey has been a bit different from most, and I don’t know the first thing about any of that. But I’ve done a lot of walking! And it was hot! In August! Boy, you can’t imagine what that’s like unless you’ve been through it.

Good luck with that.

I will say this though – that my story for next year will be the most ridiculous bit of pablum ever to grace the pages of the MLB website. Here’s a potential excerpt:

“When I first found out I had aggressive stage II breast cancer, my first thought was this: how can I use this pink gift to benefit others as I embark on my Cancer Journey? And how can I best be a Pink Warrior for Komen? These thoughts, more than even thoughts of how cancer would affect my life and possibly kill me, were foremost. And even as I was lying in bed recuperating from grueling daily radiation treatments as I watched my beloved White Sox battle to victory much like I was, I was working with friends to form Team in Bacon, so that we could go to bat against breast cancer by raising shitloads of money for Komen.

Even now, as I sit on the couch with my dog Ko(na)men eating Buckets for the Cure, I am constantly spreading the word about Komen on my blog,”

Hey, that’s basically true – I mean, I don’t specify what KIND of word I’m spreading, right? And the picture that accompanies my story will of course have me holding my Komen-sponsored Jingle Jugs.

This could be my finest work yet.
- -

As part of my final “fuck you” to Komen, I vow this – that pink bat or no, this summer my brother is going to come to town, and we’ll go to a White Sox game, and have our perfect day at the ballpark regardless. I’ll wear my F&ck Awareness, Find a Cure t-shirt, and hoist many mai tais both in honor of my sisters, and as a thank you to all of you, my thirteens of readers, for all your support.

And okay, if I get half a chance, I’ll run out onto the field screaming “All Hail the Boobages” – a suggestion from a friend, which I kind of like. Hey, what are they gonna do, Taser me?? Wait…


Debbie said...

Tasha, I LOVED that! Truly. You and I see eye-to-eye on the politics of Komen. As a friend of Dayna's and fellow survivor sister, I agree completely that 1) Dayna should have won hands-down. That girl has a bigger heart than any other survivor I've met. 2) The pink corporate whores have gone way too far with this KFC crap. Slapping a pink ribbon on a piece of fried chicken is not breast cancer awareness. 3) There's nothing to show for the millions (or $1.2 billion, as you say) raised by Komen. Which leads me to 4) I started a charity a few years ago called The Pink Daisy Project. We raise money that goes to help women struggling TODAY. Young women who can't wait for a cure. We help women cope with breast cancer treatment by providing grocery and restaurant gift cards, and housecleaning.

Just wanted to tell you that I love your point of view, agree Dayna is a hell of a woman, and that if you want to support the breast cancer effort but don't want to pad Komen's pockets anymore, check us out.

Adrienne said...

If what this article says is correct, this woman deserved to be Honorary Bat Girl over yours truly:

"(Lainie) Goodman was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer in three places and her lymph nodes three years ago. The Suffolk County third-grade teacher underwent intravenous treatments, chemotherapy and radiation for two years and is now cancer free."

(Chemo + rads + Zometa + 3rd graders = You deserve every award out there!)

(And so does the Pink Daisy Project, where any and all money will not go to pink ribboned fried chicken.!)

Frostymama said...

Am beyond ticked off with the whole process
A.) my friend should have won. So says me.
B.) I should have played the marketing ("Komen, Komen, Komen!") and sympathy card (listing her mortality stats) for her- but not her style.
C.) Komen is ignorant. Dayna has the power to raise more money for them then a pack of sorority girls any day.
D.) Because if you saw how my chemo'd-bald girlfriend barked at me (healthy person) to "KEEP UP!" during a pink walk, hell- I would have entered myself in this race, plugged a few K words & possibly been able to cop a feel from some fine baseball boy booties.

You don't know the half of what this girl does for others, and she is not motivated by being recognized or acknowledged. Anyway, glad to see someone else who is not tickled pink over this whole thing (sorry couldn't resist the pun)

dayna said...

Ladies, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your words should be heard everywhere with regard to Komoney -- I mean Komen. Excuse me. Must have had something in my throat. You want to know the most important part of all, I would have towel-dried off Jeter like he was my newborn baby and, if they lost, would have placed his little head on my foobs for comfort.

What Tracey had done for "sisters" is not possible to fit into a writeup. She may not even remember, but the first time I ever spoke with Tracey was when she was trying to get help for Courtney and she took time and patience in detailing how I could help and what she needed, even though in her heart she knew she would never get to use what I was sending her. That's how short her time was and Tracey knew it, but she held her hand and told her how she would get to see the Sex and the City movie the following week, knowing it would never happen. They do not make too many women like Tracey.

Tasha, I'm in awe of your spirit, humor, strength and heart. You are beautiful and strong and move and climb mountains for awareness. Yet, somehow you lost to a woman who got an ingrown toenail? Thank you for caring about me without really knowing me. You probably didn't even realize you made me feel special. I like that in a person.

Deb, I'm a better person for having met you and being lucky enough that you trusted me and allowed me to try to make a difference in the lives of some of your best girls. I anxiously look forward to anything we can do together. You are and will always be a rockstar and for sure Grandma Daisy would be proud of you.

Kim is my best friend since we were little kids. She is the type of person that you can sit and bullshit with about nothing, yet you don't want the night to end because departing from the night together without a doubt leaves you with the feeling that it was one of the best nights of your life and nothing could possibly top it. It's truly a magical gift and, reading the writeup she wrote about me, you can see exactly what I'm talking about. She is one of the most gifted women I've ever know and I love her to pieces.

So wtf are we going to charge the f'n field or what (just how jersey do I sound right about now?)

cappiello8 said...

Tasha thank you for putting our feelings about Dayna getting screwed into words. (hands are still cramped up from voting)

Hope you and your brother have a great day at the ballpark!

Love Marlene and Mickey