May 28th, 2011
While I have had fun making fun of all the pink crap that purports to support breast cancer patients, I have avoided direct criticism of the Susan Komen Foundation. Until now.
It’s not just because they are one of the top two most trusted nonprofit brands and I want to stay in my readers’ good graces. I respect you too much to pander like that.
I have hesitated because of people like this:
I don’t know these women. I got their picture off Flickr.
They are completely fabulous though.
I know women who have felt transformed by the Three Day Walks, Komen’s signature event. I cannot overstate their symbolic power. They provide community. They make a natural place for a comeback from treatment or even grief. They are a way of giving cancer the middle finger. The feeling of unity and purpose at these events humbles me.
How can you criticize an organization that makes these experiences possible?
Friends, I have to speak up. While the unity may be 100% real, the purpose has become distorted. I feel that these women and the people who donate to them are being misled. I do not like to see people’s good intentions exploited.
I realize I’m a little late to the Komen critique party. Heck, there’s an entire blog dedicated to Komen oversight. Others have already pointed out how little of Komen’s money goes to research. More egregiously, they have trademarked the phrase For the Cure® and they sue smaller organizations for using it.
“For the Cure” trademarked? Maybe we’d cut them slack if they truly were about curing breast cancer. Instead, we learn that only 2% of their funding focuses on metastatic disease.
Let’s face it. If you don’t deal with metastatic disease, you are not focusing on The Cure. Since 20% of all survivors will get metastatic disease, regardless of stage at diagnosis, there is a 1 in 5 chance that this will become our problem, if it isn’t already. We need cures. Real ones, not just the kind you find on key chains.
The trademarking should have tipped us off. Trademarking is not about science. It’s about profit.
Komen has become a brand to such an extent that the reality of breast cancer has been lost.
A friend recently told me that Komen founder Nancy Brinker would be appearing on HSN. I assumed that meant Health Science Network.
Can you tell I am not a regular patron of the Home Shopping Network?
What was the straw that broke my back?
It’s Nancy’s latest product, Promise Me™ perfume.
My outrage is simple and comes in three parts: linking cancer to a perfume, the weird beauty breast cancer connection, and the misleading use of the money.
1. Many people in chemo, myself included, become incredibly chemically sensitive. I almost passed out when a woman at my gym sprayed perfume in the locker room. I was shaking and it took a half an hour for the episode to pass. The last thing I wanted to be near or around was any kind of fragrance. There is even evidence that fragrance may be carcinogenic – For the Cure® indeed!
2. Why do we have beauty products to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer alone? It is the only form of cancer that demands that we stay beautiful, even as we puke our guts out and lose our hair. Komen perpetuates this ideal.
I call shaved head. Or photoshop. She still has eyebrows.
Couldn’t they have photoshopped her eyebrows?
Breast cancer is the Beautiful Cancer. Can you imagine a brain cancer perfume? How about anal cancer? Why is there not the same dissonance with breast cancer? It’s all cancer, for crying out loud!
3. This “floriental” scented perfume costs $59.00. Of that, how much do you think goes to research? If you said $1.51, you are correct! (Thanks for the math, Uneasy Pink!)
Since Komen spends a minuscule fraction of that on researching metastatic disease, very little of your fifty-nine bucks is going toward a cure.
Hell hath no fury like a nauseous me involuntarily squirted with perfume, Komen. It’s on now.
To the fantastic walkers, I still love you. May I direct you to Susan Love’s Foundation’s Avon Walk? She is a breast oncologist focused on research.
(Yeah, I know. Avon. Beauty. But I still say it’s better…)
In the meantime, my fabulous online family has been coming up with better names for this perfume.
Who says breast cancer patients have no sense of humor?
This entry was posted on Saturday, May 28th, 2011 at 8:57 pm and is filed under Survivorship. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.