Those of you who read my blog know that I’m living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. Before my diagnosis, even though my mom is a survivor of breast cancer, I was astonishingly ignorant about breast cancer and trials and drugs and so many things that now occupy my entire life. I look back and am a little perplexed why I wasn’t more interested in learning more, in understanding more about genetics and how I might be affected. Coping mechanism, I suppose.
Now that I am immersed in the world of metastatic breast cancer, the more I learn, the more I’m enraged.
It pisses me off that breast cancer has become a brand in the US.
Like really pisses me off.
I often grill people about where funds go when I see something pink. I’m sure some of them might recover at some point. Being under cross examination is not a fun experience, I know, I’ve been there.
I don’t feel bad about it because they will remember. Vividly.
The only reason that the pink fluffy stuff that helps no one but the seller continues to thrive is because people buy it. Does it help the buyer think that they are doing something good? Probably. For a minute or two. Does it help those of us dying of breast cancer? Not usually. If any of the proceeds of those items are donated to breast cancer research, it might amount to pennies.
I didn’t understand this after my mother’s diagnosis. She participated in the Komen races for the cure for years and so did I. In fact, my law firm had teams for many years and we raised a lot of money. I’m sure I’ve purchased a lot of pink products over the years, believing I was doing something to honor my mother. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t look farther than that. Maybe I didn’t want to know. Maybe the act of participating was in itself the expression of love for my mother. I confess that I cried every year, remembering the fear and worry that accompanied that time in my life.
Now that I’m immersed in the breast cancer world, I feel betrayed, duped, taken advantage of, and royally pissed off.
Yes, you read that right.
I feel betrayed, personally betrayed, by all of those companies (including and especially Komen), who made money and gained notoriety off of the idea of curing breast cancer, but haven’t actually put their money where their mouth is.
As all good branding people do, now that a new generation of women with breast cancer are aware of the duplicity, Komen and others are starting to pivot. Now those of us metastatic people have separate shirts, colors and the theme of many events are “more than pink,” or some other such nonsense.
Apparently, they realized that when a company says they are “for the cure” and yet donate less than 20% of their PROFITS to research, that just might be false advertising.
News flash, that’s exactly what it is. FALSE.
I know that some of my metsters (those who are also living with this insidious disease) have spent time and effort to change some of these issues from inside Komen. I’ve seen several participate as honorary chairs of Komen events, using their own branding to help Komen pivot. I do see that there could be value in that endeavor.
That feels to me like lipstick on a pig. You can’t dress up an organization and pretend the whole history hasn’t happened.
And it’s unforgivable.