Well, all over the breast cancer blogging world is commentary on this October, our honorary month. It’s interesting to me that so many women with breast cancer hate the pink ribbon stuff. So, then, who are we doing it for? Is not everyone “aware” by now? Yet even my oldest son…son of a metastatic mother…posted on social media for his followers to “raise awareness”.
Fudge to awareness. I say, go give away some cash. Now. Are you aware that the SAME NUMBER OF WOMEN WITH INITIAL DIAGNOSIS OF METASTATIC BREAST CANCER HAS NOT DROPPED SINCE 1975!!! (Dr. Susan Love 10/14/14) That’s women like moi. Women who got screened. But, for some reason, we were metastatic before the next screening could happen. This makes it clear, does it not, that early detection is not the cure-all. It will cure some. But 20-30% of those “cured” will one day be metastatic. There is still such need for research. Before we can prevent this disease, we need to know what causes it. Perhaps learning the cause will also lead to a cure. Makes logical sense, I think. But, scientists need to make a living. All research money cannot come from government grants. We need to open our wallets. Even just a little. We’ve opened our eyes. We see pink ribbons. We get it. (yep 12% of us GET IT)
So, to whom should we give this money? Ok, I’m not going there with you. Can I tell you something though? Nancy Brinker, founder of that leading Pink organization Susan G. Komen, made $$673,215 in 2011. People got upset and, in 2014, her salary will be $390,000. The president of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Myra Biblowit is said to make well over $500,000. Hmmm. Charity Navigator, who studies not-for-profits, estimates the average president of such organizations make more like $175,000-200,000. The leaders of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, Susan Love Research Foundation and many others I looked up make less than $200k/yr. Now, I realize that some are paid as a percentage of revenue, but doesn’t that give you even more pause. More revenue in the for-profit world is certain to be awarded in higher salaries. But, in the not-for-profit world, many of us assume the president takes a fair share and more goes to programming.
Please just be aware. Every pink ribbon is not created equal. And no pink ribbon will cure anyone, anywhere. Our dollars are better spent on research, free mammograms and such. We have created an entire industry. And it’s unnecessary. And, really, it’s obnoxious. If you lost your breasts to cancer, how would you feel about the “save the tatas” or “coppa feel” organizations? Umm, women have LOST their breasts here, marketing firms!
And the string of bras to show your support…draped over bridges and the like…funny. Did you take the bras of the women who no longer need them because they don’t have breasts? Why do you keep putting in the face of breast cancer survivors the very thought of what made them ill? Why are you reminding them of what they’re missing? And why is every woman in a BC ad smiling? It is NOT a fun disease.
October sometimes finds us feeling good about Pink. Pink M&Ms, pink fuzzy socks, pink watches, pink scarves. All of them are gonna donate some money to a breast cancer cause. That’s nice. Kinda like the magazine drive at my kids’ school. If you want those items anyway, perfect…buy them, support the cause. But if you don’t want socks or scarves and you don’t read magazines, please remember that only a small percentage of your dollars are going to the charity. Your impact is so much greater with a direct donation. Just open your wallet. A little.
A friend of mine says that giving in the spirit of charity is good enough. It’s on the charity to be effective. The giver has done their part by giving. Hmm. No. I don’t give my money away with that little discretion for anything else. I pay the lawn guy. But, if he doesn’t show up to mow, I won’t keep paying him. If he just puts a sign in my yard, making me aware that my yard needs mowing, I won’t keep paying him. If he takes so much of that money and takes a great vacation, then can’t afford gas for his mower, I’m not going to give him even more. So, no, giving in the spirit of charity is not enough. It’s nice. It’s pretty. It’s fluffy and feels good. But, it’s not enough.
In conclusion, I’d like to remind you that, like most diseases, breast cancer sucks. It maims women. It strips women of their self-assuredness. It kills 40,000 of us each year. Pink ribbons don’t really help anymore. They had there place and time. But, that’s over now. My son is sweet to want to help in some way. Everyone is sweet. But, people are dying…are you aware? Not everyone crosses the finish line with a big smile and a cute pink tank top. Some people die. Let’s try to stop that! THAT is the message in October.
For an artistic look at what breast cancer really looks like, please visit http://www.thescarproject.org and peruse the gallery.