First, apologies for the exaggeration in that linkbait title. Obviously not every single person in the world is mad at Komen, although I’m sure it must feel like it sometimes to their PR people. This post is more of an open letter to Komen. So here goes.
Dear Susan G. Komen for the Cure,
I’m sure you must be wondering why so many people are coming down on you, when all you want is to help women with breast cancer. I won’t go into the actions that have prompted irate reactions; I’m sure you’re already well aware of them. (For those readers who aren’t, I encourage you to visit Pink Ribbon Blues and The Cancer Culture Chronicles.)
The one argument I would like to make here is on behalf of research. There are a lot of people out there, including me, who would like to see you shift some of your considerable influence and money from education to research.
My friend Rachel, who blogs at Cancer Culture Chronicles, recently looked at what you do with your money and found that between 2004 and 2009, you spent only 23% of “Net Public Support and Revenue” on actual research, compared to 36 percent on education.
Rachel is an accountant so I trust her numbers. Beyond that, she is fighting for her life against metastatic breast cancer. I trust her to correct any math errors she sees in my posts, that is, if she can fight through the steadily worsening pain and get her arm and eye to work. This is what metastatic breast cancer does. It marches through the body like Sherman marched on Atlanta, torching everything in its path and rendering it useless. Rachel and her doctors are doing everything they can to fight it off, but since no one really knows how mets work or how to stop them, they’re using the medical equivalent of pitchforks and clubs against the nuclear warhead of endlessly replicating cells. They’re buying time.
This is why I beg you to focus more on the research that may help Rachel and other friends of mine, like Pam, stick around. After all, you’re for The Cure; your name says so. And isn’t the only way to find a cure through research?
With more than a third of your money going to education, it’s clear that you think education and awareness are important. But I would argue that the pink awareness ship has sailed, and it’s laden with retail merchandise. If there’s any doubt breast cancer awareness has its own shopping season, no less a bastion of capitalism than the Wall Street Journal says so. If that doesn’t make it official, I don’t know what does.
The widespread success of Pinktober is in large part due to your efforts. No one has done more to raise awareness of breast cancer than you. You’re the gold standard, the 800-pound gorilla of awareness. No one who has followed your story can doubt the power of how one woman’s promise can turn into a grassroots movement and then some. Just think of what could happen if you focused that power on research.
Think of all the good you’ve done already. Think of how much more good you could do. We’re counting on you. Rachel and Pam are counting on you.