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Category Archives: People

I Will Not Be Pinkwashed: Komen’s Race is for Money, Not the Cure

Title: I Will Not Be Pinkwashed: Komen’s Race is for Money, Not the Cure

Author: Dr. Mercola

Publication: Food Consumer

Publication Date:  February 22, 2012

“The multimillion-dollar company behind all those pink “breast cancer awareness” ribbons — the Susan G. Komen Foundation – uses less than a dime of each dollar to actually look for a breast cancer cure, as promised.

Plastering pink ribbons on every conceivable product has much more to do with raising awareness of, and money for, the Komen Foundation than it does curing breast cancer; pink ribbon campaigns are commonly used on products that may contribute to cancer, such as fried chicken and cosmetics that contain cancer-causing ingredients

It’s reported that the Komen Foundation owns stock in several pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, the maker of tamoxifen, a cancer drug that is actually classified as a human carcinogen by both the World Health Organization and the American Cancer Society.

In the case of many large cancer charities, your money will go toward research to create often-toxic and sometimes deadly cancer drugs, questionable screening programs like mammography, and into the bank accounts of its numerous well-paid executives — all while the real underlying causes continue to be ignored or actively concealed.”

Link to Full Article

The Emperor Has No Clothes

Guest Editorial: Gayle Sulik, M.A., Ph.D., author of Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health.

In the last few weeks Susan G. Komen for the Cure was exposed. We have watched and listened as journalists, health advocates, philanthropists, bloggers, affiliates, Komen supporters, and countless others have shined a light on the obvious: The Komen foundation – breast cancer charity turned nonprofit corporation – is a juggernaut in the fight against breast cancer.

In the past, many have overlooked the obvious. Blinded by pink. Fueled by hope. Engaged in an emotionally charged war against a disease that no one should have to bear alone. It all made sense somehow. Critiques of the world’s largest breast cancer charity were mostly hidden beneath a barrage of pinked propaganda. When anyone openly raised concerns they were met with accusation, hostility, and anger. Komen founder Nancy Brinker summarily dismissed as curmudgeons and naysayers those who would dare to confront the authority of pink.

Though marginalized to some extent people have been, for years, arguing for fundamental changes in Komen’s version of the breast cancer paradigm. KomenWatch includes many of the arguments and concerns in its archives dating back to the 1990s. The news articles, reports, and letters from breast cancer survivors and others reveal a persistent questioning of the powerhouse organization.

In 1995 Joelyn Flomenhaft wrote a letter to The New York Times editor saying that, although she had done so in the past, she would not be attending the Komen Race for the Cure because people were being told to write their years of survivorship on pink visers and badges. “Breast cancer survivors should have the right to choose to make their illness public,” she said, “not have their choice made for them by race organizers.” Her letter suggested that while some do feel empowered by sharing in this way, Komen’s expectations about how a person should display her survivorship may also exert undue pressure on the diagnosed. I’ve heard similar sentiments throughout my research of pink ribbon culture.

Investigations into Komen’s activities suggest that the growing aversion to the organization’s approach to breast cancer support and awareness may be more than simply a matter of personal taste. In 2003, with support from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, Mary Ann Swissler examined Komen’s corporate and political ties and their influence on the direction of the Foundation. Komen’s literature did not reveal the lobbying ties, stock interests, seats on boards of private cancer treatment corporations, or the political activism of its key leaders, including Nancy Brinker herself. Yet Komen’s “stock portfolios and cozy relationships with Republican leadership” not only set them apart, their ties to cancer-related industry affected the organization’s objectivity and credibility. Sharon Batt, author of Patient No More: The Politics of Breast Cancer, told Swissler how Komen rose above the rest of the breast cancer movement in terms of power and influence.

“For one thing, the Komen Foundation has had more money. For another they carry friendly, reassuring messages through the media and their own programs, a phenomenon I like to term the ‘Rosy Filter,’ meaning the public is spoon-fed through a pink-colored lens stories of women waging a heroic battle against the disease, or the newest ‘magic bullet.’ Yet little light is shed on insurance costs, the environmental causes of breast cancer, or conflicts of interest.”

In the years that followed Swissler’s exposé the Komen organization was taken to task repeatedly, though sporadically, about how its political affiliations, high media profile, bureaucratic structure, corporate partnerships, industry ties, and market-based logic had led to questionable decisions. Squeezing out competing fundraisers is one of them. When Komen decided to expand its 5-K race to a multi-day walk, it started in San Francisco where Avon already had a 2-day walk planned. When Komen came in, Avon’s funds plummeted. KomenWatch told me that since the inception of its website numerous individuals have reported in confidence that Komen organizers have “deliberate strategies of non-collaboration” that keep them from attracting support for their smaller and less extravagant community initiatives. Against this background, it may not be surprising that Komen’s branding initiatives also involve legal efforts to keep other charities and organizations from using “for the cure” in their names.

In 2004 Breast Cancer Action tried to raise the public’s awareness that no one even knew how much money was being raised and spent in the name of breast cancer as awareness gave way to industry. Now in 2012, Reuters reports that critics within the philanthropic and research communities have also raised questions about Komen’s scientific approach and funding allocations, and The Washington Post rightly points out that Komen is part of a larger breast cancer culture that emphasizes “optics over integrity, crass commercialism and the infantilization of the female experience into something fashionable, cheerful or sexy.”

Over the years there have been numerous critiques of the Komen foundation. In addition to the news articles and essays in the KomenWatch archives, several books written about breast cancer in the last decade also note Komen’s role in the creation of a narrowly defined and profitable pink ribbon industry. [See EhrenreichKasper & Ferguson, Kedrowski and Sarow, King, KlawiterLey, and my own book, Sulik.]

Komen’s recent decision to change granting criteria in a way that would preclude the women’s health network, Planned Parenthood, from applying for grants to offset the cost of providing screenings to low-income women, is the latest in a series of moves to prioritize Komen’s brand. Though the decision was reversed, KomenWatch is keeping eyes and ears open. The rest is up to you. As a medical sociologist, I’m glad to be part of this message. Kudos to KomenWatch.

/  Gayle Sulik

Nancy Brinker’s Lavish Spending, Off-Putting Brittleness Puts Komen’s Future in Jeopardy

Title: Nancy Brinker’s Lavish Spending, Off-Putting Brittleness Puts Komen’s Future in Jeopardy

Author: Erin Gloria Ryan

Publication:  Jezebel

Date: February 13, 2012

In the last three weeks, the reputation of Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been threatened by a scandal that has uncovered some uncomfortable truths about the behind the scenes in the world of Professional Breast Cancer Awareness. Although the organization has given the media the “move along, nothing to see here” speech, it appears that Komen CEO Nancy Brinker’s lavish spending is worthy of scrutiny. Plus, apparently she’s really weird to work for.

According to The Daily Beast‘s Abigail Pesta, between June 2007 and January 2009, when Brinker was employed full-time with the US State Department during the Bush administration, she billed Komen for $133,507 in expenses…

Link to Full Article

Muckety Listing: Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Title: Muckety Listing: Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Author: Muckety

Publication: Muckety

Publication Date: Accessed April 4,  2011

Welcome to the place for tracking people and organizations with power and influence!

Muckety is an award-winning web site and information/technology company, honored for outstanding use of digital technologies. We publish maps and related news stories, and we provide mapping technology and data to other companies.

How are we different?

Unlike most social networking sites, our data is not user contributed. This may seem contrary to the overall trend of online databases, and it is.

We specialize in the paths of influence – encompassing government, business and nonprofit affiliations. But we also show connections users might omit from their own public profiles, including family members, political involvement, lobbying activity and criminal charges.

Muckety Listings for:

My View of Breast Cancer According to Brinker

Title: My View of Breast Cancer According to Brinker

Author: Anna Rachnel

Publication:  The Cancer Culture Chronicles

Publication Date: February 25, 2011

Whenever I set about writing a blog post, I have in mind that I will try to be as objective as possible, particularly if I am discussing a subject that I know to be contentious.  The trouble is, it’s getting harder and harder for me to  be fully objective when I am discussing issues related to breast cancer fundraising and research.  After all, as a person living with Stage IV breast cancer,  research is tantamount to my hopes for recovery and a long life.

Today’s post is a prime example.  Recently a reader sent me a link to a televised interview between Tavis Smiley of PBS and  Nancy Brinker, the CEO and founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.  The interview aired on October 1, 2010 to mark the start of Breast Cancer Awareness month, and to promote the launch of Brinker’s book,  Promise Me: How a Sister’s Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer.

Click here for a link to the interview and a full transcript.

I started watching the full 13-minute interview with an open mind.  But as I continued to watch the interplay between Brinker and Smiley it dawned on me that my goal of remaining objective was going to be an impossible task.   I run my fingers through my newly short hairdo and am reminded that soon there will be no hair  to run my fingers through. As I write down notes during the interview,  I realize how difficult it is becoming for me to write with a pen.  Tumors are now pressing on vital nerves,  and my writing arm is rapidly losing strength, and certain fingers are numb.  Writing by hand has become a laborious task with the end result looking like something akin to chicken scratchings.  In addition, I’m so tired from my new chemotherapy regimen that concentrating for any length of time seems a monumental feat.  Finding the energy to blog is getting harder.  I’m sure chemo-brain is becoming a factor as well as I struggle to  find and, indeed, spell common words as I construct my sentences.  Yes, objectivity was being replaced with the difficult realities of metastatic breast cancer and treatment.

Link to Full Article

Think About Pink: Letters

Title: Think About Pink: Letters

Author: Various

Publication: New York Times

Publication Date: November 26, 2010

We read with concern Peggy Orenstein’s opinions about breast-cancer-awareness tactics and believe that another point of view must be considered. Orenstein’s ridicule of the impact of the pink ribbon is offensive to the millions who wear it proudly and who participate in raising awareness and much-needed funds for research, in a world where more than 450,000 people still die from breast cancer every year. The pink ribbon is a worldwide symbol, promoting awareness and galvanizing support from individuals and businesses, large and small. Their generosity has allowed our organization to devote $1.5 billion to research, education, detection, treatment and support programs.

The enemy in this fight is not a color or a ribbon; it is a disease that too often leads to suffering and death, and against which we still need major advances.

Founder and C.E.O.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Chairman, Susan G. Komen Scientific Advisory Board

Link to All Letters

Komen Opens DC Office (Abstract Only)


Title: People

Author/Byline: Gregg Sangillo and Sara Jerome

Publication:  National Journal

Publication Date: February 20, 2010

Nancy Brinkerhas returned to the organization she founded many years ago. She is now chief executive officer of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a group dedicated to defeating breast cancer and named for Brinker’s sister, who died of the disease in 1980 at age 36. Brinker formed the organization in 1982 after promising her sister that she would give her all to fighting breast cancer.

Of her return, Brinker says, “When I said that I would do everything that I could to help honor her promise, I didn’t mean it to be just for whatever time it took to get the first part of it done, or the second part of it done. But I wanted to do everything I could to eradicate this disease.” Komen for the Cure, which has been battling state budget cuts that it says could reduce women’s access to mammography and other health services, recently opened a D.C. office.

Last August,President Obamaawarded Brinker the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor, for her crusade against breast cancer. When the White House called to tell her about it, she says, “I dropped the phone and started crying.”

Brinker was chief of protocol in theGeorge W. BushState Department from 2007 to early 2009. Before that, she was U.S. ambassador to Hungary. Brinker left her ambassadorial post early to be closer to her dying father, but when she returned to the States, she was offered the U.S. protocol job. She was torn, but “[my father] said to me, ‘When your country calls on you, and your president asks you to do something, you do it, no matter what. There’s never a good time.’ ”

A native of Peoria, Ill., Brinker, who declined to give her age, graduated from the University of Illinois in the late 1960s, then moved to Dallas to enter the executive training program at Neiman Marcus. She was married to the lateNorman Brinker, a restaurant entrepreneur who ran Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and other restaurants.Eric Brinker, her son from a previous marriage, is a businessman and serves on Susan G. Komen’s board of directors.

As a veteran of the breast cancer awareness movement, Brinker says, “There’s a whole lot of issues and barriers in the way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not simple. But if I didn’t see the enormous part that Susan G. Komen has played [in raising awareness], I wouldn’t feel nearly as hopeful. But I know what we’ve done, and I know where we’re going.”–Gregg Sangillo


Susan G. Komen for the Cure Adds Eric Brinker to Its Board (Abstract Only)


Title: Susan G. Komen for the Cure Adds Eric Brinker to Its Board

Author: Unknown

Publication: Health & Beauty Close-Up

Publication Date: January 21, 2010

Eric Brinker, a longtime breast cancer volunteer, co-survivor and activist, has been elected to the board of directors of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer organization.

Eric Brinker is the son of Komen for the Cure founder and CEO Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, and the nephew of Susan G. Komen, for whom the organization is named. He is filling the board seat left vacant by the 2009 death of his father, Norman Brinker, who had served on Komen’s board since it formed in 1982. Although Norman Brinker held a lifetime board appointment, Eric was elected to serve the typical two-year term.

Brinker is often described as Komen’s first volunteer, growing up helping to fulfill the promise that Nancy Brinker made to her sister, Susan G. Komen, to end breast cancer forever. Susan G. Komen died of breast cancer in 1980.

Several years later, at the age of eight, Brinker lived through his mother’s own battle with breast cancer, learning first-hand what it means to be a co-survivor.

“We are so fortunate on the board to have Eric’s business acumen, his long association with our organization, and his first-hand experience with this disease — an experience that fuels his untiring energy and passion for our cause,” said Alexine Clement Jackson, chairperson of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s board of directors.


Hot Button

Title: Hot Button

Author: Amanda Carpenter

Publication: Washington Times

Publication Date: December 16, 2009

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent, says liberals upset with his opposition to key provisions of Democratic health care plans are unfairly targeting his wife, Hadassah, and her job with a foundation that raises money for breast cancer research.

But the liberal blogger leading a campaign to have Mrs. Lieberman dismissed from her post as a paid “global ambassador” for Susan G. Komen for the Cure dismisses Mr. Lieberman’s anger as his “theatrical brand of outrage.”

Link to Full Article

White House to Award Nation’s Highest Civilian Honor to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Founder Nancy G. Brinker (Abstract Only)


Title: White House to Award Nation’s Highest Civilian Honor to Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Founder Nancy G. Brinker

Author: Unknown

Publication: Business Wire

Publication Date: July 30, 2009

Ambassador Nancy Goodman Brinker, whose promise to her dying sister launched Susan G. Komen for the Cure® and the worldwide breast cancer movement, was nominated for the highest civilian honor in the United States – the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced today.

Brinker, founder of the world’s leading breast cancer organization and a Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control of the World Health Organization, will receive the Medal from President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony Aug. 12.

She is being honored for her leadership in building Susan G. Komen for the Cure into a global force for change for people with breast cancer, leading the way in breast cancer research, advocacy, education and outreach. With her vision, Dallas-based Komen for the Cure has grown from a group of friends in a living room to an organization with more than 120 domestic and global Affiliates, more than 1.5 million advocates and a presence in more than 50 countries.

“To say that I am honored, humbled and exhilarated is a vast understatement,” Brinker said. “I will be pleased to accept this honor in my sister’s memory, and on behalf of the millions of women and men who have walked side-by-side with us over many years to end the suffering and misery from this disease.”