Keeping our eyes and ears open…..

Category Archives: Survivor Perspectives

Detailing the problems of ‘breast cancer culture’

Title: Detailing the problems of ‘breast cancer culture’

Author: Anna Holmes

Publication: The Washington Post

Publication Date: February 09, 2012

…Although the mainstreaming of breast cancer activism and awareness is a triumph of marketing and outreach, its ubiquity has come at a cost – or depending on your point of a view, a profit – in the form of hundreds if not thousands of new or retooled consumer products. Cars, makeup, vacuum cleaners, stuffed animals, NFL and MLB apparel . . . all these and more have, at one point or another over the past few decades, been slapped with a fresh coat of (pink) paint and the imprimatur of any number of breast cancer charities, including Komen and the other behemoth in the breast cancer space, the Avon Foundation…

pink ribbons, pink ribboned-consumer goods and associated runs, walks and jumps “for the cure” have become so commonplace and therefore benign that we hardly notice them; we’re anesthetized to this major killer of women to the point that it’s almost accepted as a rite of passage, not a profoundly painful experience. The color has been promoted as fashionable, a shorthand for a sort of optimism and positivity – what [Samantha] King calls the “tyranny of cheerfulness” – that threatens to obscure much of the justifiable grief, frustration and fear that accompany the epidemic, not to mention the hypocrisies of the companies who benefit from it…

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Susan G. Komen for the Cure® – No More Apologies!

Title:  Susan G. Komen for the Cure® – No More Apologies!

Author: Nancy Stordahl

Publication:  Nancy’s Point blog

Publication Date: August 12, 2011

There has been a lot of discussion recently in the blogosphere about Susan G. Komen for the Cure®. I believe the rumblings are starting to be heard. Now the question is will Komen begin to listen? Like I’ve always told my students, there is a huge difference between hearing and listening.

For the record, Komen describes itself as,

—the world’s largest and most progressive grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists – the only grassroots organization fighting to cure breast cancer at every stage, from the causes to the cures and the pain and anxiety of every moment in between.

Komen’s stated mission is:

to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures.

Like many bloggers, I’ve been thinking about this organization of late and how it seems to have failed in the above stated mission.

But this particular post isn’t really about that success or failure.

Mostly, what I want to address today is why I have felt so uncomfortable criticizing Komen in the past.

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Komen’s pink ribbons raise green, and questions

Title: Komen’s pink ribbons raise green, and questions

Author: Liz Szabo

Publication: USA Today

Publication Date: July 18, 2011

Supporters of Susan G. Komen for the Cure are used to seeing the group’s founder, Nancy Brinker, at fundraisers such as Race for the Cure.

But some breast cancer survivors said they were surprised to see Brinker recently on the Home Shopping Network selling perfume. The new fragrance, called Promise Me, comes in a rose-colored bottle with Komen’s trademarked pink ribbon, and its manufacturer has pledged to donate at least $1 million to the charity. The perfume is the latest in a long line of products bearing Komen’s pink ribbon, from kitchen mixers to gardening gloves, that have helped the group raise $1.9 billion for breast cancer causes.

And though some of Komen’s marketing partners have become the butt of jokes (KFC’s pink “Buckets for the Cure” was even satirized on The Colbert Report last year), none of these pink-ribboned products has angered as many breast cancer survivors as the new fragrance.

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Enter the Komen Bandits — Racing With A Message for BC Mets

Title: Enter the Komen Bandits — Racing With A Message for BC Mets

Author: Gayle Sulik

Publication: Pink Ribbon Blues blog

Publication Date: June 4, 2011

This weekend marks the 22nd annual Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure® 5K at the National Mall in Washington, DC. Nearly 40,000 people participated and the event raised more than $5 million. Reports of the race festivities are awash with celebrity, festivity, performance, and unbridled enthusiasm.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s founder, Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, “charged up the crowd, noting that the sea of pink making their way up the National Mall was a bold statement by this community that we will not rest until our promise to end breast cancer forever is fulfilled.” She went on to say that, “If my sister Suzy were here today, she would take joy in the inspiration you provide. She’d take pride that in a politically divided city, there is unity on this issue. She’d take comfort in the fact that hopes are high, and that a cure is near.”

SGK social media was all a twitter with live feeds from the race revealing a mood that was triumphant, proud, and promising while solidifying the message that Komen is responsible for progress.

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Komen Has Crossed The Line

Title: Komen Has Crossed The Line

Author: Chemobabe

Publication: Chemobabe blog

Publication Date: May 28, 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?

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Survivors ask if too much pink hurts cause (Abstract Only)


Title: Survivors ask if too much pink hurts cause

Author/Byline: Scripps Howard Newspapers

Publication: The Augusta Chronicle (Georgia)

Publication Date: October 31, 2008

Gail Lemberger noticed a colorful trend while browsing through Sunday advertisements.

There were pink blenders, pink iPods, pink tools, pink vacuums. There were even pink coupons to purchase pink food items.

During October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the pink-tinged campaigns turned out in force. But with so many companies now promoting the cause, there is a concern that pink fatigue is settling in.

“I definitely would say it is oversaturated as far as products that are pink,” said Ms. Lemberger, 49, a breast cancer survivor from Camarillo. “We definitely need to spread awareness, but I don’t really think there is a need for that much pink stuff.”

Like Ms. Lemberger, many patients and survivors have mixed emotions about pink campaigns. They want to promote awareness and raise money for the cause, but they worry about the potential for overkill and exploitation.

Because the pink ribbon associated with breast cancer awareness is not trademarked or copyrighted, any company can place it on a product, which means proceeds from the sale may or may not benefit breast cancer. It could be used just to promote awareness.


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Helping female athletes (Abstract Only)


Title: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Helping female athletes


Publication: The Oregonian (Portland, Oregon)

Publication Date: August 18, 2007

Komen’s sour note

I am deeply offended that the Komen Foundation has chosen Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, to hold its annual survivor celebration luncheon on Sept. 22. As a Jew and a breast cancer survivor, I’ve always felt honored to attend this luncheon which has given me inspiration in my battle against this deadly disease –particularly when the lights in the Oregon Convention Center are dimmed and I’ve held a lit candle representing life.


Race for the Cure

Title: Race for the Cure

Author: Joelyn Flomenhaft

Publication: New York Times

Publication Date: September 14, 1995

To the Editor:

As the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s Race for the Cure approaches on Sunday, Sept. 17, I could not be more supportive of trying to raise money and awareness for this terrible life-threatening disease.

Having participated in this event for a number of years partly because someone close to me had this illness, I am sorry to say I will not be a participant this year.

This is because survivors who have registered for the race are given pink visors and race badges to wear and are encouraged to display the number of years as a survivor.

Breast cancer survivors who share their experiences and courage with others are to be commended.

However, breast cancer survivors should have the right to choose to make their illness public and not have their choice made for them by race organizers.

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