Keeping our eyes and ears open…..

Category Archives: 2006-2010

Komen ‘For the Cure’ Trademark Protection Ignites Ire of Some Breast Cancer Bloggers

Title: Komen ‘For the Cure’ Trademark Protection Ignites Ire of Some Breast Cancer Bloggers

Author: Eric T. Rosenthal

Publication: Oncology Times

Publication Date: December 31, 2010

“It isn’t always easy being perceived as the 800-pound gorilla or Goliath in the world of breast cancer advocacy, especially when that position can make for a very large and vulnerable target for criticism from the blogging Davids out there with virtual slingshots.

Early in December, just as the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium was getting under way, The Huffington Post published an article charging that Susan G. Komen for the Cure was “elbowing out” other charities and events over use of the word “cure.”

The author, Laura Bassett, wrote that “in addition to raising millions of dollars a year for breast cancer research, fundraising giant Susan G. Komen for the Cure has a lesser-known mission that eats up donor funds: patrolling the waters for any use by such organizations that use any variation of ‘for the cure’ in their names.”

Link to Full Article

The Battle “for the Cure” – The Phrase, That is

Title: The Battle “for the Cure” – The Phrase, That is

Author: Gayle Sulik

Publication: Oxford University Press blog

Publication Date: December 20, 2010

“Laura Bassett wrote a scathing essay in Huffington Post about Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s legal dealings to win control over the phrase “for the cure.” According to Bassett, “Komen has identified and filed legal trademark oppositions against more than a hundred…charities, including Kites for a Cure, Par for The Cure, Surfing for a Cure and Cupcakes for a Cure – and many of the organizations are too small and underfunded to hold their ground.”

Why would the largest, best funded, most visible breast cancer organization put so much energy (and allegedly a million dollars per year) into trademarking common language like “for the cure”? Answer: To control the breast cancer brand. Indeed the cause of breast cancer has transformed from an important social issue to a brand name with a pink ribbon logo. The brand virtually guarantees consumption, revenues, advertising, and heightened visibility. Dominating the breast cancer brand would solidify the organization’s position in pink ribbon culture and in the marketplace it feeds.”

Link to Full Article

Lawsuits for the Cure

Title: Lawsuits for the Cure

Author: Alicia Staley

Publication:  wegoHealth

Publication Date: December 8, 2010

As a breast cancer survivor, nothing’s more infuriating than reading a story on how the Susan G. Komen Foundation actively pursues lawsuits against smaller foundations and individuals using the term “for the cure” in events or promotional materials. “Kites for the Cure”. “Dancing for the Cure,” “Dog Parade for the Cure.” Komen’s got them on their radar. Honestly, don’t we ALL have better things to do… like find a CURE for cancer instead of chasing after small time charities?

Link to Full Article

The Problem With Pink-Ribbon Drives (Abstract Only)


Title: The Problem With Pink-Ribbon Drives

Author/Byline:  Caroline Bermudez

Publication: Chronicle of Philanthropy

Publication Date: November 28, 2010

A medical sociologist says that pink-ribbon drives to promote attention to breast cancer are not effective in combating the disease.

Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health

By Gayle A. Sulik

Gayle A. Sulik, a medical sociologist, says that pink-ribbon drives to promote attention to breast cancer are not effective in combating the disease, but instead divert attention way from the fact that the ailment is a public-health concern.

Based on eight years of observations, analysis of breast-cancer advertisements and awareness campaigns, and interviews with hundreds of breast-cancer experts, Ms. Sulik concludes that for all the coverage breast cancer receives, a cure still remains elusive and jumps in survival rates have been modest at best.

She is particularly critical of the charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which organizes walks and races that draw thousands of participants.


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

Think About Pink

Title: Think About Pink

Author: Peggy Orenstein

Publication: New York Times

Publication Date: November 12, 2010

[I]t’s hard to remember that, not so long ago, the phrase “breast cancer” was not something women spoke aloud, even among themselves. It wasn’t until the early 1970s, with the high-profile diagnoses of the former child star Shirley Temple Black, the first lady Betty Ford and Happy Rockefeller that the disease went public. A short time later, Betty Rollin, an NBC-TV correspondent, published the groundbreaking memoir “First You Cry.” Back then, her grief over losing her breast and the blow cancer dealt to her sex life was greeted with hostility by some critics and dismissed as frivolous. Mammography was just coming into use to detect early-stage tumors. The American Cancer Society was still resisting the idea of support groups for post-mastectomy patients. A woman like Rollin, some said, was supposed to be grateful that she qualified for a radical mastectomy, stuff a sock in her bra and get on with it.

Fast-forward to today, when, especially during October, everything from toilet paper to buckets of fried chicken to the chin straps of N.F.L. players look as if they have been steeped in Pepto. If the goal was “awareness,” that has surely been met — largely, you could argue, because corporations recognized that with virtually no effort (and often minimal monetary contribution), going pink made them a lot of green.

Link to Full Article


Candidates: Support breast cancer research to get our vote

Title: Candidates: Support breast cancer research to get our vote

Author: Open Letter from Mary Boyd, Gloria Scienski and Neel Stallings, all of the Komen Advocacy Alliance

Publication: Charlotte Observer

Publication Date: October 28, 2010

Between today and Election Day, close to 3,000 women, and a few men, will be diagnosed with breast cancer across the United States. Tumors don’t care what party you belong to.

In North Carolina last year, an estimated 5,470 women heard the words “You have invasive breast cancer,” and 1,310 died of the disease.

We know you recognize the Komen name. Since 1982, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has meant increasing awareness and detection of breast cancer and funding research for its cures. The organization’s promise is to save lives and end breast cancer forever. Komen thinks big.

The five Komen Affiliates that serve North Carolina invested $5.4 million in their local communities last year for early detection and treatment of breast cancer, breast health education and outreach. Since 1990, Komen has awarded more than $17 million in research grants in North Carolina to Duke University, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, University of North Carolina and Wake Forest University.

Stepping up the lobbying

Now you need to learn the name “Komen Advocacy Alliance.” We’re not new to the political scene, but we’re getting more visible. Our goal is to translate Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s promise into action at all levels of government to discover and deliver the cures. Many Alliance members are survivors, as the writers of this letter are, and we mind our manners but never lose sight of our mission.

Link to Full Article

Merchandise tie-ins to breast cancer awareness have some seeing red over all that pink

Title: Merchandise tie-ins to breast cancer awareness have some seeing red over all that pink

Author: Kim Horner

Publication: dallasnews.com

Publication Date: October 28, 2010

The pink rubber duckies may be cute. But can they really help cure breast cancer?

What about the pink buckets of fried chicken?

Or one of the most controversial breast cancer awareness products, a Smith & Wesson handgun with pink grips and an engraved pink ribbon?

“Where does it end?” said Gayle Sulik of Denton, author of Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health .

During “Pinktober,” as some call October’s breast cancer awareness month, everything from dental picks to NFL players’ cleats turns pink.

Sulik’s new book is part of a growing backlash against a movement that critics say has become more focused on making money than finding a cure.

Link to Full Article

Are we too conscious of breast cancer?

Title: Are we too conscious of breast cancer?

Author: H. Gilbert Welch

Publication: Charlotte Observer

Publication Date: October 25, 2010

I’m a physician who has had concerns about National Breast Cancer Awareness Month for years. They persist despite my wife’s breast cancer diagnosis a decade ago (she’s fine and shares my concerns).

I worry that the campaign has led women to be more fearful of breast cancer than they need be. The “1 in 8” or “1 in 9” statistic, in particular, serves as a poster child for how to exaggerate risk (both because it encompasses an entire lifetime and because it’s not the chance of dying, but of being diagnosed).

Equally troubling is the relentless promotion of screening mammography as the solution.

That the campaign’s principal founder is a manufacturer of breast cancer drugs doesn’t make me feel any better. Nor does the appearance of pink as a fall color in the National Football League.

Knowing my concerns, a reporter recently asked me, “What do you think women should be aware of?” Here’s my list:

Link to Full Article

Breast Cancer Tales: The Inspirational vs. the Actual

Title: Breast Cancer Tales: The Inspirational vs. the Actual

Author: Abigail Zuger

Publication: New York Times

Publication Date: October 25, 2010

Before penicillin came along, syphilis was known in medical circles as “the great mimicker,” a stealthy disease able to mangle the human body in virtually all known ways. “Know syphilis and you know medicine,” professors would tell their students.

Exactly the same thing might be said of breast cancer these days — but not in the same circles. Rather, it is the social scientists who get to contemplate the full panorama of human reaction to disease by studying the fallout from a single one: all the shades of anguish and anger, the posturing, the politics and the cartloads of wishful thinking, all wrapped up in a big pink ribbon.

Link to Full Article