Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Please Don't Feed the Cancer Curebies

I understand that lots of folks are angry to hear that the Susan G. Komen Foundation has decided to halt grants to Planned Parenthood. As a woman with cancer, I'm actually pretty glad to hear it. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate
the outrage that many people feel. However, I'd like to explain a few things.

This has been in the works for a long time and isn't a surprise to many of us in the disability advocacy community. Many of us noticed a few years ago that, in several states, the Walks for a Cure were starting to be infiltrated by anti-reproductive justice advocates who were using it as a platform to spread the myth about abortion and breast cancer. There are several reasons why this has been effective.

A lot of it has to do with just who still supports the Walk for a Cure. The Walks are not really for people with cancer. They are for people to feel like they are supporting people with cancer, while ignoring our needs.

Ultimately, the Komen foundation is another curebie organization. Curebies DO NOT serve the interests of those with the condition. They are nothing more than panaceas for privileged people and privileged societies.
What if all of those folks who go the Walks took the time to spend a day visiting their Congress members? What if people took the money they donated to the Komen curebies and hired an office full of professional lobbyists to help persuade members of Congress to vote for universal health care? An even better question is why DOESN'T the Komen foundation lobby for universal health care? Universal health care would save more lives than these organizations have.

I used to be in academia and I was even a research assistant in a couple of top tier universities. I've experienced what it's like to be a cancer researcher, a test subject in other cancer research trials, and a recipient of cutting edge treatment for cancer.

There's a few things that I've learned through these experiences. The most significant of these is the reality that there is no reason to believe that cancer will ever be cured. It can sometimes be functionally eliminated from an individual, but that's not a cure. A cure rids the cause of the disease. The reality is that cancer is too multi-faceted for there to ever be something that cures it. Cancer is as natural as having five fingers on each hand. We could cut off a finger, but it won't stop folks from growing five fingers at some point in their development. The same is true with cancer. Any honest researcher will tell you that the most we can ever expect to achieve is better treatments for cancer.

Cancer isn't one disease. It's hundreds of diseases. Each of those diseases have their own triggers, exacerbating factors, and prognoses. To cure cancer, you'd need HUNDREDS of cures. You could walk until your legs fell off and donate your entire life's savings and you won't have done a single thing to cure cancer.

Now, if patients know that and researchers know that, would it be reasonable to believe that the Komen foundation doesn't know that? I don't think so. So *why* are they always pretending that supporting them will help make a cure possible? Well, for one thing, it's pretty damn profitable to sell ideas. You don't have to produce anything and you can sell them for as long as you can find people who want to believe in what you're offering.

The Komen foundation has figured out that you can slap a pink ribbon on ANYTHING for sale and make some people believe they should prefer that product over other comparable brands.

At this point, almost all of the organizations that are supposedly dedicated to fighting breast cancer are simply money-generators that do nothing but line the pockets of those who run them. I don't know how to make it plainer than that. Komen has been a scam for a very long time. Anything that might interfere with its publicity is simply eliminated.

Please, please, please stop supporting these groups. I say that as a woman with incurable cancer. Nobody has more skin in the game than I do. These people and organizations are profiting off of the pain and suffering and death of people like me.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this fantastic post.

Daisy Deadhead said...

This post is all kinds of awesome!

When I heard that the head of the Komen foundation makes $450,000+ a year, I thought, WHOOOA. (and that salary comes FROM DONATIONS, too.)
So, I went on a 14 mile walkathon to help pay this rich Republican woman's salary? Now I feel like a damn fool. I still have the t-shirt!

Glad all this info is getting out there and finally coming to light.

Anonymous said...

By the way, do you mind if I put a link to this post in comments at Hoyden About Town?

Japheth said...

This is the absolute truth. It's pretty sick how much these orgs even think to be in business. Absolutely disgusting.

sanda aronson said...

I been thinking for a long time that the sensible thing is for governments to fund and do research for treatments. The government does all kinds of drug research and then gives it away to drug companies who make enormous profits. Orphan diseases is a whole other topic and one I'm familiar with, having CFS/ME.
Your blog entry makes me think.

bint alshamsa said...

Jo, of course you can link to it. :D