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In this Feb. 7 file photo, a small group of women protest outside the Susan G. Komen for the Cure headquarters in Dallas. Several high-ranking executives with Susan G. Komen for the Cure have resigned in the aftermath of Komen's decision earlier this year to eliminate most of its funding for Planned Parenthood. Although some of the officials cited personal reasons, the resignations suggest the breast cancer charity is still in turmoil, even after restoring the money. Story here. (AP Photo/Rex C. Curry, File)
Question: Has the controversy involving Planned Parenthood changed your giving plans for Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund-raising activities?
Once word — and strong opinions — spread last week about the Susan G. Komen foundation nearly cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, Coeur d'Alene Race for the Cure volunteer Cara Kendrick stopped wearing the pink apparel she pulls on nearly every day, accumulated from years of events. Not because she stopped believing in the breast cancer organization, she said. "I just didn't want to deal with people asking me questions," said Kendrick, who has raised more than $100,000 for the organization's efforts with her team at three-day, 60-mile walk events. "It was hard. Almost everything I have is pink." But on Monday, she was back in her customary color, with the ribbon brandished for all to see. What are politics and rumors, she said, compared to tangible dollars that have been raised to quell the effects of a broad-reaching disease?/Alecia Warren, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (SR file photo for illustrative purposes: A three-year breast cancer survivor gives thumbs up at 2011 Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure)
After three days of controversy, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity says it is reversing its decision to cut breast-screening grants to Planned Parenthood. "We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women's lives," a Komen statement said. As first reported by The Associated Press on Tuesday, Komen had adopted criteria excluding Planned Parenthood from grants because it was under government investigation, notably a probe launched in Congress at the urging of anti-abortion groups. Komen said Friday it would change the criteria so it wouldn't apply to such investigations/Associated Press. More here. (AP file photo of Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure)
Each October I honor my grandmother, a breast cancer survivor, by re-posting this 2006 column. She was, and will always be, an inspiration and a guiding force in my life. CAM
The Home Planet: Community potent weapon against breast cancer
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. I’m sure you’ve noticed – next to the orange and black Halloween and harvest decorations – the pink ribbons, pink tools, pink kitchen gadgets, all being sold guaranteeing part of the profit will go to work for a cure for breast cancer.
Thanks to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, pink is the other color of October.
Now pink is the signature color of breast cancer awareness, the color of breast cancer research and, for some, the color of hope and success.
Pink is also the color of community. And that might just be one of the most powerful weapon in the arsenal against breast cancer
When I was a small child I went with my younger sister and infant brother to live with my grandparents. Our young mother was simply unable to care for us.
Two years later, in 1963, my grandmother – a woman who had just turned 50 – found a lump in her breast. After her surgery, the surgeon walked into the waiting room, put his hand on my grandfather’s shoulder and gave him the bad news. It was cancer. And it was very serious. She might not make it.
Both of my grandmother’s breasts were removed and she started her treatment. I don’t really know what was done to fight her cancer, beyond the surgery and radiation treatments, but I know she lost her hair.
During this time my brother, sister and I were aware that our grandmother was ill; I have a vague memory of her being in the hospital, of my grandfather brushing my hair, something my grandmother usually did. I remember the strangeness of finding him in the kitchen cooking hot cereal. I remember her wearing a wig.
We knew she was sick but the seriousness of her illness was never mentioned. You just didn’t talk about that kind of thing. Especially with children.
As soon as she was well enough, my grandfather went back to work and so did she. She went back to keeping house, to cooking all of our meals and caring for three young children. Back to raising a second family.
Although, when we got older, we were told that my grandmother had had breast cancer, the full impact of what she had been through didn’t hit me until much later. Until the pink campaign.
In 1990, at the first Komen National Race for the Cure in Washington, D.C., pink ribbons were worn to signify status as a breast cancer survivor. The little badge took off and became a universal symbol. The simple pink ribbons worn that day have evolved into a potent marketing tool.
Now October has gone pink. I’ll admit that when I see pink kitchen mixers, pink umbrellas and pink vacuum cleaners, each promising to donate a portion of the profits from each sale to breast cancer research, I am vaguely irritated by all the hype. Enough already, I think. I get it.
But then I think about the monumental effort behind the campaign, and the work that has been done because of it, and I think about the world my grandmother lived in and changes that have come about. There’s a lot of power in that pink.
Just 40 years ago, we didn’t talk about cancer. You especially didn’t talk about breast cancer. Women like my grandmother had no choice but to soldier on taking care of homes and families, keeping what they endured to themselves, without the benefit of therapy or counseling. There were no support groups.
My grandmother was a relatively young woman to be raising grandchildren. She didn’t have a large circle of friends. She didn’t go to clubs or meetings. She didn’t meet other mothers for lunch downtown. She didn’t even drive. She was a true stay-at-home caregiver.
She battled cancer and the permanent effects of that battle, with only my grandfather to hold her hand. And she beat the odds. Despite a poor prognosis, she lived 20 years after her surgery before the disease reappeared. But what she didn’t have access to when she was so sick, and what I have to think would have been good medicine, was the support that only other fighters and survivors can offer.
She had sympathy but no empathy. She had no one to go to and complain, or cry, or shake her fist and scream about the pain and unfairness of what had happened to her.
That is a tool that, if today I was to find myself in her place, I would reach for immediately.
The scars after my grandmother’s surgery were disfiguring. But as I get older I wonder about the scars that were hidden. The scars no one ever saw.
There were no stitches or soothing salves for those wounds. She was left to care for them on her own.
The advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer; the advances in the search for a cause and a cure since my grandmother’s illness in 1963, have been huge.
Now, there are television commercials and magazine ads urging women to get mammograms and to make a pledge to remind one another to do regular breast self-exams.
Now, if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer there is a community for her.
The disease is no longer shuttered and closeted. When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer she doesn’t just have the benefit of science and medicine behind her. She has the benefit of a corporate identity; a network of support groups, literature, advocacy and caring. That community is a big advance.
October only lasts 31 days, but the power of pink can last a lifetime.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review and is a contributing editor at Spokane Metro Magazine. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com
Doves are released during the Survivor Tribute at the 20th annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure Orange County on Sunday in Irvine, Calif. Over 25,000 participated in the Newport Beach event. (AP Photo/Orange County Register, Michael Goulding)
The seriousness of the cause is balanced with humor, hope and courage each year at the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Coeur d'Alene. And there is always lots of pink. The 12th annual event, held Sunday on the campus of North Idaho College, was no different. Along with the customary pink T-shirts, balloons, ribbons and flowers, there were kids with pink mohawks, toddlers with pink cowboy boots, grandmas with pink sunglasses - even an English mastiff wearing a hot pink tutu. "It's great to see the spirit that's out there," said Tiffany Moe, this year's race chair. "I'm happy we had the turnout we did." The 5K fun run and 1-mile walk, a fundraiser to support breast cancer patients and survivors and breast cancer research, attracted 2,300 registrants this year/Maureen Dolan, CdA Press. More here.
Question: Have you or a loved one suffered from breast cancer?