Thursday, October 20, 2011

A moderately sized rant about selling out

To backtrack a little bit as a preface: A year ago I read an article about how the Susan G. Komen Foundation had lost their moral compass and was selling out, as a corporation and a "brand" to forward its message, at the expense of women with cancer.
That stuck with me and I have been a bit leery about all the pinkness surrounding breast cancer ever since...

About six weeks ago I was on FaceBook at 1:00 a.m. when traffic is very light, and happened across a conversation about the Komen Foundation's president (Susan G. Komen's sister, who started it) being on the Home Shopping Network (???) hawking the latest "pink" product, a perfume.
The women having this conversation are the heavy hitters when it comes to survival & breast cancer, women who have been in treatment (chemo, radiation, surgery, rinse and repeat) for FIVE YEARS, and were just now able to have their reconstructions done.
They were beyond livid for a number of reasons.
Their first outrage was as chemo survivors, they talked about your taste (everything tastes like metal at one point) and smell (*everything* is foul-smelling, even the most innocuous of scents) are so profoundly compromised, that it felt like a personal insult to be selling perfume, ostensibly on their behalf.
Secondly, one woman did the due diligence and found out that though the perfume was selling for $57.00 a bottle, only $1.11 of that went toward research.
Less than two percent.

The hostess of the conversation said "Why don't we rename the perfume. Any suggestions?
In fifteen minutes over thirty "new names" had been suggested.
I think that for me five years ago, and for most people, it would have been absolutely meaningless, but during 2007 I nursed my fiance from diagnosis unto death, through chemo, hospitalizations, drugs for side effects, radiation, drugs for side effects, surgery and CyberKnife (a super duper radiation treatment) and in reading their conversation, all of those names of drugs and treatments came flooding back in.
I was practically rolling on the floor laughing as these women riffed on all of these names, tweaking them slightly to "rename" the perfume, and I realized "Holy crap. I'm on the inside track of cancer humor!"

I immediately friended the hostess and a number of her friends, as well.
It has been a great gift, and very humbling, to follow their ups and downs, their surgeries, reoccurances, and always their fierce, in your face, take no prisoners and offer up no apologies approaches to staying alive and thriving, with each others' support, even when they are flat on their backs.
Though my journey with cancer is like a mild cold in comparison, I am proud to be in a tribe with such strong and brilliant beings.

So. With October being "Breast Cancer Awareness" month I have been much more attuned to the conversations from withinh the breast cancer community, which oddly (or not) are never heard by the greater collective.
Most breast cancer survivors are conflicted, as the Komen Foundation has, indeed, done great things for women in treatment and for awareness regarding screening.
That said, screening only goes so far. Why are the dollars not going toward research regarding metastatic breast cancer??
That is, after all, what kills.
Why is the Komen Foundation plainly putting its corporate attention on furthering its "brand recognition" rather than on the true elimination of not only the disease(s) of breast cancer, but on education regarding *prevention* of breast cancer??
It's not all just self exams & mammograms.
It's nutrition, exercise, and from my perspective (though a corporation would never go public with this) regular detoxification, and non-exposure to estrogenic (read breast cancer enhancing substances) in false scents (including perfumes!!), plastics, BPA etc.

And, (after all this) the real thrust of my post today: the commercialization and sexualization of breast cancer.
Hard to conceive of, perhaps, but more and more prevalent.
Take a detour and go over to and read the Oct. 17, 2011 post.

Those pictures, posters, T-shirts are an outrage.
What do images of perky, perfect breasts a la Victoria's Secret have to do with the reality of breast cancer?
It is not, not, NOT "all about the boobies"!
It is all about my life and the lives of tens of thousands of women each year.
With or without "boobies" and/or with "boobies" that aren't going to go in some fantasy.

You want to know the real deal?

Breast cancer is not perky women lookin' hot at the camera.
It is exhaustion and puking, being irradiated (think a contrlled Hiroshima) and scarred.
I got off light, in the scheme of things, but because of this recent round of cellulitis, and the attendant scarring to the expander, I may or, very probably, may not have a "normal looking" breast at the end of the day.
I don't give a tinker's damn about that, either.
If you'll remember, at the beginning of this road, I was prepared to live with a flat expanse of skin, so whatever it ends up being: smaller, curled & dimpled, oddly colored, whatever, I give the hand under my chin gesture to any unexamined idea or advertising campaign by Komen that this body is any way "less than" the bodies of their models.

Not that I ever have, but I will never buy pink candy, pink ribbon dog treats, pink ribbon garbage bags or pink anything else. Ever.
Because until they get serious about metastatic breast cancer research and breast cancer prevention they are shilling the public, and misrepresenting the survivors.
And I go on the record as such.


Crystal said...

Right on! The campaign is exploitive and desensitizes the public to the seriousness of the issue. Good for you for speaking up and doing so with the facts to support you!

stella said...

I agree wholeheartedly. It becomes impossible to buy into big business and that is often how charitable organizations are ultimately run. The systems of modernity do not work. The real action needs to come from sharing of information by individuals and the collective response to unfiltered data. Rage on!!

mrs mediocrity said...

I have had similar thoughts this month, that pink is everywhere, even football players are wearing it. I'm sure they mean well, are trying to show support, but after a while it all seems so affected, so commercial, so much a way of promoting their image.
What is that saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions"? Is that it? This, especially with the perfume thing, makes me think of that.