As Komen's brand falters, some are calling on Brinker to lead

Support for Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been on the decline ever since it made the decision earlier this year (2012) to disqualify Planned Parenthood from applying for grants to offset the costs of breast cancer screenings and clinical exams for low-income women. Komen reversed the decision after three days of public outrage, but the organization continues to be under scrutiny.

The Komen/Planned Parenthood ordeal revealed a darker side to the corporate nonprofit that many would-be supporters find objectionable. There have been calls for founder Nancy Brinker’s resignation, criticisms from the medical community about Komen’s misuse of scientific information, and ongoing concerns about the organization’s corporate partnerships, lack of transparency, advertising spin, and its downward trend in funding research despite what had been record revenues. There is no shortage of public outrage. However, the shuffling of top Komen officials and the hiring of a consulting firm to evaluate damage to Komen’s brand suggests to some that the charity may be ready for some self-reflection, at least to the point of mending its reputation.

Hoping that Komen will take this opportunity to learn and change, there is a new petition on Change.org offering the leadership some specifics on how to take bold and necessary steps forward. Will Komen listen?

Petitioning Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Susan G. Komen for the Cure: Increase funds for scientific research and increase transparency.

The American Cancer Society anticipates that the United States will see 226,870 new breast cancer diagnoses and 39,510 breast cancer deaths in 2012. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the single largest breast cancer charity in the world. With $439,451,449 in public support and revenue (FY 2011) and only $50,052,346 in funds dedicated to research and $181,092,283 in “public health education” it is time for greater accountability and transparency.


Ambassador Brinker,

As the largest breast cancer charity in the world your voice and your funding can change the face of breast cancer. Despite struggles in charting your course in this year, Komen has retained its place as the primary breast cancer “brand.” As October approaches, you have launched yet another marketing campaign invoking a sense of unity among survivors. However, the breast cancer community is fractured and frequently works at odds with one another. You, Ms. Brinker, are in a position to change that.

To do so, you must set aside petty differences and help unify us. If, as your recent ads claim, “we stand together” then we need all of the resources at hand, leveraged cooperatively, to finally find a cure to breast cancer. You can fulfill your promise to your sister in no other way. When we work at odds, we only delay reaching our goal. Over 100 people died today, another 100 will die tomorrow. How many more have to die before Susan G. Komen for the Cure dedicates every available dollar to save them?

  • FUND RESEARCH: As Susan G. Komen for the Cure, you have a moral obligation to direct funds to support a cure for breast cancer. While mammograms are important, we all know that they neither prevent nor cure cancer, ever. Research dollars are our only hope, and every dollar diverted translates to lives lost. Moreover, you can make a critical impact on the disease by adopting a 30-for-30 commitment to patients with metastatic disease: 30% of funding for 30% of those who have incurable Stage IV breast cancer.
  • TRANSPARANCY: Here’s just one example where you cultivate mistrust among donors and survivors: with the complexity of operations and budgets these days, it is easy to hide tens of thousands of dollars in overhead lines across a cross a charity’s budget. In your case it is millions. According to IRS documents, in FY 2010 your grant line accounts for approximately $75M. According to your own website, you issued multi-year grants totaling less than $51M. And that is just one budget line. It is time to clear away the smoke and mirrors, and institute a policy of transparency.
  • RESPONSIBLE PRODUCTS & PARTNERSHIPS: From your “Promise Me” perfume laden with banned carcinogens, to partnering with Kentucky Fried Chicken in the “Buckets for the Cure” campaign, you are perpetuating cancer and poor health. Restrict your partnerships and products to those that do no harm, and encourage other organizations and corporations to end damaging practices and improve dangerous products.

The best, most responsible leaders lead by example. As an organization in transition, you stand at a crossroads. As women and men with breast cancer, as the mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers, caregivers and friends who are also touched by this disease, we urge you now to stand up and lead. Choose to make a difference, choose to be part of the cure.

Respectfully,


Here are some of the reasons people have given for signing this petition.

  • People don’t die from early stage breast cancer, they die rom stage IV. At least 30% of early detected BC people advance to stage IV, plus 10% are initially diagnosed with stage IV so at least 30% if not 40 % of research funding should go to Advanced Breast Cancer research.
  • Breast Cancer Survivor. I actually have a team formed for this year’s walk in Central LA, but when I signed up I was unaware that so little is going towards research. I’m thinking of supporting another organization that gives more to research for my future fundraising efforts.
  • I am a breast cancer survivor and believe strongly in research and prevention!
  • they have been exposed!!
  • $ should go to research or direct care providers for indigent women, not bureacracies.
  • Komen is poised to change everything. They have the name recognition, they can truly change the face of breast cancer. But, it must be done in ways that will benefit those who need it most. First, the MBC patients. They MUST be the top priority. FIRST, we save lives.
  • Nancy promised her sister a cure. Well after 30 years of Fund Raising, it’s time to really put the money in funding in Stage IV research. Mammograms, early detection, education are not ways to a cure.
  • Funding for Stage IV cancer – the stage that kills.
  • I am a survivor and we need to fund research because there are many aspects of the disease being overlooked for funding.
  • My mother is a breast cancer survivor and is currently fighting again to beat it, I don’t want her to be a statistic. This organization needs to re-focus on what it was started to do: funding research to cure breast cancer.
  • No cure=No hope. Komen can change that for the 30% with stage IV breast cancer
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2 comments to As Komen’s brand falters, some are calling on Brinker to lead

  • Emailed comment from Jill Marshall: “I, too, am cancer-free for Mets that showed up 17 yrs. after original BC, but for how long? Research is one of the most important need for Stage IV BC as are the other things listed in this Petition. I, too, was sucked in to Komen, but now I wait for real change!”

  • Gayle,

    Thank you so much for sharing this petition with your readers!! We’re coming up on 150 signatures. Good for the first week, but I wold LOVE to see us hit 38,510 – the number of people who will die of breast cancer in 2012. It is a daunting task, but when lives our on the line, this community does NOT give up!

    Fondly,
    Lori

To speak her truth, she needed to give her words and identity away, to a trusted poet and friend @stevedavenport breastcancerconsortium.net/ov…

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* GAYLE IN THE MEDIA *

"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

Backlash against “pinkwashing” of breast cancer awareness campaigns BMJ

Breast Cancer to Rise 50 Percent by 2030? Hey, Not So Fast! Health News Review

Breast Cancer: The Flaws in the Cause iafrica.com

How to Make the Biggest Impact With Your Breast Cancer Donations Money

The Very Pink, Very Controversial Business of Breast Cancer Awareness Racked

NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

3 Questions We Need to Answer for Breast Cancer Awareness Month Chronicle of Philanthropy

The problem with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Women's Health Magazine

Pink Ribbon Envy: Living with an Uncool Cancer The Nib

A Year After Bombings, Some Say 'Boston Strong' Has Gone Overboard NPR, All Things Considered

Canadian Mammogram Study KCRW, NPR Affiliate

Time to Debunk the Mammography Myth CNN

Breast Cancer: Awareness, Activism & Pinkwashing NPR Charlotte

Buying Pink Al Jazeera's The Stream Watch »

The Pink Backlash Orlando Sentinel

Why Jolie's Test Costs So Much CNN

Preventative Mastectomies: Disease and Deception BlogTalkRadio

Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer The New York Times Magazine.

The Story Behind the Pink Ribbon Campaign Sisters Talk Radio

WISH Interview Women's International Summit for Health

Making Cancer About The Patient, Not The Body Part CBS Pittsburgh

Sexy breast cancer campaigns anger many patients USA Today

The perils of pink The Daily

Komen pink campaign creates breast-cancer blues for some Dallas Morning News

A yellow flag for the NFL's pink New York Daily

Gayle Sulik named #7 in SharecareNow’s Top 10 Online Influencers in Breast Cancer

Breast cancer cancer causes so easily derailed Philly Inquirer

Komen Charity Under Microscope for Funding, Science Reuters

The Fight Against Cancer - And Abortion? Salon.com

Susan G. Komen For the Cure defunds Planned Parenthood. In Deep with Angie Coiro

Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

How is Breast Cancer Culture Undermining Women's Health? America’s Radio News Network

Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
Marie Claire

Does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Crowd Out Other Diseases? Slate

Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

Get Your Pink Off Ottawa Citizen

Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today

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