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 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.


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!


"women urged to get screened because it might save their lives. But that’s only 1 possible outcome, and it’s the least likely one" @cragcrest

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