Susan G. Komen for the Cure isn’t curing anything. This is an organization I used to really support. I have a history of breast cancer in my family and the two naturally met. But the more I’ve learned about Komen, the more upset I’ve become at the way their organization works.
This isn’t going to be an exhaustive list of everything I find to be wrong with Susan G. Komen for the Cure [Komen, herein]. I’m going to touch on a few of the more egregious points and some of the things I’ve learned most recently. A lot of people have rosy Pink glasses on when it comes to Komen; today, I’m asking you to suspend whatever you believe about this nonprofit and think critically about them. If you walk away still liking them, that’s fine. But I hope people will at least be open to the idea that this organization isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Komen and KFC
This obviously has tons to do with curing breast cancer, right?
Yes, as in that KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Or in its more recent, PC form, “Kitchen” Friend Chicken.) What’s a nonprofit that’s fighting breast cancer doing partnered with a fast-food chicken chain? Good question. The NY Daily News article sums it up well:
“‘So, in effect, Susan G. Komen for the Cure is helping to sell deep-fried fast food and, in so doing, help fuel unhealthy diet and obesity across America, an odd plan given that diet and obesity certainly impact on both the incidence and recurrence of breast cancer,’ Freedhoff wrote [on her Weighty Matters blog]. And suggested that a possible alternative would have been for KFC to just hand over a check for breast cancer research to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.” [bolding mine]
The reason KFC didn’t just give Komen a check is obvious: that wouldn’t sell chicken. KFC needed to be pinkwashed and have the unspoken but very much implied endorsement of Komen. Because surely Komen wouldn’t endorse something unhealthy, let alone something that plays into higher breast cancer rates, right? Right?
Racing for the Cure… but what about Prevention?
Everybody knows about Race for the Cure. Kudos to the marketing machine that is Komen, because people know their brand. But while they’re busy marketing Race for the Cure and the miles-long list of pinkwashed stuff that they co-brand and profit from, you know what they’re not marketing?
They’re not marketing the thing that normalizes a woman’s risk for breast cancer: breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding doesn’t reduce a woman’s risk of breast cancer. It’s the biological norm and what female bodies are hard-wired to do. So when we take steps to repress that natural and biologically-expected process, we’re increasing risk. The body is missing out on the changes that happen through the stages of lactation and because that’s been circumvented, risk increases. We don’t fully understand lactation or breastmilk, so it’s impossible to compensate for what happens between childbirth and repressed lactation.
In more common, mainstream terms: breastfeeding reduces risk. In more accurate terms, not breastfeeding increases risk. It’s not a guarantee or a sure-fire mode of prevention, but it’s a big deal. It’s a known factor. So if we know this, why doesn’t Komen talk about breastfeeding as a way to reduce risk?
Here’s some fantastic commentary from a breast cancer and double-mastectomy survivor, Danielle Rigg, Co-Founder of Best for Babes Foundation:
…the Cure is not enough; we need both treatment AND prevention. And that means awareness and action beyond the monthly self-exam for breast cancer, regular visits to the doctor, and yearly mammograms (which are more properly classed as detection than prevention). It means an unrelenting focus on ensuring and educating about real food (whole, unprocessed, organic, fresh and local at best), clean air, clean water, toxin-free products for home and body, and exercise among other things, and it includes emphasizing the miracle milk that jump starts it all! The evidence is clear that breast tissue is less susceptible to aberrations if you exclusively breastfeed: Breastfeeding is associated with a lower risk (a whopping 59%!!) of breast cancer in women who have a family history of the disease and at least a 28% reduction for those without one (me). And it lowers your breastfed baby girl’s lifetime risk getting breast cancer by 25% ! Sadly, millions of people have never even heard of this. Public service campaigns are often outmarketed by industries that are driven by the need to increase profits for shareholders, not by an interest in advancing health.
Business Depends on Not Finding a Cure
To answer the question I posed at the end of the last section, why not talk about it? Maybe because their business model depends on the existence of cancer. Maybe not; maybe there’s another reason or a whole litany of them.
Regardless, at the end of the day, Komen (and all its payees) are left without profits or a Cause when breast cancer is cured. Maybe not immediately, but that’s the deal. There are lots of health problem-related charities in the same boat, so I’m not knocking the entire model. I’m bringing it up here because Komen is particularly rich and stands to lose more than the average nonprofit. There’s a mini-economy surrounding Pink Ribbon sales and a lot of people stand to lose a lot of money when breast cancer rates decline and it’s no longer the Cause du jour.
Hope in a Bottle: Cancer Patients Should Smell Nice
What celebrity nonprofit is complete without their own fragrance line?
Komen released their perfume, “Promises,” earlier this year. Not surprisingly, it’s made with stuff I wouldn’t want around my healthy family, let alone near a cancer patient. Breast Cancer Action sums it up well:
It seems hypocritical that Susan G. Komen for a Cure would create a perfume that contains potential carcinogens while simultaneously claiming to fight “every minute of every day to finish what we started and achieve our vision of a world without breast cancer”? That’s what Breast Cancer Action thinks, too. No amount of shopping for pink ribbon products will rid our world of the breast cancer epidemic. [early bolding mine; end bolding theirs]
Why create a perfume with known potential carcinogens in it? Because it will SELL. Because selling is what Komen does best. They took that perfume on QVC and I’m sure they made a mint; nevermind that there are ingredients in their perfume that are known to be harmful. I guess that’s just not important to Komen for the Cure.
It leaves me wondering: Would Nancy Brinker, CEO of Komen for the Cure, have given this perfume to her sister, Susan G. Komen? Would she have given it to her during her illness? Would she give it to her now, had she survived? What would Susan think of the mass-marketing of products being the focal point of an organization claiming to be devoted to curing her disease?
Reprinted with permission from Amy West of Just West of Crunchy. You can read all about Amy here.
Hello! My name is Karen Hurrell. I have recently joined Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear to manage their International Business Development. I am very pleased to be a part of the team! I owe my introduction into the world of breastfeeding to my dear, life-long friend Lara Audelo of MamaPear Designs. It was at the MamaPear ILCA Conference booth in San Diego this summer that I met Wendy Armbruster Bell.
In my early career I worked in the student loan industry in Florida. It was a great way to work personally with colleges, universities and students. I spent my last few years in Florida managing the Federal Loan Program for students studying abroad. That position gave me the opportunity to work with universities around the world. I am drawing on that experience to help build international business for Snugabell Mom & Baby Gear.
I am also a musician - I am a vocalist, pianist and I play a little guitar. I enjoy singing with the local symphony chorus and most of all teaching my private piano students. It is such a blessing to watch them discover their own love of music.
In my free time I am an avid reader and I love to knit. I also have a passion for travel. My favorite destinations have been Alaska, France, Prince Edward Island and Australia. I currently live near Chicago and love it! To me, there's no place like the American midwest. My next goal is to start my Master's degree in English this January at Purdue University.
I am very excited about my future at Snugabell. Look out world, here we come!
Hi! I’m Melany and I am the newest addition to the Snugabell team. I am in charge of shipping. I started working with Wendy and Robyn at the beginning of June. Truth be told, Robyn the “Office Diva” is my wonderful mother who has introduced me to Wendy and the world of breastfeeding! While I may not live up to my mother's title of "diva", I am learning as I get older, that the apple does not fall far from the tree. Here’s a little background information on myself…
I am 22 year old student currently attending Kwantlen Polytechnic University for a Bachelor of Technology in Information Technology. While breastfeeding does not have anything to do with what I am studying, I am surprised at how fascinating it is and how much I didn’t know about it! I have learnt so much this summer (and I thought I would have a mental break before I go back to school) and look forward to learning so much more. Of course time flew by this summer and now with school starting in a week, my plan is to continue to work a couple days a week here at Snugabell.
When not working at Snugabell, I work as a server at an Italian restaurant - Coza! Tuscan Grill. I have worked there for just about four years. I love Coza not only for the great food and amazing wine, but I also get to work with great friends. When I told them about my new job, I was so surprised at how uninformed they were about breastfeeding and pumping. They had never really heard or seen much about it and thought of it as almost taboo (how unfortunate!). I will no doubt be enlightening them and perhaps even sharing PumpEase with some of my pregnant customers.
Also in my years at Coza, I have met the amazing man in my life, Garrett. We have been together for just over two years now and it has been nothing short of wonderful. This summer we were able to go on an incredible trip to New York City and Toronto together. While in New York City we were able to see some amazing sites like the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Empire State Building and more! But my favourite moments were seeing the Broadway show "Jersey Boys" and a Mets vs Yankees game (the Mets won!). We feel like there was not enough time to see everything and we want to go back.
Traveling is one of my biggest passions. I love experiencing different cultures and meeting new people. I have been so fortunate to have seen as much as I have and I am realizing that there is so much more to see! If I could go back to Italy, Spain, or Portugal and maybe even live there one day, I would die happy.
However, now that my travelling bug is out of me for the summer, it is time to buckle down and focus on school for the next few years. My plan is to be able to fit traveling in between finishing my degree and starting my own family! I now know that when I come to that point in my life I will be well equipped with knowledge about breastfeeding and being a working mom, as I work with two amazing ones!
You remember Jen - she is the lovely mama that began as one of our wonderful PumpEase customers and shortly thereafter evolved into a true PumpEase Ambassador of her own accord. Jen first shared with us, the story of her bumpy road to exclusively pumping and pumping in public (PIP) on Black Friday and now with this post, she shows us how she pumps while mowing the lawn. You GO girl!
This post is the fourth of TEN in the "What Can You Do While Pumping" video series. Please check back regularly to see where Jen sets up the horns next!
I especially like this "pumping while" video because it combines several tasks: pumping (a must do) with mowing the lawn (another must do), getting some exercise (bonus #1) AND absorbing some Vitamin D (bonus #2). I guess you could even get a bit of a tan! Jen, I hope you wore sunscreen. You may want to add that to your "steps" (I'm the sunscreen police in my house).
I also like the fact that Jen is wearing her PumpEase solo today (no nursing bra underneath). Although PumpEase isn't meant to be a standalone bra, you can see that it does support your breasts to a certain extent. I find that different moms like different levels of support, so it is really personal preference on whether to wear it solo or not.
Thanks Jason and Levi for your help with Jen's latest adventure!
By the way, you can follow Jen on Twitter and "like" her on Facebook if you'd like to catch-up with her one-on-one.
So, would you pump while mowing the lawn? Do you think your neighbours would even know what you are doing (I'm thinking no). Chime in below.
I originally thought of blogging about *my* Dad for Father's Day. He has been gone almost four years now (I still miss him everyday) and I never did write about him afer he passed like I had meant to...
Then I heard yet another giggle and squeal from the other room as my husband Mike horsed around with our two little girls and knew I needed to share with you what a wonderful Daddy my two daughters have.
There isn't a day that goes by that Mike doesn't tell me, after checking on the girls before heading to bed, how much he "loves those two little girls". And they certainly know it as he probably tells them at least ten times a day.
He has taught them all about vegetarianism and nutrition (I am the only carnivore in the house). I have to admit it is pretty impressive listening to Antonia, our six year old, reading nutritional information on packages. She really considers what she eats, sometimes even passing on something sweet because she had a peanut butter and jam sandwich for lunch. Not to mention the way she wolfs down her veggies and hums and haws over her french fries "because they are not that good for you".
He has also taught them how important being active is, how they can be anything they want to be when they grow up, the importance of music in our culture and the difference between a Porsche and a BMW. ;-)
My daughters' Daddy is loyal, intelligent, good looking :-), honest and talented...
AAAAAND he drives me crazy most days, but hey, I probably drive him crazy too right?
You want details? Really? OK, twist my rubber arm...
Mike is the king of corny jokes (G-R-O-A-N), hoards food (he had 14 boxes of cereal when I moved in with him). Actually, I take that back - I don't think he is a hoarder, he is just not that organized in the kitchen cupboard department and so couldn't tell that behind the 32 cans of soup that he actually had petrified Christmas cookies - a gift from a friend five years previous, 12 cans of cranberry sauce and 14 boxes of cereal. I am poking fun here, but be warned, there WAS 14 boxes of cereal.
Then there is his other annoying habit of leaving 1/2 teaspoon of product in shampoo bottles, peanut butter jars, coffee creamer and cereal boxes (yes, the cereal boxes rear their ugly head again). So you go about your routine taking notice of the shampoo/peanut butter/coffee creamer in passing (yes, we have some as I see it in the shower/cupboad/fridge) and then all of a sudden the ka-ka hits the fan because you can't wash your hair, eat breakfast or drink coffee (I don't *do* black coffee). How much effort, I ask you, does it take to put that bottle/jar/tetra pak in the recycling so that I can say, "Hey, we're out of _____.", and write it on the grocery list?
OK, so enough of the teasing. Now comes the gushing part...
Mike is always thinking of me and the girls no matter where he is. He is an amazing provider and is extremely generous of his time which sure comes in handy considering the crazy number of hours I work. After Michaela was born, he picked-up even more duties to help keep this house running. He is always willing to help you out and after he does, a simple thank you will do. There is no keeping score.
Mike is also the most sensitive man I have ever met. He cried at both of our daughters' births, the first time he fed them each expressed breast milk out of a bottle and at our wedding. In fact, the marriage commissioner congratulated him for making it through the ceremony. When we flip through pics of the girls when they were babies, he is often blubbering away. <--- I don't have a hope in hell of having dry eyes once he starts I tell ya!
He is also a total worry wart. It warms my heart to listen to him fret about the girls doing this and that. And he worries about me too. Mike is also passionate about making this world a better place for our children.
Other stuff about Mike that you may not know? He plays both guitar and bass, has a beautiful singing voice, went to recording arts school and has worked as a landscaper, painter and in a pottery studio, at Coca Cola, Happy Planet and StupidStore. Here's a good one - he looks 12 years old when he shaves off his goatee (he has done it once since I've known him and is now forbidden to repeat the offense). He also has an uncanny ability to reproduce animal noises - he doesn't even practice, it just comes out of his mouth "perfect". On that note, he can also reproduce the sound of trains, planes and automobiles, with the latter even distinguishing between diesel, four, six and eight cylinders (no, I'm not kidding). Oh and he is a veritable walking encyclopedia when it comes to cars and motorcycles. You ask him - any make, model or year and he usually knows the answer. This trait, he shares with my Dad. Too bad my Dad was already so sick when they met.
Mike is also one of the luckiest people I've ever met. He won a car at the PNE years ago and then a couple of years ago won a dirt bike at the Vancouver Motorcycle Show. When we were at Fort Langley last summer with friends, he panned for gold and got a nugget in the first pan (and yes it was real gold). I know he has won other things too, but can't recall at the minute. We're still waiting for the lottery though dammit!
He is open-minded, well-spoken, out-going and genuine. Mike Bell - you are an original!
I know I'm missing some things I wanted to say. I had hoped to post this last night, however ran out of time as I was prepping for the course I'm taking in Seattle this week. Therefore, I am going to post this now while Father's Day is still Father's Day (at least in our time zone).
Happy Father's Day Mike. You are loved very much by the three ladies in your house. You make us feel special and loved and for that we thank you.
Wendy (and Antonia and Michaela too)