I was turned on to this question by the recent turmoil at the Susan G Komen For the Cure organization. Very little frosts me more than falsely promising hope. And the Komen organization seems to be promising this if only they collect enough money by selling pink ribbons and promoting as their website says, The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® Series, the worlds largest and most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer ever created."
Now Susan Komen does good stuff. They promote early detection and when I volunteered at a free clinic, provided funding for breast cancer screening, something I think they do in many communities. They also sponsor research and fellowships and have an admirable record of spending most of what they take in on their programs.
This is distinct from my former organization, the American Cancer Society, which rates pretty low in this regard, spending a huge amount on fund raising. But unlike Susan Komen, the ACS just provides the facts without promises of a cure.
So is the Komen group promising more than they can deliver? They certainly are. Will we ever cure cancer? I doubt it. Look at the numbers. What is the biggest risk factor for developing cancer? Living. The longer you live, the more likely it is you will develop cancer.
For example the cancer rate is ten times higher in 80 year olds than in 40 year olds. Why is this? Many explanations, few facts. Our cells age and dont work well. How about the early detection? It helps a little, but most of the studies show that mammography lowers the risk of dying from breast cancer by 25 percent, if you are over 50. Younger than that? Doctors arent sure. It may help a little or not at all.
So all those pink ribbons promising cure and little to show for it as far as cures go. But it raises lots of money and that is the problem. Perhaps it sucks the air out of other organization like the ACS, which really is trying to provide meaningful help for all patients and promote prevention with its research. There is only so much money to give and focusing on one cancer is not the answer, especially when false hopes are raised.
[Kattlove is a retired medical oncologist. For the last seven years, before he retired, he was a medical editor for the American Cancer Society where he helped develop much of the information about specific cancers that is posted on the website at [url]www.cancer.org. He trained in hematology and oncology at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center in New York and then spent 5 years as an assistant professor at UCLA.]
The month of October is upon us. With it, brings the profusion of the pink ribbon that has become the branded logo of breast cancer. Survivors will be celebrated, and rightly so. They will feel pride in their victory, and feel strength from the multitudes of supporters, who will gather in parades.
The month of October is upon us. With it, brings the profusion of the pink ribbon that has become the branded logo of breast cancer. Survivors will be celebrated, and rightly so. They will feel pride in their victory, and feel strength from the multitudes of supporters, who will gather in parades and walks all across the world. The pink banners will wave and the month's events will be covered by media outlets everywhere. This is Susan G. Komen's self created pinnacle. This is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
This is also the month of the forgotten. This is the month that the stage IV community must be reminded that we don't count. We are supposed to feel honored and recognized. We don't. We feel left out, ignored, angry, hurt, saddened, and sometimes hopeless. But, by ALL of us, working together, we can be the catalyst to change all that.
According to the American Cancer Society, this year, there is expected to be almost 230,000 new cases of breast cancer in the United States. 30% of these men and women will become metastatic (stage IV), resulting in over 40,000 deaths. The average life expectancy, after becoming metastatic, is 18-36 months, with no significant increase in over 50 years.
Stage IV breast cancer gets less than 3% of all funding allocated toward research. We need this to change. 30% of breast cancers will become metastatic, therefore, we are asking that 30% of allocated funds be devoted to stage IV research. 30 for 30, if you will. We should all be "aware", but the real cure will come from research!
Early detection and prevention only tell part of the story. We are the rest of the story. The forgotten. The stage IV community can no longer afford to be ignored. We can no longer be swept under the proverbial pink rug. We are the true face of 30% of all breast cancer. We are the terminal victims of this insidious, life stealing disease. We can no longer, also afford to be the victims of inadequate research funding, research that could save lives.
Please help us send this message to Susan G. Komen For the Cure, by signing this petition. Help us find our cure, and maybe one day, pink will be just another color.
Under the body of the petition are jpg pictures of the House and Senate Resolutions declaring October 13th to be National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.