Susan G Komen for the Cure Foundation is the name pretty much synonymous with breast cancer. I have said this many times before, but I suppose it bears another telling. I don't think the Komen foundation is EVIL. In fact, I know people who have found them to be extremely supportive in their own journeys. For that, I applaud them.
I do think that there was a point in our recent history when breast cancer was a shameful topic and a shameful disease. Women had very little control over their treatment -- they'd go in for a biopsy and if the doctor found cancer, he'd perform a radical mastectomy (breast, lymph nodes, chest muscles, etc). Now, I think this has changed for multiple reasons, not the least of while being the women's health movement championed by feminists in the 1970s and brave pioneers like Rose Kushner. And I give credit to Komen for playing a big role in bringing this disease out of the shadows. For that, I applaud them.
here, here, here, and here) show that the "Cure" part of their name is a misnomer. Please read Anna's posts for more detail, but here is one graphic from their financial statements. Follow the money... the only way to CURE cancer is through research. Does it seem to be their top priority?
My problem with this is simple. Komen is the Goliath in the breast cancer fundraising world. Well-intentioned people donate to it thinking that FOR A CURE might mean that they are focusing on curing cancer. However, the bulk of their money and focus is on education. And I certainly don't expect well-intentioned people to understand the ins and outs of this one.
To me, it all seems a little bit less than transparent.
However, it's difficult to criticize them, just as it was difficult to criticize the boobies. People interpret you to be bitter, ungrateful, or anti-woman because they have cornered the market on sentimentality. There is always a place for the emotion in this debate, but it shouldn't be happening at the expense of taking a critical look at the reality. No organization should be exempt from scrutiny.
My gut feeling is that Komen has become such a big organization that it has a hard time changing direction. So when new information comes out, like that mammograms DON'T save lives, instead of refocusing in light of new information, they spend their energy attacking those who spread that message. It becomes an issue of self-preservation.
Wow, that was a long winded introduction to this...
I received an email about a new site -- KomenWatch. This is certainly making a splash. From their About Page:
KomenWatch is a public service website (www.komenwatch.org) dedicated to sharinginformation and generating critical discussion about Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the largest breast cancer fundraiser in the world, and whose stated mission is to “end breast cancer forever” and work “for the cure.”
From their same page, why paying attention is important.
Since it’s founding in 1982 Komen has contributed positively to the breast cancer cause. As part of a diverse and vibrant advocacy movement, Komen helped to heighten the visibility of breast cancer as a women’s health issue, elevate the importance of survivorship, raise money to fund education and outreach programs and to provide seed money for select research projects, bring attention to underserved populations, and transform the pink ribbon into a common logo. However, the actions that made Komen successful in the past now undermine its ability to achieve its ultimate mission.
At KomenWatch, we are deeply concerned that Komen’s funding relationships, program allocations, awareness messages, educational materials, and general organizational conduct are no longer in accordance with the spirit of its nonprofit status, nor are they aligned to its basic mission of ending breast cancer forever. Numerous sources over the years have pointed out that:
- Komen partners with companies that have conflicts of interest, undermining the organization’s credibility and potential to achieve its mission.
- Komen’s program allocations are tipped heavily away from research and toward activities that are not likely to eradicate the disease.
- Komen’s branding practices and trademark conflicts with other organizations do not promote goodwill or collaboration among other organizations, even those that share its mission.
- Though Komen repeatedly boasts about its high ratings on Charity Navigator, such ratings say nothing about the quality of Komen’s programs, the services its provides, nor whether the foundation’s overhead costs embedded within its program budgets are reasonable. The organization may not be as effective or fiscally efficient as it appears on the surface.
- Komen’s education and awareness activities are geared toward publicity, fund-raising, and the dissemination of information about breast cancer that does not adequately attend to scientific controversies and bodies of scientific evidence.
- Komen’s current organizational structure and approach to breast cancer eradication is at odds with its own mission, and with individuals and organizations that are working to eradicate breast cancer while improving public health and support for the diagnosed.
- Komen’s operations appear to be more similar to that of a “for-profit corporation” than of a “non-profit charitable organization.”
Wowza wow wow. Please take time to read and share this site. And stay tuned...