Tag Archives: breast cancer research

Paper Towels Ruined My Morning

7 Feb

I don’t know about you but I am still annoyed about this whole Susan G. Komen/Planned Parenthood thing.  I am, obviously, annoyed because of the actual events as they occurred.  I think the apology issued by Komen was some bullshit.  I wish Karen Handel would have gotten fired rather than being able to resign her position.  I think it would have been great if Komen would have had better sense than to hire a woman who is not pro-woman in the first place for an organization that claims to be all about women’s health.  It would have been nice if they hadn’t played into that stereotype that we all love pink because, really, I think there are a lot of women who prefer, say, orange instead.  Forget the color, actually, how about if Komen actually gave credit where credit was due, say, to Charlotte Haley, the 68-year-old designer of the original pink ribbon which were actually peach-colored and were handmade in her dining room.  Self Magazine approached Charlotte Haley and asked her if they could join forces with her, use her ribbon, make it national.  Haley said no, they were too commercial.  So what did they do?  They took her ribbon, made it pink, and now here we are.  Here we are, stuck with pink, and all this political bullshit that now accompanies it.  Because clearly breast cancer research can’t just be about providing grants for breast cancer screening, or trying to find a cure, or at least finding a less painful, less invasive way of dealing with such a prevalent disease.  No, it has to be about a message.  About marketing.  About being the top dog.  About feeling good about yourself as a company.  About pink.

Okay so this morning I was in the bathroom, brushing my teeth, looking around when I noticed it.  There it was, a previously innocuous package of 12 rolls of Bounty paper towels and it was swathed in pink.  A giant pink ribbon covered the external packaging that held together all the individually wrapped bundles of non-recycled paper towels (see how deep the guilt goes? See what I get for not buying Marcal Small Steps or some other green version of the incredibly wasteful paper products that we all use?).  And I was angry.  Obviously, I was angry that we had decided to take the savings-route rather than the responsible-route, but mostly I was angry that I had inadvertently donated to this organization that was intentionally, and don’t let them tell you otherwise, intentionally fighting against something that I consider to be very important.  The right for a woman to make a choice.  A goddamn choice.  Which then reminded me of Representative Jackie Speier and what she said on the House floor.  (By the way, this is actually the flow of thoughts as they come to my head.  Paper towels –> not green –> bad choice –> no choice! –> Representative Jackie Speier.  Scary, isn’t it?) After listening to man after man talk about his disgust with abortion, his disgust, really, with women, which to me means his disgust with circumstance and with the fact that cost-cutting and disdain for minorities (largely by his very party, by the way) have left women, especially low-income, minority women, with few options when it came to reproductive health (options?  who needs options??) and the cost of having a child with basically no social safety net, she said the following:

“Mr. Chairman, I had really planned to speak about something else, but the gentleman from New Jersey has just put my stomach in knots, because I’m one of those women he spoke about just now. That procedure that you just talked about was a procedure that I endured…But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest as you have somehow this is a procedure that is either welcome or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.”

Bravo, Jackie Speier.  Bravo for saying something that so many of us think but either don’t have the opportunity, or the availability of words, to actually say.  I find it insulting that an organization that claims to be all about women, all about our health, would voluntarily hire someone who is so obviously against the best interest of women and think that we wouldn’t eventually find out about it.  I am also insulted that Howie Kurtz has decided that it was the media that forced the apology, bullshit apology that it was.  In fact, you know what Howie?  I will give you that lame-ass apology.  I will let you and your industry take full responsibility for that one because I hope that the rest of us can actually get something of substance.  Think about it this way:  pro-choice people are angry and are donating to Planned Parenthood instead of Komen.  Anti-choice people are angry that funding was restored and are donating to some organization involving the word “Family” in its title.  Komen is scared because the money that used to come easy isn’t coming easy anymore.  Because you know what speaks louder than the media, Howie?  Money.  That’s what.  So, as I said, take credit for that apology.  I’m still waiting for a real one. And I am also, by the way, waiting for all the Komen corporate sponsors to back out, one by one, so I can once again use my cancer-causing skin lotion and nuun rehydration tablets and listen to the New Kids on the Block and eat Beemster cheese without being thrown into fits of rage.

And finally, I am angry that my whole zen-like, tooth brushing experience this morning was completely ruined by my pink ribbon sighting and I wonder, will my morning ritual ever be the same?  At least as long as those paper towels are there?

Disclaimer:  I do not, to my knowledge use any cancer-causing skin lotion.  I only said that for effect.  I also don’t listen to New Kids on the Block while I eat Beemster cheese or at any other time.  I do, however, really like my nuun tablets and I am glad that I stocked up on them before this whole thing happened to I can justify using them because I don’t want them to go to waste.  Also, I enjoy run-on sentences.  The end.

I’ll Push You Down the Stairs, Susan

1 Feb

Today in New York City it is a blistering 60 degrees on the 1st day of February and I am in an icy, icy mood. Why, you might ask?  Well, Susan G. Komen For the Cure, the originator of the ubiquitous pink ribbon campaign, has decided to jump on the evil, woman-hating bandwagon and defund Planned Parenthood.  This seemed rather counter-intuitive to me at first.  This organization has spent its more than 2 decades in existence raising money to try and find a cure for breast cancer and yet it has defunded an organization that provides something like 750,000 breast exams annually.  And why, you might ask?  Well, it appears as though there are two reasons for this.  The first reason, and the one cited by the organization itself, is that the Susan G. Komen foundation has recently changed its policy to say that any organization that is the focus of a congressional investigation will no longer receive money from the Komen coffers.  Planned Parenthood, it turns out, is in the middle of just such an investigation.  And what a strange coincidence this is considering the second reason for the defunding:  the recent appointment of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel as the vice president of Susan G. Komen.  Karen Handel is against gay marriage, civil unions, and adoption of children by gay parents.  Karen Handel supports an Arizona-style immigration law for Georgia and, presumably, for the entire country.  And, not surprisingly, Karen Handel is aggressively pro-life (she does, however, make exceptions to her stance in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the health of the mother…wow, thanks).  Karen Handel has now, through this ill-motivated action, made it even more difficult for low income women and those lacking health care to have access to low-cost breast exams.  She has allowed her “family values” to condemn countless women to a fate her new found home has worked tirelessly to cure.  And, sadly, Susan G. Komen has allowed her to tarnish its reputation by permitting this obviously politically-motivated move.  Bravo.  As a result, I have written a letter to the foundation.

To Whom it May Concern,

When I was a sophomore in high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I remember every detail about that day as if it happened yesterday rather than nearly 13 years ago.  I was scared and angry and devastated.  My mom was, and is, my best friend in the world.  She is a survivor and I cannot help but think that efforts of organizations such as yours aided her in overcoming her disease.  That is why I write to you today.  My mom is a survivor not only because of all of the research that went into, and continues to go into, the fight against breast cancer but because her cancer was detected early thanks to a routine visit to her doctor.  Luckily for my mom, and for those who love her, we had health insurance and access to a good physician and a great hospital that aided her in detecting, and later in curing, her cancer.  So many women, however, do not have that luxury and that is why I write to you today.

I am certain you can imagine my utter dismay when I turned on my computer this morning and was confronted with an article that your organization, one that works tirelessly to help women overcome breast cancer, has cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, an institution that provides 750,000 breast exams to uninsured, low income women yearly.  How many of those women, I cannot help but wonder, received life-saving information that allowed them to seek proper treatment?  How many women, as Planned Parenthood clinics close across the country, will no longer have access to regular breast exams?  Cancer, as you know, is not something that decides who to infect according to class lines.  It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  Of the 750,000 women Planned Parenthood screens annually, that means roughly 9,000 of them will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  By cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood you have effectively abandoned those women.

According to a number of sources, your reason for cutting off funding is a result of the congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood’s spending of federal dollars.  You know as well as I do that this investigation is nothing more than a witch hunt designed to outlaw abortions nationwide.  The problem is that only 3% of services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortions.  Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, do not let that 3% cloud your mind to the thousands of women saved annually by early detection of breast cancer.  Reinstate funding.


Rebekah Frank

What I really wanted to send to my friends at Susan G. Komen was something way more angry, and way less reasonable, than the letter I sent.  What I wanted to say to them is what my friend Beth said to me this afternoon in an email:  Seriously, stop hiring women who hate women.  If only.