Mother’s Day & the Twentieth Anniversary of the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at Mall of America®
Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. Mother’s Day 2012 marked a significant milestone for me. I’ve now experienced five Mother’s Days without a mother. Five. This feels pretty major.
Mother’s Day 2012 also marked another very different kind of milestone.
In my neck of the woods, Mother’s Day marks the annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at Mall of America® event in Bloomington, Minnesota.
This year the event was even more celebrated and even more publicized because it was the twentieth anniversary of this particular race from this particular “starting line.”
So it’s no surprise there was an extra dose of “party atmosphere” mixed in with the event this year. More racers were expected, more potential dollars were waiting to be raked in, more ads were televised and, of course, more pink was on display or worn everywhere one looked.
It was also the perfect day and event for Komen to do more much badly needed damage control.
After following the recent well-publicized mishandling of the funding for Planned Parenthood and the fall-out that is still continuing, I’ve been wondering if this particular Mother’s Day race would be impacted. I‘ve been wondering if the numbers would be down. The numbers have been down a bit elsewhere. Historically, this particular race at the Mall of America is one of Komen’s biggest money-producing races in the nation.
After all, doesn’t everyone love to run or watch a race and then go shopping?
So after all this wondering, I was eager to tune into the local late Sunday evening news because I knew the story would be covered extensively just like last year. I mean Mother’s Day and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, what could be better for generating some feel-good positive vibes for your Sunday evening local news television viewers, right?
Feeling anything other than all warm and fuzzy, would almost be like being anti-motherhood, right?
As it turned out, I was not disappointed. There was plenty of coverage.
Unfortunately, from my vantage point, the biased coverage was another perfect example of the media’s continuing reluctance to tell the whole Komen story.
There was no mention of Komen’s recent public relations problems. There was no mention of the fact the number of race participants was down this year as recently reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. There was no mention of any discontent whatsoever.
Wasn’t this a blatant omission of an important piece of this particular news story?
I think it was.
Even after all the recent fall-out, Komen’s high placement on the pink pedestal seemed to be pretty secure around here.
Once again, there sat the smiling anchors oozing admiration and praise for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and for this wonderful annual feel-good event. It felt as if Mother’s Day and breast cancer were both being used for shameless self-promotion by Komen and the news station.
There was a lot of “back patting” going on along with all that smiling.
However, I wasn’t smiling. I wasn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy; no, I was feeling quite the opposite. Once again I felt fidgety, irritated, even angry, but mostly I felt sad.
Because although this event was once again pretty successful for the Komen Foundation, for women like my mother, not so much.
Metastatic breast cancer does not seem to garner much attention from Komen. Those living with metastatic breast cancer do not receive much of the support or many of the dollars raised from all this racing.
My mother, all the other women (and men) lost to this disease and those presently living with metastatic breast cancer don’t seem to be helped much, if at all by all the dollars raised.
This is terribly ironic, but mostly terribly sad. It’s also unacceptable.
These words were taken directly from the official visitor’s site for the Bloomington Convention and Visitor’s Bureau:
“This May, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure at Mall of America® will bring together competitive runners, wheelchair athletes, walkers and breast cancer survivors. By running, walking or rolling in the Race for the Cure Minneapolis, thousands will help raise funds for breast cancer research.”
Did you notice those last three words, breast cancer research?
Kind of makes me wonder if even the Bloomington Visitor’s Bureau has been duped along with so many others.
There is nothing wrong with wearing pink. There is nothing wrong with walking or running in races. There is nothing wrong with seeking out camaraderie with other survivors. There is nothing wrong with wanting to do something.
No, these are all admirable things and I admire all the participants in this and other events like it.
However, I do believe the Susan G. Komen Foundation is in the wrong here.
It is wrong when you define your mission to be ending breast cancer and yet for the last two years you cut the proportion of fund-raising dollars spent on grants to scientists working on this very thing.
In 2011, Komen allocated 15% of its donations to research awards. This is a drop from 17% allocated in 2009 and 2010.
Komen slashes dollars spent on research (already a minuscule amount to begin with) despite the fact that dollar amounts being donated have been rising (until the Planned Parenthood fiasco).
Something is seriously wrong with this picture.
A cure without research will never happen.
Prevention without research will never happen.
Better and less harsh treatments without research will never happen.
In addition to the small amounts being allocated to research, Komen has also come under criticism for what research projects it does fund.
Two wrongs definitely do not make a right.
It’s not only important to do research, it’s important to research the right things.
Komen’s main focus continues to be on education/awareness, but even here they seem to be out of touch with present day recommendations regarding mammograms and breast self exams. Komen seems to be suffering from “science denial-ism.”
I’m slightly encouraged because people are beginning to wake up to the reality of Komen’s numbers.
People are beginning to be dissatisfied with the shockingly dismal amount of dollars allocated for research. People are beginning to demand better accountability. People are beginning to not settle.
However, beginnings are merely that, beginnings.
Now we need to move on to meaningful action and meaningful change.
Now that would be something worth celebrating.
Do you choose (or have you ever chosen) to participate in Komen events? Why or why not?
Are you satisfied with the dollar amounts Komen allocates for research?
Do you feel Komen offers too little support for those living with mets?
Do you believe an important part of the news story was omitted here?