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Nancy Brinker Made Me Do It!

I told myself I was done with the Susan G. Komen® foundation. I didn’t really want to write about this organization any more. I’ve said my piece time and time again it seems. A few of my Komen piece links are included at the end of this one in case you want to read them. I don’t blame you if you don’t; topic Komen can be more than a bit “fatiguing”…

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone, as has yet another Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® event at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota; and here I am feeling compelled to write about it once again.

Before going any further, it’s important to acknowledge, that my “beef” with this organization is not with the walkers/racers. It is not with the local chapters themselves. It is not with the hard working individuals on the ground doing the work and raising the money.

It’s with the leadership at the top – the very top.

For the past three Mother’s Days when I watched the evening news covering this now traditional Mother’s Day event, I have found myself becoming more and more annoyed by all that smiling being done by the news anchors as they reported on this now annual make-you-feel-good event of the day.

All that smiling only adds to the confusion and the misleading, which I’m getting to…

This year I finally realized I feel so aggravated by this annual event and all that smiling because for me, it feels like a double exploitation. I not only feel as if the disease of breast cancer has been exploited here, I also feel as if Mother’s Day has been as well. When I think of breast cancer and the fact that I no longer have a mother on Mother’s Day because of breast cancer, I don’t feel like smiling. And when I think of Susan G. Komen®, I do not feel like smiling. Instead, it feels more like Komen is rubbing salt in my wounds.

The reason I decided to go ahead with this particular post on this topic is because Nancy Brinker “made me do it.”

As many of you know already, recently it was announced all over social media and elsewhere that Nancy Brinker received a 64% pay increase; must be nice, right?

Three words immediately popped into my mind as I started writing this piece – arrogance, misleading and out-of-touch.

Allow me to elaborate just a bit.

Arrogance

It’s beyond my comprehension how Ms. Brinker could even contemplate giving herself a raise at all this year, much less such a huge one. Generally, big raises are given for stellar, or at least good, performance. Does she not remember the Planned Parenthood fiasco? Does she not read about the declining number of participants in Komen events? Does she not pay attention to social media chatter about dissatisfaction with her organization? Does she not care how this looks? And wasn’t she supposed to have resigned from her CEO position last year anyway?

Here’s a good visual from The Sarcastic Boob about the 64%. It says a lot doesn’t it?

If I were Ms. Brinker, I’d be lying low and definitely not raising my own salary. This blatant disregard for shifting public sentiment, smacks of arrogance in my book. What else could explain it?

Misleading

Some information which Komen has used and continues to use/promote is just that – misleading. This organization seems to cling to over simplified and therefore sometimes misleading information. Here is an earlier well-written piece, The real scandal:  science denialism at Susan G. Kome for the Cure®. It caused quite a stir. Follow the trail to this follow-up piece called, Susan G. Komen (for the Cure) Still Overselling Mammography.

In case you missed it, author Peggy Orenstein has written an in-depth must-read piece about the failings of Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer. 

The bottom line here is when you are the leading (self-proclaimed) breast cancer charitable organization, shouldn’t one of your primary goals be embracing and then sharing the latest proven scientific data/information?

Out-of-touch

When you think about it, this one goes hand in hand with the other two doesn’t it? The Komen organization appears to be out-of-touch with what most people really expect (and maybe think they’re presently getting) from the leading (again, self-proclaimed) charitable breast cancer organization out there.

What do most people want?

It’s really pretty simple IMO.

They’d like to see this organization make an entrance into the twenty-first century, offer more inclusiveness regarding the metastatic and inflammatory breast cancer communities and come up with a more balanced (more dollars for research) fiscal pie chart.

Here’s an analysis by fellow blogger Knot Telling about how that pie is presently divvied up. Do click here to take a look.

The fiscal pie issue really all boils down to one simple question.

When an organization is (or is it was?) supposedly all about cure, which will only come through research, is 80% of the money raked in being spent on other stuff acceptable?

I don’t think so.

What about you?

Okay, now I’m done. Again.

Important Note:  Interestingly, Susan G. Komen no longer refers to itself as Susan G. Komen for the Cure® on its site’s home page. (The “for the Cure” part has been removed). However, elsewhere it still does. Does this organization want it both ways?

In case you’re up to reading more:

Are We Really Racing for a Cure?

It’s Just A Little Bottle of Perfume, Or Is It?

Komen & Change At the Top, Is It All About Timing?

No More Apoligies

Rumblings & Grumbling, My Response to Ms. Brinker

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Planned Parenthood and A Tidal Wave

How do you feel about all these races, especially the ones taking place on Mother’s Day?

What charitable breast cancer organizations do you support?

 

 

18 thoughts to “Nancy Brinker Made Me Do It!”

  1. The way you address misinformation about BC is one of the (many) things that made me fall in love w/this blog. This entry was super well written and right on. THANK you for all you say & do!!! I’m off to explore some of those links 🙂

  2. “Before going any further, it’s important to acknowledge, that my “beef” with this organization is not with the walkers/racers. It is not with the local chapters themselves. It is not with the hard working individuals on the ground doing the work and raising the money.

    It’s with the leadership at the top – the very top.”

    Exactly.

    Well said, Nancy. (And thanks for linking to my post.)

    1. Knot Telling, Thanks so much for writing that post about the dismal amount of dollars earmarked for research. That pie chart says an awful lot about this foundation doesn’t it? Thanks for commenting too.

  3. You rock Nancy! SGK has become full of Arrogant, Misleading, Out-of-Touch leaders…. Thank you for your well stated words! Nancy made me do it – indeed she did!

  4. Very well said, indeed. I’ve had fits and starts in writing anything about Brinker so I resorted to meme making.

    How do I say this? Brigette Spence, who Komen utilized as the face of stage iv BC, passed away–yet her photograph still appears on the Komen website. I know that Ms. Spence was very supportive of Komen, as was her prerogative of course, but Komen is actually using the photograph of a woman now deceased as their poster child for stage iv BC?

    There is so much wrong with that organization. I think, though, that the the conversation is turning. It’s not happening overnight. It’s not a dramatic shift. But it’s slow, steady, and persistent.

    1. Scorchy, Yes, I heard that Brigette passsed away and I know about that particular ad. I didn’t realize it’s still out there though… I’ve been telling myself that the conversation is shifting, but boy, it’s shifting slowly. When I watched the news the other night, I just sighed. I wouldn’t mind the coverage if they’d also talk about some of this other stuff too… it’s all so one-sided. I have been loving your memes! Thanks for sharing your Komen thoughts.

  5. As always Nancy, you say exactly what I’m thinking…only more eloquently. As founder of my own non-profit(pinkdaisyproject.com), I’ve tried hard to stay neutral in social media. I don’t want to alienate any potential donors. But the fact that I work so hard nights and weekends while holding down a regular (paying) job just to scrape up a few dollars each month to women living with breast cancer…well, it makes me steaming mad! Our girls can’t wait for a would-be cure that may or may not ever come to fruition. They need help now. Today. So I do all I can to keep my younger sisters (under 45 with the additional burden of caring for small children) with food on their table, gas in their cars and much needed prescriptions filled…then see Nancy Brinker take a huge unearned raise while I live paycheck-to-paycheck…it’s hard to see donors and corporations give millions to SGK. It’s survival of the biggest…and small groups like mine who IMHO are more deserving go unnoticed and underfunded. So wrong. So sad for my girls.

    1. Debbie, Thank you for your kind words and more importantly thank you for the wonderful work you are doing. It’s so important. I hear you loud and clear regarding Ms. Brinker’s big raise. I think she really is out-of-touch. I appreciate your comments.

  6. Many of the points you address Nancy are the reasons I created consano.org to directly fund specific medical research projects. 100% of donations (less those rascally PayPal fees) go to the project the donor specifies. We are all about transparency, directability and connection, which was what I was looking for in medical research philanthropy after my BC dx in 2011 at 32.

    1. Molly, Good for your for creating your organization. It’s only through research that we will find answers and allowing donors to specify what projects they can direct their donations to is fabulous. Komen should take some lessons from you. Thanks so much for sharing. Hope you are doing well since your diagnosis.

  7. Nancy,

    This is an excellent, first-rate post on an important topic. I would add another word: GREED. That’s why Brinker has such a hefty raise. Why else would she go ahead with getting the raise?

    You raise insightful points.

    In terms of these races and pink hoopla, I have pink fatigue and race fatigue. These events are always around special days, and I sense exploitation, as you do, of the disease and Mother’s Day. I want to enjoy Mother’s Day, not watch a bunch of smiling people talking about triumph.

    Also, I’m glad there’s no Sister’s Day, Aunt’s Day, etc. There would be more such events on those days as well. I would guarantee it.

    1. Beth, I think many might agree with you about that word ‘greed’. I know what you mean about the pink fatigue. This year it really hit me how this particular race exploits Mother’s Day, for me personally anyway. And the news people, they were just oozing pink and smiles, without ever mentioning the fact that last year’s numbers were down, why that might be and the amount of dollars actually earmarked for research. Much is left out of the story year after year.

  8. I have never participated in any races, fund raising pink crap campaigns or fund small organizations or large ones for that matter. I do donate however I donate directly to where I know the money is going. To the research facility that I feel will best distribute what I donate even if it is a small donation, 100% goes to research. I have been critisized , ostrasized yelled at jeered at because I refuse to take part in Pink activities. If I do for one then there is an obligation to do for others. I applaud those who try and make the effort by starting their own campaigns but I have been burned when donating therefore leery. From the time Mother’s Day is announced directly till October my inbox is filled with donations needed, or wanting me to assign a page for their publicity purposes on my blog.. I will thank them however that is as far as it will go. WE have to keep reminding people Breast Cancer is not a party It is not a celebration It is not a gift. It is a disease that kills continues to kill and will continue on this destructive path till our politicians our doctors nurses everyone involved in health care really take this disease with the seriousness we are entitled to.
    Luckily Canada doesn’t have a lot to do with Komen but it so reminds me of the caption under Nixon with Ms Brinker getting this hefty raise “I am Not A Crook” Then just what in hell are you Ms Brinker? If not that then a liar for sure!!

    Love Alli…..xx

    1. Alli, Thanks for your thoughts. I love your comment about Nixon, that’s a real gem! It’s nice Canada is not so Komen obsessed. Count your blessings on that regard. Good for you for donating to campaigns and organizations that fit with your values. I think too many people are completely unaware about the less than 20% Komen spends on research. Thanks for adding to this discussion, Alli.

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