Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Weighing in on Komen

I have to comment on the Susan G. Komen fiasco. I debated with myself whether to say anything. This isn't a political blog, but I am so tired of the divisive politics in this country. What happens is the most disadvantaged people get hurt. They are the ones who suffer the collateral damage of nasty politicking.

I care about cancer. I care about what it does to people's lives. And I care about the fact that there are millions of people in this country who cannot afford to protect themselves from being diagnosed with these diseases at a point where treatment is less effective, more costly, and more devastating.

I've never been much of pink ribbon fan. I'm the kind of person who, if I see a lot of people doing something, I am going to do something different. If everybody's doing it, I won't. I'm not a rah-rah flag waver or a magnetic ribbon wielder. You won't see me wearing pink or participating in events like Race for the Cure. I have no objection to other people doing it, as it has supported good causes. It's just that, I prefer to support these things in a different way, my own way.

Personally, I support all sorts of cancer research, support, and screening, for men and women. Men and women are affected breast cancer. But there's more than just breast cancer that deserves attention and money. When I see pink-wrapped candy and other garbage being sold in support of breast cancer, it turns my stomach. What message does that send? That gluttony is acceptable, as long as it's for a cause?

Susan G. Komen screwed up. Maybe they can save face, maybe they can come clean and pull themselves out of the toilet, but I wonder if public trust will ever be restored in this organization.

Our health care system is broken, along with our economic, taxation, political and legal systems. We need leaders who can work with each other for SOLUTIONS despite their ideologies. We all need to let go of our death grips on how we think things MUST BE and start working toward changing WHAT IS. Because WHAT IS is not working.

Unless, of course, you have endless buttloads of money and zero social conscience, then it suits you perfectly.

Fortunately many wealthy people do have a social conscience, but it sure seems these days that they are outnumbered and outpowered by those who don't feel any obligation to their fellow human beings who share this planet. I believe we all end up in the same place. And I also believe that no one greets you at the pearly gates to let you in preferentially just because you made more money than someone else.

Isn't it time we evolved as a society? This isn't the wild west anymore. We have over 300 million people to take care of.

We all have seen the civil rights movement, the womens' movement, the ongoing battle for gay rights. None of these movements are finished, there remains work to be done on all these fronts. The disparity of wealth, power, and resources is sparking a movement too. We need to change the way things are done. It's incremental, and it takes generations. Things don't happen without a lot of resistance and bloodshed by the powers-that-be.

That's where we're headed, folks. It's only a matter of time. When it hurts more to avoid action than it does to take action, things will change. We're getting awfully close.


mike_hinterberg said...

Thanks Alene, I appreciate your honest insight, especially with your direct work as an oncology nurse and support of the Cancer Center. It really seems like people close to direct care understand the barriers and possible paths forward. It's clear that general health and wellness is protective against both morbidity and mortality of many types of cancer, which is why we really want to encourage people to *join* us in running (or whatever their passion is), in addition to eating healthy, rather than buying something or giving money for someone else to go running.

I totally support the historic and ongoing efforts to provide awareness and open discussion of breast cancer specifically, and I can only begin to imagine the real physical and psychological affects that may accompany a disease whose treatments may be manifested outwardly. Breast cancer has both easy/cheap and advanced techniques for diagnosis, and it's important to make the knowledge and technology accessible, as you said.

But I also agree that *cures* are likely to be found by studying *all* cancers. In my world of research, I'm only barely able to grasp some of the current research, but it's clear that, with a functional health care system (access, regular preventive medicine, and electronic health records with readable/consistent databases), along with sufficient funding for basic sciences research (I can assure anyone that a post-doc cancer researcher may be paid less than a school teacher of the same age), we could make much larger strides towards finding better treatments and possible cures.

Alene Gone Bad said...

Thanks for your insightful comments Mike. Actually, reading your post today made me want to write this blogpost, so thank you for the inspiration. Exercise, proper nutrition, and overall wellness, not just physical health but overall well-bring and stress reduction, are the keys to reeling in our out-of-control lives and the health care costs associated with not prioritizing those behaviors. And our priorities are all messed up regarding how we value different types of work. Human services deserve much greater compensation than they get. I could go on and on, but you get the drift. We are ultimately responsible for our circumstances, and if we don't take action, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Feisty Cat said...

Hi Alene,

Strong words, written with conviction; I love it. I, too, am struggling with this information. Having worked for a local, non-profit cancer organization, I've often wondered if bigger is necessarily better when it comes to fundraising and outreach. Are we helping the folks who need it the most? Where is my money going? These are the questions I ask myself.

That said, I think that with organizations such as Susan B. Komen, it is easy to donate, easy to participate, easy to make yourself feel good about all of these things.

I choose to support local organizations; the ones I know are not discriminating based on politics, sex, race, or any other socio-economic criteria.

In the end, it is up to each one of us to do our parts, whether volunteering or giving money or spending time with someone who is ill.

Thanks for speaking up. It's like you were reading my mind.

--Feisty Cat

Alene Gone Bad said...

Thanks for your comments, Feisty Cat, I agree it is hard when a charitable organization gets so big, to know if the donations you give are helping the people in need or going in the pockets of higher ups in the organization or toward massive administrative costs.

I have always been skeptical of Komen, all the pink stuff. The whole pink materialism aspect of it turns me off completely. I often wonder what statement people are making when they place the pink stuff in visible places. I am sure there are many people with entirely good intentions, but it always makes me wonder anyway... I think sometimes we are more effective at working on a smaller scale, in our own communities, or even with individuals.

It is up to each of us to find the place where we are comfortable in giving or in service to others.

I think in our society, being true to yourself and listening to your own gut and heart are underrrated, probably because so many of us are so distracted.