Think Before You Pink

My name is Patti and I am a breast cancer survivor!  Here is my story:

In August 2008 and I went for my annual mammogram, it came back suspicious.  I went back in September for a second look and that is when they decided that I needed a biopsy, it was scheduled for the last Monday in September.  I was 43 years old, too young to have breast cancer!! On October 8, 2008 I called my parents to let them know what was going on.  It was during this call that my mother let me know that on October 3, 2008 she was diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts.  I fell apart!  The next day I called my breast surgeon to let her know about my mother and her exact words were, “Patti, I hate to have to tell you this but you have high grade invasive breast cancer in your right breast.”  Yes, you read that right; my mother and I were diagnosed 6 days apart.  For the next several weeks, mom and I kept each other updated through weekly phone calls and emails; we lived about 4 hours away from each other.  So we were fighting this battle together yet apart.  Mom’s diagnosis was much worse than mine, 12 rounds of chemo then a bi-lateral mastectomy.  I decided to be tested for the “breast cancer gene” since I had already lost my paternal grandmother and several maternal great-aunts to this disease.  The results came back, I had the BRCA1 gene.  I called mom and she decided to get tested; her results were negative.  Thanks Dad!  At that point, I decided for a bi-lateral mastectomy, I didn’t want to fight this battle again in a few years; I have a son I wanted to live for.  November 14, 2008 the “girls” were gone.  On November 20, 2008 I got the “cancer is gone” call from my doctor.  April 27, 2009 my reconstruction was performed.  Mom was still undergoing her chemo and her surgery was scheduled for after the first of the year.  After her surgery, her oncologist decided that radiation would be necessary.  She took all the treatments and always gave glory to God for her toleration of all the treatments and her healing.  In July 2009 she was told that her latest body scan was “clean”.  Then September came and things took a turn for the worse.  She was having headaches, slurred speech and balance issues.  Her doctor ordered another MRI to determine what the cause was.  The cause was the cancer had metastasized in her brain, liver and lungs.  Mom lost her battle on her 67th birthday, September 10, 2009, nine days before their 45th wedding anniversary.  I had one more surgery November 17, 2009 I had a hysterectomy and oophorectomy to prevent ovarian cancer because of my BRCA1 gene.  All this over a 13 month period!

As a breast cancer survivor, I have a love/hate relationship with the month of October and the ever growing presence of pink ribbon merchandise.  Honestly, before I was diagnosed, I was all about buying anything and everything that had a pink ribbon on it because I believed that all of these companies had their hearts in the right place and were really donating money to the cause of breast cancer research.  I did 7 Susan B. Komen 3 Day Walks and raised over $40,000 for this organization.  Then I heard a disturbing report that said that Komen only donates a small fraction of the funds raised to actual research.  I started to research things on my own and found this report was true.  Only about 16 cents of every dollar raised goes to research, the rest goes to overhead and to pay the astronomical salaries of the higher ups in this organization.  Nancy Brinker as CEO made well over $500,000 even after she resigned the position.  This has finally stopped but there are still some very high salaries paid there.  I also learned that Komen was suing smaller organizations for using “For the Cure”.  Aren’t we all in this to find a cure??

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Don’t get me wrong, I am positive that I am still here today because of the funding from Komen when they first began the organization.  They have lost their vision over the years and that can be seen in the law suits over using “For the Cure”.

There are other companies out there that slap a pink ribbon on their products and say a portion of this sale is going to research.  This is great except that most of the time that portion is a fraction of a penny for each item sold.  It is a marketing ploy that pulls at the heartstrings of people because so many of us have been affected by this horrible disease.

My point in all of this is, PLEASE do your research before you donate to ANY charity!  There is a great website www.charitynavigator.org that will give the statistics for most major charities.  For now, I have turned my donations towards the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Together, we can find a cure for this horrible disease that has taken so many and so much from too many people everywhere!!!

2 Comments

  1. Patti, thank you for sharing both your and your Mom’s stories. I’m so sorry for your loss. My mom was also a beast cancer survivor at age 53 in 1985. She went all out afterwards in support of Komen. Worked tirelessly until she found the same facts that you’ve stated here. We no longer contribute to charitable organizations unless they are local, vouched for or on the list you linked. I trust that we will find a cure for all cancers, and tomorrow couldn’t be too soon.

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