Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Hypnotically Pink for the Cure (1488505615)

Image via Wikipedia

Last week’s uproar over the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s anti-choice antics led me to want to know more about the young woman for whom the breast cancer awareness behemoth is named. But after  a couple of days of Googling, it became clear that after 32 years, poor Suzy Komen is little more than a name on corporate letterhead. Her story is forever lost, filtered through her sister, Nancy Brinker’s, perceptions of the events and how she has decided that the story of the real Susan Komen should be presented.

If you google Susan G. Komen, you will be rewarded with links that speak only of the foundation. Aside from Brinker’s memoir, which is really more about her than her sister, precious little information on Suzy Komen exists.

The poor thing doesn’t even have her own Wikipedia entry. Her namesake fundraising corportion, however, does and so, unsurprisingly, does her sister, Nancy.

One thing I did find, and it’s also not a shock because the Internet is stuffed with all manner of griefy culture things, was a picture of Suzy’s grave. And it immediately occurred to me after reading the inscription that Suzy isn’t the only one left out in cold as far as her story goes. So was her husband.

She is listed as daughter, mother and sister. Presumably the children had a father so at some point, she was a wife. Why isn’t that mentioned? A quick peek at the “official” Komen Foundation historical record on her mentions a husband, Stan, her high school sweetheart, but then it drones on with barely a mention of him or their two children again. Judging from the Foundation’s biography of Suzy, the only people who truly counted in her life were her parents and, of course, her sister.

Knowing what I do about the widow world and the odd notions that extended family and the non-widowed have about the whole “til do you part” and the general scorn there is for widowed who move on at an “unseemly” pace, I came to three possible conclusions.

Stan Komen, Suzy’s husband:

  1. bailed on her while she was ill and therefore earned his exile.
  2. remarried too soon for her family’s liking
  3. doesn’t care much for the happy, happy, joy, joy Disney Princess pink face that Komen’s spin has slathered all over the disease that killed his wife and so he declines to be a part of it.

Stan Komen owned a wine and spirits store in Peoria, Illinois. He still does. You can google him and it. I even found a few news articles that refer to him as a successful business owner and a person who offers advice to others in his industry. There is no mention of a second marriage, but I would guess he has moved on. He was a young man with young children, and it’s doubtful that he remained single (though I wouldn’t rule it out).

But no explanation of his, or his children’s, absence from the Pink juggernaut’s publicity machine. Cuz, let’s be real, run, walk , jump and knit bras for the cure owes its existence to bereaved spouses, children and extended family and friends.  Widowed who involve themselves in the cause to eliminate what killed their spouses is cliché.

So, did he piss his in-law’s off while his wife lay dying?

“A lot of guys bugger off when their wives fall ill,” Rob reminded me.

And that is true. Breast cancer victims especially find themselves alone quite often although I bet the reverse isn’t true with men who find themselves physically altered by prostate cancer.

However, I managed to find a preview of Nancy Brinker’s book about … herself mostly … and the origins of the foundation via Google books. According to Nancy, her brother-in-law was pretty much a Hollywood stereotype of devotion and sacrifice during his wife’s illness. He loved her very much and was devastated by her death.

Colour me confused then by his absence from his wife’s final legacy on the place where she rests. Even if he did remarry that doesn’t make her less of a wife to him. That was part of who she was and should be included regardless of what he moved on to.

I found the whole thing rather sad. Suzy asked her sister to “find a cure” for the disease that killed her. Komen donates very little really to research. The bulk of what they collect from the husbands, children, family and friends of women dead or dying is funneled to pay salaries of Komen employees (Nancy herself makes over $400 thousand a year as CEO) or is used to lobby Congress on behalf of insurance pharmaceutical companies or promote Pink ribbon products that often contain chemicals that are thought/known to cause breast cancer and to promote events to promote breast cancer “awareness”.

The last is funny because women in North America are so aware of breast cancer that they don’t know that they are actually more likely to die of cardiovascular disease. Fear-mongering has paid off so well for Komen that the latest research on the  risks of overscreening via mammograms are ignored or treated like junk science.

Suzy would be proud, I am sure, of the fact that 32 years after her sister promised to find a cure for breast cancer, a woman with stage four of the disease has nearly an identical survival rate as she would have had 50 years ago.

I am still left wondering who Suzy and Stan Komen were. Her silence on last week’s events and her sister’s efforts over the last three decades is understandable given that she is dead and all, but his? Telling? Maybe.

English: pink ribbon

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday the Komen Foundation, they who pinked the world and infantilized women and a serious disease in the name of raising money to help women, announced that they would no longer give grant money to Planned Parenthood, an organization that does actual good for women in terms of empowering them and providing much-needed access to reproductive health care.

Why? Because Komen is a business. Their business is making money off breast cancer, which shouldn’t really come as a shock. The reason for their decision stems from a new policy that prohibits them from funding organizations that are under investigation by local, state or federal authorities. Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation to see whether they are using federal money to provide abortions. It’s a groundless investigate instigated by Rep. Cliff Sterns (R-FL).

Essentially it means that Planned Parenthood uses Komen’s grants to provide mammograms and other breast care related health services to women who have no health insurance. That’s 170,000 clinical breast exams and 6,400 mammograms a year lost because Komen needs to pander to the GOP more than it actually cares about women’s breast health.

I am not a fan of the Pink Ones. They’ve spread a lot of misinformation about what mammograms and clinical screenings can and can’t do for women. They’ve trivialized breast cancer with some of their cutesy campaigns and many of the companies who sell pink ribbon products are peddling products with known carcinogens that have been linked to breast cancer.

I am on record despising pink ribbons and tit month. Pink is a baby colour and pink washing the world has enriched the portfolios of CEO’s and their investors a lot more than it has helped women in general.

What is most infuriating about Komen’s pandering cowardice is that an organization that claims to have women’s health at its heart is aiding the systematic, mean-spirited war on women that is one of the GOP’s and religious right’s core objectives.

My hometown of Dubuque, Iowa has never allowed a Planned Parenthood clinic to set up shop. Despite the fact that the nearest women’s health care for the working poor is 90 miles south, the good citizens of Dubuque consistently rally around an old geezer who spreads lies with the help of the Catholic Church every time PP has attempted to open a clinic.

I don’t know the gentlemen in question personally, but I know where he lives. Nearly everyone on the westside does because his back yard backs up to a main artery and in it sits a giant billboard vilifying Planned Parenthood. I have never been in Dubuque during one of the all out assaults on Planned Parenthood, but if I ever am, that old bastard will rue the day. He’s like every other mindless automaton in my hometown who equates clinics for women with sex and adheres to his Catholic brainwashing on the subject and has no trouble with the classism and racism that also drives the crusade. I love my hometown in a lot of ways, but I am not blind to the racism. It drives a lot of policy and politic and though it isn’t as bad as it was when I was growing up – the evil persists.

If you are interested in helping Planned Parenthood, click this link. And if you want to get the word out about the Komen Foundation throwing poor women under the bus of convenience, share this post or any of the links below via your Facebook or Twitter or other social media accounts.

Komen can do whatever it likes, of course, but it should be made to own this decision as publicly and as often as possible. It’s time to sink the pink.

Australia Day Fireworks

Image by Sam Ilić via Flickr

Top tenning is THE new year eve’s week thing to do in the blogosphere.  Mostly because bloggers need vacation time too.

Thanks to the wonderful tech team at WordPress’s need to constantly justify their paychecks, I have a plethora of data aggregating goodies to help keep track of posts by popularity.

So here are the top ten posts by page views at anniegirl1138 for the year we are about to bid adieu:

10) Brad Pitt shaved the scraggly thing off months ago, but it lives on in my post about goatees and dead husbands.

9) Though I’ve successfully steered my daughter away from the cash-grabbing universe of “dance” studios, my contempt remains. Remember the Single Ladies? 9 year olds hoochie dancing for the dirty old men who troll the Internet?

8) Although I wrote this ages ago and it’s true intent has been repeatedly misunderstood, Angelina’s non-weight problems continues to be a big draw.

7) Another oldie but goldie, Lisa Parker still pulls readers and comments.

6) It’s hardly the only Facebook Meme worthy of scorn (I ignored the equally awful Movember Movement), but breast cancer awareness meme’s, and pink ‘s co-option by Susan Komen for that matter, sparked a rant that people read.

5) Jennifer Petkov was another post that missed its mark but certainly got read.

4) I’d originally planned to write this for Care2, or maybe I did and it got rejected, regardless, young and dumb in America was a huge hit.

3) Jillian Michaels is a poor role model and apparently I am not the only one who thinks so.

2) Musing on my life of plenty.

1) And the biggest post of the year? Women with no basic understanding of dressing for body type.

“You know,” my husband observed as he glanced through this list, “not one of these posts is about your family … or me.”

“Can you believe that? ” I said, “No one wants to read about you guys.”

“I am dismayed, disappointed and disgusted, ” he replied, ” but not surprised.”

Nor am I.  My best stuff is usually not the most popular, but that is the bane of all bloggers.

I hope you enjoyed the year’s effort and will continue to read in the new year.