Short answer: not really. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure the pink ribbons, pink uniforms, bumper stickers, and no-bra days have “raised awareness” about breast cancer. The question is, has it actually done anything to reduce breast cancer deaths? At least according to Laurie Becklund, a journalist who died of breast cancer last year, Breast Cancer Awareness has done little but raise money for breast cancer awareness organizations, the largest of which is the Susan G. Komen Foundation. In her own words:
Promise me you’ll never wear a pink ribbon in my name or drop a dollar into a bucket that goes to breast cancer “awareness” for “early detection for a cure,” the mantra of fund-raising juggernaut Susan G. Komen, which has propagated a distorted message about breast cancer and how to “cure” it.
I’m proof that early detection doesn’t cure cancer. I had more than 20 mammograms, and none of them caught my disease. In fact, we now have significant studies showing that routine mammogram screening, which may result in misdiagnoses, unnecessary treatment and radiation overexposure, can harm more people than it helps.
The only kind of cancer that kills can’t be stopped by early detection. Like so many charities, Susan G. Komen may have good intentions at some level, but they are driven mainly by survival instinct. It’s something I think about a lot concerning any charity dedicated to a “cure.” It’s not that hard to figure out really: they have a financial incentive not to find a cure. They have to do just enough to make their cause compelling but they can’t and won’t succeed. Success would be financial suicide for the Susan G. Komen Foundation:
Susan G. Komen . . . has raised $2.5 billion over the last 20 years, much more than many corporations will ever earn. Yet Komen channels only a fraction of those funds into research or systems to help those who are already seriously sick. Most of that money continues to go to a breast cancer “awareness” campaign that is now painfully out of date.
So, in honor of Becklund, I won’t wear pink unless I feel like it (“Salmon! Salmon. That’s obviously salmon.”), and I’ll give my money to people who are actually “for the cure.”