The Real Enemy: Breast Cancer

I was inspired to start this whole blog after my mother-in-law and dear friend, Sue, died from breast cancer a year ago. Sue was integrally involved with the 3 Day Walk for the Cure as a fund-raiser, speaker, crew member, and walker. (Once she even walked 60 miles on chemo for the cause.) Given Sue’s close ties to the organization, I feel obligated to speak up. If Sue was here, she would speak up.

Last week there was obviously a lot of angry chatter toward the Susan G. Komen organization, due to its plans to sever ties with Planned Parenthood. Since then they’ve recanted.

I would like to remind everyone of what else Komen has done:

  • Invested nearly $1.9 billion in breast cancer research, education, and community programs.
  • Contributed to nearly every major advancement in the fight against breast cancer in the last 30 years.
  • Helped increase the 5-year survival rate from 74% – 98% for breast cancer diagnosed before it spread beyond the breast.
  • Helped increased the number of women over age 40 who get regular mammograms from 30% – 75%.
  • Helped make breast cancer survivors the largest group of cancer survivors today (more than 2.5 million).
  • Provided valuable breast cancer education and outreach to women in more than 200 countries.

The money Komen threatened to pull from Planned Parenthood was intended for breast cancer screenings for women who couldn’t otherwise afford it. That caused pro-choice people to pull donations from Komen. And back when Komen was contributing to Planned Parenthood—and now that they will again—devout Christians are refusing to contribute.

Both sides need to realize that, either way the pendulum swings, women will suffer that Komen could’ve otherwise helped with those funds. And the family and friends who love and support those women will suffer, too.

Breast cancer knows no right, left, good, bad, fair, or unfair. All of us will know someone who gets this disease, and many of us will know someone who dies of it. I’m not saying this for shock value or to change your political views or to ruin your day. I’m saying this because these are the facts:

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer among U.S. women.
  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths.
  • It’s estimated that more than 10-million women around the world will die from breast cancer in the next 25 years.

Given Komen’s track record of affecting change thus far, I still believe it’s one of our best hopes in finding a cure. Sure, it’s not perfect. We could never all agree on one organization that is. But we can all agree on this: Breast cancer sucks, too many women are dying from it, and we need a cure. Fast.

By all means, make your voice heard to Komen management, your politicians, and Planned Parenthood if you so choose. All I ask is, if someone walking or running for a loved one reaches out to you, please don’t let politics keep you from supporting them. At the heart of Komen are the millions of daughters, sons, mothers, sisters, husbands, and friends who are grieving and participating in a Komen fund-raising event as an act of support and love. At the heart of Komen are fighters, like Sue, who participate to empower themselves and make a difference for future women. At the heart of Komen is “Nan,” a woman in mourning who has dedicated her life to eradicating the killer of her sister Suzy and millions of others:


That is the real villain at the heart of this story. Let’s not allow our differences to distract us from that. We all need a cure.

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