Saturday, February 4, 2012

Behind the Pink Curtain - Komen's Political Agenda, and more

Pokey Anderson is a staffer and programer at Pacifica's Houston radio station KPFT.  Great station, with a decidedly southern exposure.  I regularly listen on-line to their Saturday music programs, from Cajun/Zydeco to Country and Blues.  Primo.   
From: []
Sent: Friday, February 03, 2012 1:14 PM
Subject: Re: Susan G. Komen Reverses Planned Parenthood Decision

Don't know if you want to pick and choose any of this stuff, but basically, Komen has, if you read these, long been more interested in lobbying (in some cases AGAINST patients) and in their own brand than in the health of all women.  And, more interested in screening for cancer than in stopping cancer, especially if that might involve looking at cleaning up the environment.
Komen not political?  Founder Nancy Brinker and her former husband were Bush pioneers, and she was appointed to two positions in the GW Bush administration.

Behind the Pink Curtain - Komen's Political Agenda
Daily Kos

In 2000, when I first became a breast cancer activist, one of my first assignments was contacting the senators and members of Congress in my area to encourage their support for the Breast & Cervical Cancer Prevention & Treatment Act. The bill was to provide Medicaid coverage for uninsured women diagnosed through the Breast & Cervical Cancer Prevention & Screening Act, which had been passed several years earlier. IOW, the Treatment Act was necessary because uninsured women were getting no-cost breast cancer diagnosis, but still had no means to pay for treatment.

Sounds easy, right? You screen and diagnose them, you have to help them get treatment. Except one of my GOP senators didn't see it that way, and he had another breast cancer group who agreed with him....
Upon calling my GOP senator and speaking with his aide, I was shocked to hear her tell me "Sen.__ can't sign on as a co-sponsor to the bill because all the breast cancer groups aren't in agreement on it." Shocked, I asked her who was opposing it. She told me that Komen opposed the bill. When I asked her why, she explained that Komen felt that treatment for uninsured breast cancer patients should be funded through private donations, like the pink ribbon race. I was speechless, in shock. A phone call to another activist confirmed it was true - Komen was lobbying behind the scenes to kill the bill. A moment later, Sen.__'s aide called me back and begged me not to repeat our conversation to anyone, that she had given me the information by mistake.

Thus my lesson about Komen began in 2000. They spend a lot of money lobbying for a very different agenda.The bill passed anyway and Bill Clinton, who pushed hard in Congress for its passage, was happy to sign it. Unfortunately, it wasn't the end of Komen (and its founder, Nancy Brinker's) political maneuvering to stall or kill legislation in Congress and in state legislatures that was supported by other breast cancer advocacy groups.They fought behind the scenes in my state to prevent the governor from adopting the Treatment Program. They worked for several years to stall or kill the Breast Cancer & Environmental Research Act. In the end, they eviscerated it by removing new funding for environmental research and substituting a panel to review all research on breast cancer & environment.


The Marketing of Breast Cancer
The Komen Foundation, creator of the 110-city Race for the Cure, is tied up in private interests that run counter to its charity-driven mission.

Southern Exposure
By Mary Ann Swissler
September 16, 2002

Judy Brady has little use for the limelight. Yet, as someone with a lot on her mind, she has much to say about what she terms "the marketing of breast cancer." One of the worst examples, she says, is the Dallas-based Susan G. Komen Foundation and its annual fundraiser, the 5K Race for the Cure.
Now held year-round in 110 U.S. cities and abroad, the festivities offend Brady and the group Toxic Links Coalition. The races, they say, merely focus women on finding a medical cure for breast cancer, and away from environmental conditions causing it, the problems of the uninsured, and political influence of corporations over the average patient.

To drive this point home, Brady and the coalition have, since 1994, helped organize a vocal and visible presence most years at Komen's San Francisco race.


"What's missing is the truth," wrote Brady in a Spring 2001 newsletter article for the Women's Cancer Resource Center, a support services center located in Berkeley, Calif. "There's no talk about prevention, except, in terms of lifestyle, your diet for instance. No talk about ways to grow food more safely. No talk about how to curb industrial carcinogens. No talk about contaminated water or global warming."

more, long piece
"Any corporate ties to a cancer-related industry raises huge credibility issues for a group that is trying to influence public policy," says Sharon Batt, author of a seminal book on the movement, "Patient No More: The Politics of Breast Cancer," and current Chair of Women's Health and the Environment at Canada's Dalhousie University.
"Sitting on corporate boards and organizations that have vested interests in cancer policies is an even higher level of conflict than taking funds: a board member is expected to promote the interests of that corporation," said Batt, who also spoke against tamoxifen at the 1998 FDA hearing.
"Even the NBCC takes money from the pharmaceutical industry, but I doubt (its leaders) sit on corporate boards," a fact confirmed by an NBCC spokeswoman in a recent interview.
San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Action goes one step farther, refusing all donations from corporations that make money off breast cancer such as pharmaceutical companies, tobacco and pesticide manufacturers, and cancer treatment facilities. BCA also launched a campaign to expose similar sponsorship ties inherent in the Avon cosmetic company's fund raising run.
Explained BCA's executive director Barbara Brenner, "With the growing effort by corporations to look like 'good guys' by supporting cancer organizations, it is difficult, if not impossible, to know whether an advocacy organization's positions are based on well thought out policies or on who's paying the bills."
Batt finds Brinker "eerily reminiscent" of an earlier so-called cancer activist, Mary Lasker. "Her husband, the advertising executive Albert Lasker, created the famous cigarette ad, 'Reach for a Lucky Instead of a Sweet.' In the 1940s through the 1960s, Lasker used her business and social connections to transform the American Cancer Society from a small, local charity into the world's richest, most powerful health charity. The ACS became a voice for policies that have made cancer research and early detection into lucrative business ventures with little connection to the welfare of patients or to breast cancer prevention. The Komen Foundation is a reincarnation of the ACS, but specific to breast cancer."
Batt said that one of the dangers of Komen's success is that only messages that don't threaten or embarrass corporations or the Republican Party, get through to the media and Congress.
During the 1990s for example, she said, the NBCC and smaller organizations may have convinced the National Cancer Institute and other government policy makers to begin addressing the health concerns of a more diverse group of women: ethnic minorities, lesbians and the poor. But the power brokers in government and the corporate world still listen most readily to the messages publicized by the high-profile Race for the Cure or, another corporate and Komen darling, the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month each October.
"The problem with those (awareness) programs," said Batt, "is that, unless you also fund treatment for those same women, you don't help them by detecting their cancers earlier; and you perpetuate the emphasis on mammography screening, rather than prevention, better treatment and equitable care."
... One topic you'll never catch either of the Brinkers mentioning is the need for a cleaner environment. That might be because the international petrochemical giant Occidental Corp., big Komen boosters and the same folks who brought us Love Canal, donates 4,000 square feet of "glass and marble offices" to Komen on the premises of Occidental's Dallas headquarters.
* * *
One more:
 Anybody who thinks none of this Komen action was political --
should read this.
 EXCLUSIVE: Ari Fleischer Secretly Helped Guide Komen Strategy On Planned Parenthood
Think Progress

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