I ask that Komen commit at least 50% of total donations to medical research and innovation rather than to awareness and education. I request all other breast cancer non-profits do the same.
This petition had 8,564 supporters
My name is Ann Silberman. I have metastatic breast cancer - the only type of breast cancer that kills. Like 90 - 94% of people now living with Stage IV breast cancer, I was diagnosed with early stage disease. Although this was the year 2009, I did the same type of treatment that has been around for 30 years: slash, poison and burn. After my mastectomy and chemotherapy, I’d hoped to go back to a long, healthy life. Unfortunately, in 2011 breast cancer was found in my liver, and my disease is now incurable. The past four years have been a nightmare: chemo after chemo, surgeries and sepsis, radiation and sickness, scans and tests, hospitals and infusion rooms. Unlike most with a liver metastasis, I am lucky enough to still be alive 4 years later, although nobody can tell me for how long. Metastatic breast cancer has always been, and still is, incurable.
Over the past 30 years, billions of dollars have been raised for the cause of breast cancer, with Komen being the most prominent non-profit involved. Every October, the US turns pink to support and raise funds to cure those with breast cancer. There isn't a large company in this country that doesn’t attach their name to a breast cancer charity. Most people who buy pink or run races believe that their money goes towards funding for a cure. They are misinformed.
What does it take to cure cancer? Research and Innovation. It takes MDs and PhDs, laboratories and science, creativity, new technology, experiments to find new medications and treatments. Unfortunately, the vast majority of charitable funding goes towards the concept of “awareness.” And over the past generation, we have learned that being aware of cancer and discovering it early is no guarantee of safety; many women will end up with a metastasis no matter how early they found their cancer, even decades past their original diagnosis.
I ask you, in 2014, who is not aware of breast cancer? As a former school secretary, I can tell you that even children understand what breast cancer is. Women of today are not fearful of speaking to their doctors, and mammographic screening is widespread. Awareness might have been paramount in the 1970s when women didn't discuss their breasts, but it is no longer necessary. Breasts are out and proud and women control their healthcare. The goal of awareness has been achieved.
Has all this focus on awareness helped cure cancer? The number of deaths from breast cancer has hovered in the 40,000 range for the past 20 years. 25% to 30% of women diagnosed early stage will still progress to the metastatic, fatal stage. Study after study has highlighted the limits of breast cancer screening. The latest study, which was published in the British Medical Journal, was a 25-year analysis that concluded screening didn't decrease the risk of dying from cancer
Scientists still do not understand fully the mechanism of metastasis, and how can one possibly cure cancer without funding to achieve this understanding? Finding breast cancer early is not a guarantee of safety. There are many gaps in our scientific understanding of this disease, and researchers and medical institutions are always in need of money, especially today. Government funding to the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies working on a cancer cure have been cut, and it is imperative that non-profits make up the difference. It is estimated that in the US, only 5% of funding for metastatic cancer goes towards metastatic research. In today’s society, it is shameful that an organization like Susan G Komen “for the cure” only spends 18% of their money on the one thing that has the potential cure breast cancer - and that is research.
Pink drill bits won’t cure cancer. Football players in pink cleats won’t cure cancer. Pink soup cans won’t cure breast cancer. If these things cause donations to rise, than the money raised must go towards research - to cure cancer.
I call on the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure to live up to the “for the cure” part of its name and to change their funding model. I ask that Komen disclose exactly where their charitable donations are spent and commit at least 50% of total donations towards medical research. I ask every breast cancer awareness charity to do the same. I ask the public to hold them accountable.
My goal was to live to see my son graduate from high school, and I am grateful that I was able to do that. I have a new goal, and that is to live to see a cure. I want my friends with metastatic cancer to live and raise their own children. It’s time to put down the pink flags, roll up the ribbons, and focus your dollars on research rather than awareness. If you do this, you will be saving sisters, mothers, daughters and wives. I will be speaking at SXSW 2015 along with Healthline to encourage this change in the flow of funding, and will be tweeting with the hasttag #BCcure. Please join me and let your voice be heard.
Today: Ann is counting on you
Ann Silberman needs your help with “Keep A Breast Foundation: I ask that Komen commit at least 50% of total donations to medical research and innovation rather than to awareness and education. I request all other breast cancer non-profits do the same.”. Join Ann and 8,563 supporters today.