Sunday, October 7, 2012

O for the Cure

In my life, I have been described as articulate, verbal, talkative, loquacious even.   My teachers always wrote on my report card that "Ann needs to stop talking and start listening."

It took 54 years, but I have finally been rendered speechless.

About a week ago, I received this in my email: needs your clicks to help Save the Boobs!October is finally here, and while some will be bundling them up for the colder weather, and others will be showing them off in the naughtiest of costumes come Halloween, one thing’s for certain, this month marks a time for saving them – that’s right, it’s National Breast Cancer Awareness month.
During October,, the leading destination for online adult entertainment, will donate 1c for every 30 views of its ‘Small Tits’ and ‘Big Tits’ videos, meaning the more boobs that are viewed, the more money that will be showered upon the Susan G. Komen Foundation. And with the site attracting millions of clicks per month, the amount raised over the next 31 days will be considerable.
It doesn’t matter if you’re into itty-bitty-titties, the perfect handful, jumbo fun-bags or low-swinging flapjacks, what matters most is that your kind and selfless gesture will go a long way towards helping our sisters to find a cure.
This isn’t the first time Pornhub has taken action to combat breast cancer. Six months ago, the website brought their “Save the Boobs” bus to NYC to rescue Manhattan’s mammories by spreading awareness.
So how can you help save the boobs this time around, you bravely ask?Simply visit the landing page on Pornhub's site (link available upon request) and follow the prompts, or head to the ‘categories’ tab on’s home page and choose either “Small Tits” or “Big Tits” videos, then sit back and let the good times bounce.The Save the Boobs web page will keep track of the total unique visits for the month so be sure to encourage your red-blooded friends and family (yes, tell your fathers too) to become a hero of the headlamps and a champion of the cha-cha’s! While on the page you can also tweet the link to your social circles.Together we can give fundraising our breast shot! 

You can see why I was beyond words.

Dear Mr. Pornographer.  I don't need you to save my sweater puppies, my honeydews, my bazongas or my rib balloons.  While losing one of my "fun bags" was not easy, it was almost the simplest thing I've undergone since diagnosis.  I'm terribly sorry that it made me less attractive to you and your legion of little boys, but most of all, I'm sorry that it didn't work to save my life.

Way to minimize a cancer patient's suffering, though.  In the past three years, I have also been on five chemos (I start my sixth this week).  I have had half my liver removed, among other surgeries.  I have had one of the worst cases of c-diff that my doctors had ever seen.  I have had sepsis.  I have had dozens upon dozens of medical tests and have had over 150 doctor's appointments.  I have been close to death.  I have had to tell my children that I have a terminal illness, and that I won't be around for them.  I've lost my hair twice.

I have been living most people's nightmare for three years.

But, it's all okay, because now the knight in shining armor has arrived.  Guys, just download a porno and know that after 29 other people do so too, after the 30th orgasm, an entire penny will go to "awareness."  Os for the Cure.  Thank you for helping, although somehow, I suspect it isn't for me.  God forbid one more woman lose a breast and a man has to lose his fantasy twin peaks.  Now, thanks to pornography,  he can be a "hero of the headlamps."

But really, I can't blame them.  This is just the end result of the Pink Culture perpetuated by the Susan G. Komen Foundation and Nancy Brinker, the CEO.  Downloading porn with a penny donation after 30 unique views is no different than Campbell's donating $50,000 dollars after a million cans are sold, or Yoplait requesting people sending in a yogurt top with a .45 cent stamp so they can make a dime donation.  It's no different than any other marketing trick that is designed to draw attention to the company and not the disease.

If this money went to anything real, it might be different.  Even I will pink, for a good cause.  But, it doesn't.  Let me say this clearly:  Susan G. Komen, with its focus on early detection and "awareness" has completely missed the mark.

I detected my cancer early.   Nearly every woman with metastatic disease began as an early stage woman.  Cancer spreads anyway, and nobody knows why.  All but about 6% of metastatic women started out early stage.   That is why money needs to go to research, and not detection or awareness.

Awareness?  Who, by now, is not aware of breast cancer?  Every ten year old has an "I heart boobies" bracelet and will tell you that the money (they believe) goes towards breast cancer support.  Everybody is aware.

The incidence of cancer discovery has risen because of this awareness and early detection effort - but that is not a good thing.  Doctors now believe that we are finding cancers called DCIS so early that had they been left alone, they may never have done any harm.  The statistics make it sound like the incidence of breast cancer has risen but in fact, as in men with prostate cancer, many woman who have had treatment may never have needed it, and might have lived their entire lives without their bad, in situ, cells harming them.

Early detection is not the answer; in fact, early detection could be hurting women.

Imagine, Dear Pornographer.  Legions of woman may be losing their Pointer Sisters unnecessarily because of early detection.  And, we don't know which DCIS becomes dangerous and which does not, so it must be treated.  Don't you wish you knew, Mr. Jerkoff,  so you could have more to play with?  Then you would donate to research causes, not awareness causes.  Quietly, without drawing attention to yourself and shaming sick women.

Finding a cure is the answer.  Finding out why it spreads is the answer.  Research is the answer - not awareness. Not early detection.  Not more mammogram machines and not literature about how to do a self-exam.  Doctors in labs studying cancer cells, and what turns them on and off (har har) and makes them travel; THAT is the answer.

This email I got is merely the culmination of the bad taste festival that is Pinktober.  It is the end result of "Save the TaTas" and "I Heart Boobies" campaigns.  It is no longer about illness, it is about marketing, and the best way to market something is breasts.  

My disease - this disease that causes me pain, that is making me live every day exhausted, and spend every Wednesday getting chemo, that is making it impossible to do normal things with my child, that will not allow me to see my grandchildren or grow old with my husband - my disease is a marketing tool for companies to make money.

Although my spirits are up and I have a lot of joy in my life, emails such as the one above make me feel about an inch tall.  This is how they want to represent the very real suffering of their mothers, their wives, their sisters and their daughters?  If 30 people watch a porno, donate a penny?  Is that what we are worth?

I think that Susan G. Koman, Nancy Brinker's sister who died of metastatic cancer, would be rolling in her grave if she saw the plastic-surgerized, self-involved woman who has been running the company her name is attached to. I know if Nancy was my sister, I would be severely disappointed, and we'd probably fight each Thanksgiving, if we spoke at all.  The Koman Organization has gotten way off track.  So, they take money from pornographers whose job it is to use and denigrate women, they take money from bars selling special pink drinks knowing that alcohol is linked to cancer, they take money from casinos that put pink sheets on their beds, not caring that gambing destroys lives, and in October, everybody has pink packaging without even telling you where the money goes.  There is no honor in any of it.

But hey, what the hell.   Let the good times bounce.


  1. OMG Ann! Give 'em hell. It's about time you said what was real. Keep on doing it! :)
    [You have made me more aware of the reality of Pinktober.]

  2. BRAVO, Ann! This is an excellent response and I hope that you sent it along to these boneheads (<-- pun intended -- it's all in "fun", right?!) ; )

    I came across this online last week and immediately tweeted. It was RT'd and someone cc'd Komen on it. To my astonishment, they responded!! (Mind you, I'm not giving them any credit or defending them, just an FYI and reporting the facts about what resulted)

    They tweeted that they were "aware" (interesting choice of words, Komen) but they were in no way involved with them.

    ME: So why don't you issue a statement and say so PUBLICLY?! (I said this especially knowing that part of their 'awareness' involved suing smaller charities that attempt to market using "For the Cure" --- why on earth would they NOT take a stand on this, especially given their image these days). I've concluded that their strategy was probably to quietly accept the money unless a stink was raised. Way to go, Komen!

    Someone defended them to me via DM and via tweet, asking "what might we do to help them take a stand?"

    Help them?!? Isn't what they are paying their crack team of communications people to do? (Oops, forgot ... they prefer to stick their collective heads in the sand and pretend things will just go away).

    ME: "It's not WHAT they will do, it's WHEN they will do it; a statement is needed" (or something to that effect.

    And then, the unthinkable happened (and I have no way of knowing whether this was related or not)....

    About an hour later, a friend sent me a note on FB completely unaware of this exchange and asked if I had seen a link to MSNBC, which contained a statement from Komen declaring they had no knowledge of this campaign and asked them to drop their name from it.

    (Hmm... a little weak if you ask me --- where was the outrage of demoralizing the BC patients they serve?? Where was the legal action?)

    Later that day (or next) Porhnub didn't skip a beat in publicizing the opportunity for EVEN MORE exposure, addressing Komen's statement with one of their own --- basically shaming Komen for refusing their dirty money and saying that they were in search of another BC charity that would welcome the money.

    I don't need to add to your disgust of ALL of this --- and frankly, Komen's response wasn't enough (but I do give them credit for at least acknowledging it at all).

    Aside from being ignorant, sexist, and tasteless on every level (and I am holding back here) Pornhub could have easily made a PRIVATE donation without all the publicity, sensationalism and fanfare. I'm not judging pornography (that's a whole other discussion) but it is a dubious place to be taking money given that the industry degrades women and a host of other issues --- but solely on the basis of a company wanting to be charitable, there were other ways to do this. (Again, not condoning what they do).

    Ugh ... can't believe there are 24 more days left to Pinkapalooza!!!

  3. Great response, Blondie. :) I did get more emails from the PornHub that I didn't open, probably about what you have mentioned. I really was rendered speechless. I knew I had to blog it but what on earth do you say about this?

    It just doesn't matter to me whether Komen decided to distance themselves from this or not. I know, as you state, that Komen would have taken the money had their been no negative publicity. As I said, they take money from pretty much everybody, indiscriminately. Many people seize upon the fact that they take money from chemical companies, but until there is proof those chemicals cause breasst cancer, I am not going to scream about that, but I do scream about the alcohol companies and bars, as there is a direct link between triple negative cancer and alcohol. And, casinos and other companies that pretend to donate that can be harmful.

    Komen makes BILLIONs (with a B) and only a tiny fraction of that money, 1.7%, goes to research "for the cure". Most of it is funneled back into their massive fundraising machine. Awareness is ads, brochures, mammograms machines, and pink parties. They have sued little charities that have used the phrase "for the cure" that actually WERE working for a cure. Somebody should sue Komen for using it in a misleading way.

    Hey readers, don't rely on me. Check out their administrative costs. See who they take money from. See who they give money too. Then decide for yourself.

    Nancy Brinker's sister died of cancer, like I will. And, hardly any money that the Komen foundation has goes towards finding the causes and reasons for mets. Maybe Nancy hated her sister, I don't know. You would think finding out why this disease spreads in early stage women, would be paramount. Some women go ten years before their mets are found. I know dozens of Stage 1 women with mets. But, it is barely on their radar.

    And, the 2nd thing they should be doing is finding out WHY some DCIS spreads and some doesn't. The slash method for all women with DCIS breaks my heart. With their billions, they could figure out what makes some DCIS dangerous and some not and it seems that almost nobody is doing that research but UCLA.

    Now, some of the pink stuff, I don't mind. Some is harmless. I'm not a militant really. I may accept some pink advertising. I support Stand Up 2 Cancer and Metavivor other charities that focus on research. But, some of it is just infuriating.

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  5. Wow. I'm so impressed that when you're speechless you still come up with slam dunk eloquence. I suck at that, although I am known to make very outraged sputtering noises...

  6. Unbelievable, isn't it? Thanks for your eloquent post on this subject. I also just posted on the porn connection. How any of this can be justified is beyond me. Keep on writing! You rock!

  7. I LOVED what you wrote here! I will no longer buy anything Susan G Komen related and I will be giving to the American Cancer Society! I am sharing your blog on Facebook and people are being informed!!!!

  8. This is absolutely insane. I can't Seriously love that you wrote about this, though--the pink bandwagon is a dangerous and insulting one.

    I think the ideal charity would focus on raising money that could be distributed as grants to PIs/institutes that are ACTUALLY doing the research. Of course, that would require a little more access to what various cancer research labs are doing and generally improve the quality of scientific communication to the general public in order to raise funds. Ugh, just imagine having all of these people properly educated about where their money is going! The horror! Oh, wait...

    And seriously, Pornhub? Those million views translate to $333. That's about $5 going towards research. Five. Dollars. That will buy half of an NMR tube. Try donating your ad revenue on those millions of views directly to research labs--THEN maybe I'll be less disgusted.

    Aaaarrrrrrrrgh. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this on top of everything else.

    1. Thanks for doing the math for me. It makes it all the more egregious to know how very little will go to anything.....

  9. Thank you Ann for always saying the truth. How I hate the PINK with a passion.

  10. hi Ann

    Great post as always.

    The irony of an 'industry' which objectifies women and populates its films with women with fake breasts donating money to assist those with fake breasts which are the result of mastectomies resulting from a cancer diagnosis is breathtaking.

    Of course as you point out, many many business exploit the Pink Cause to raise their own brand profile. I am actually okay with that. That is the way capitalism works. Provided it means money is raised I am not sure I am too fussed.

    But I like you am not okay with not enough money being spent on research. I guess research is hard and 'awareness raising' is, at the end of the day, much much easier.

    1. The implants women get after a mastectomy look nothing like implants women get for larger breasts. There's a big difference between an implant placed under the muscle and an implant placed in a breast.

  11. I agree with a lot of what you say , but I am not sure I would dismiss the importance of awareness.

    Early doesnt just mean DCIS. It also means finding an invasive cancer .
    Detecting invasive cancer early does give women a fighting chance. Sure it cant guarantee no mets or recurrence but it is a better option that detecting it at a much later stage.
    Once again this is not to say that research and ultimate cure is not what we need most, but awareness is important too.

    1. But, who, by now, is not aware of breast cancer? That is my question. Why is Komen spending Billions with a B on "awareness" instead of research? Everybody is aware of breast cancer. I worked in a middle school and the 6th graders all know about breast cancer. Elementary kids know about breast cancer. Talk to any woman on the street - just go right up to one, one that maybe looks a bit clueless, and ask her what a mammogram is for. She'll know. She'll also know when she's supposed to get one. We do NOT need to spend money on awareness.

      And, the myth that early detection equals a cure is just that - a myth. I was detected at Stage II, most woman who are now metsters were detected at Stage I or II or III. Many of us had clear nodes and no LVI, and no reason to end up with terminal disease. Yet we did. Why? I'm not saying women shouldn't get mammograms or get detected early. It may save lives to find it at Stage 1 (and it may not) but I'm saying MONEY doesn't need to be spent on it anymore. Komen giving mammogram machines to low income areas - I'm fine with that. But, billions spent on ads and materials and commercials to make us "aware?" Unnnecessary and a foolish waste of money.

  12. Hi Ann, while Komen pinks out October with dubious results, there are some organizations who are doing it right: raising money for research and really looking for a cure. If people want to donate to a worthy cause, perhaps you might promote the "26.2 with Donna to Finish Breast Cancer" here in northeast Florida, also known as the National Breast Cancer Marathon (coming up again in February). 100% of the funds raised go to research programs at the Jacksonville Mayo Clinic, and they are making relevant discoveries quite frequently.

  13. Thanks, Ann, for bringing this one to our attention. The blatant sexism in breast cancer land continues to astonish me. I just don't get it. Thanks for writing this.

  14. Well said Ann!!! Really, how ridiculous can things get!!!

  15. I have worked for 2 Breast Cancer organizations here in the Atlanta area and all funds raised stayed in Georgia. Both of them were founded by a breast cancer survivor/patient (her breast cancer returned after 8 years and sadly she lost her battle 2 years ago).

    The first organization mission was to grant funds to help fund research, but with their low cap on the maximum grant, not many requests were received specifically for research. I'm not sure if that was due to not much research happening in Georgia or if researchers weren't content to settle for funding from multiple sources as opposed to all from one source (that may also be an accounting nightmare for researchers too - not sure).

    The second organization is raising funds and donating to an organization that provides those funds to patients that may need help with their day to day living expenses. We deem ourselves the "AFLAC" of breast cancer organizations. Too often a patient needs to decide whether to get his/her treatment or put food on the table for their families.

    2 years after the first organization was founded, we had several meetings with the Komen organization with the end result being a very bad taste in my mouth. I will not buy any product during Pinktober whose proceeds will go to support SGK. They have "lost their way" are too big and don't gift/grant nearly enough of what is raised every year towards research. I don't know that the American Cancer Society is much better - at one point less than 50% of what they raised was being granted out.

    Great job Ann! I will keep you in my prayers as I continue to take part in various breast cancer events here in Atlanta.

    1. I think the ACS is pretty big too, and may not be the BEST charity around, but they do some direct patient support, and have a lot of programs for cancer patients. I have benefited from them personally, with their free wigs, their Look Good Feel Better classes and their gas cards. They also do provide money for research and are focused on all cancer, not just breast. If you have to choose between the two, my money is on ACS for sure.

  16. Ann,

    Such a powerful piece and the porn people so deserve it. Just when I think I've seen it all, I haven't. The sexualization and trivialization of breast cancer continue....

  17. I just love your blog! You say everything I'm thinking and can't quite manage. This one is absolutely brilliant. Thank you for your clear voice, it will help me educate all the folks who seriously don't get my disease. It's a scary world for survivors and those in active treatment alike, thanks to a glut of misinformation, and standards of care that haven't changed a whole lot in 20+ years.

  18. Amen, sister!!! I consider myself lucky that all I lost were my breasts following a DCIS diagnosis, but I do have that lingering feeling of "could I have just watched and waited?" I want more research to determine how BC develops. I wanted the peace of mind and I have it. But amputating body parts is not trivial. I'm a big supporter of Breast Cancer Action and their "Think Before You Pink" campaign. You've eloquently laid out all the issues surrounding the marketing blitz that is October.

  19. My family has lost four women to breast cancer and one to ovarian, thank you. Thank you for showing the evil side of "Pink Awareness". I get ill everytime I see the pink BS, breast cancer is an monster and not some cute little ribbon and this is just another sgk disgrace. Pink handguns, pink cans containing toxins that kill, Pink buckets of fried chicken, Promise Me perfume that SGK makes with toxins that kill and now pink porn. Nancy Brinker has become very wealthy from the tragic death of her sister and I am no longer shocked by her horrible behaviour.

  20. This is a wonderful adjunct to others who have previously called out the "pink" campaign for producing all kinds of marketing collateral that uses, for example, carginogenic materials (rubber bracelets, anyone?). I wish I could articulate even half so eloquently *anything* that I've ever tried to write about. Bravo. And best wishes.

  21. CureLauncher is the next step in the way new drug and medical device research gets funded. The timing for this change in funding is critical. According to The Sequestration Transparency Act released by the White House, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will face $2.5 billion in funding cuts on January 2. The immediate effect from those cuts will be the further loss of jobs and a devastating impact to health research.


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