The following originally appeared on Girlie Girl Army.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure was hit with a tidal wave of backlash when it announced that it was pulling $680,000 in grants to Planned Parenthood that had covered breast-cancer screenings for underprivileged women. As the people behind all the pink went red in the face, Komen decided that the only way to bail out the sinking ship was for CEO Nancy Brinker to resign. Theoretically, she did. But she’s still there, in a new position: chair of the Komen Board Executive Committee. No one has replaced her as CEO, and she still holds the title on Komen’s website. According to recent news reports, in addition to still seemingly being at the helm of the organization, she just landed a tidy little raise—64 percent, to be precise—bringing her salary to nearly $685,000. Quite an interesting number. And surprisingly, she seems to have done it without much of a flap.
Komen had to backpedal and reinstate Planned Parenthood’s grants. But even so, the organization spent a measly 11 percent of its $420 million in annual donations on screening. And it allotted 15 percent for research. So are women actually going pink “for the cure” or for other things—such as Brinker’s reported five-star accommodations, private flights, and luncheons with lobster flown in from Maine?
Equally troubling is the type of “research” that Komen funds: archaic experiments on animals that for more than 40 years still haven’t produced a cure. “The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse,” Richard Klausner, former head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), has observed. “We have cured mice of cancer for decades, and it simply didn’t work in humans.” The same is true for the millions of rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, monkeys, and other animals who have died in the name of cancer experimentation—because their genetic makeup is vastly different from ours. The NCI now uses human cancer cells, taken by biopsy during surgery, to perform first-stage testing for new anti-cancer drugs, giving us all a much better shot at combating cancer. But while other organizations such as Komen waste funds on experiments that have proven time and again not to work, women with a family history of breast cancer, like Angelina Jolie, are so fearful that they are preemptively having their breasts removed.
As a woman, an animal advocate, and a granddaughter whose dear grandmother died of breast cancer at age 64, I am outraged by Komen’s wastefulness and apparent disregard for underprivileged women. We deserve better than this.
A host of organizations dedicate their proceeds to offering screenings for underserved women and finding a cure through cutting-edge non-animal testing methods. Among them are the American Breast Cancer Foundation, the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the United Breast Cancer Research Society. PETA has compiled a complete list.
To end breast cancer, we have to think outside the pink.