Dear Nancy,

Published February 1, 2012 by Deb Ragosta

I see that your organization, “Komen for the Cure” is getting a little bad press today.  In fact, I just heard the news on CNN that you’ve pulled funding to Planned Parenthood – funding that was used to pay for mammograms for women who are underinsured, uninsured or otherwise cannot afford to pay for them.  It’s all over Facebook as well, and I understand your Facebook page is being bombarded by comments coming in from all over the country.  As we all know, you started the organization in 1982 to honor your late sister, Susan Komen, who passed away as a result of metastatic breast cancer.  Cheers to you and your rich pals for being so pro-active in trying to find that cure.  After all, that’s why millions are donated each year – so you can do just that.

It seems as though you take quite a large salary (and you are already very wealthy) and have even held positions in George W. Bush’s administration.  Why should it surprise anyone that you have caved to pressure from your wealthy right-wing pals to pull funding for free mammograms performed at Planned Parenthood  facilities.  As I see it, the problem is that Planned Parenthood also performs abortions, and that is the basis of the pressure to which you succumbed.  Abortion is and probably always will be a political hot button, but it has nothing to do with breast cancer and pulling funding for mammograms that just happen to be offered by the same organization that provides abortions makes no sense, even to those who have bought into your “savior of the masses from the horrors of breast cancer” image that you certainly do nothing to deny.

As for me, as a woman with metastatic breast cancer, I, along with many of my metsisters and brothers, stopped listening to your message a long time ago.  You claim to be “for the cure” yet you give less than 5% of the millions raised each year to research for metastatic breast cancer.  Now, you are pulling funding for mammograms because you don’t agree with the politics of the organization providing the mammograms.  Thanks to you, breast cancer awareness has come a long way since 1982, but now it’s time for you to stop talking the talk and start putting the money raised by your organization towards really making a difference (and I certainly don’t mean that we need a cancer-friendly perfume or to see your logo on 1 million more retail items.)

My message to you is simple:  Restore funding for mammograms (even if it means writing a check to Planned Parenthood) AND substantially increase funding for metastatic breast cancer research.  The rest is, quite frankly, nothing more than a feel-good marketing ploy that is sending the wrong message.  Komen can only be “for the cure” when the funds raised from children selling lemonade, people walking, swimming and buying everything from yogurt to cars really does go to finding the cure.  Nancy, you can make a real difference and the last thing you need is the ugly publicity being generated by pulling funds for free mammograms.


Deb Ragosta

PS:  Don’t Stop Believing!

7 comments on “Dear Nancy,

  • Deb, you go, girl! Nancy…shame on you! You are making breast cancer be about abortion, and that’s a connection that it’s simply not necessary to make. One is a hot-button issue; the other is totally separate. Or at least, it should be.

    You have gotten a lot of bad talk in the metastatic breast cancer community for a number of years, because you talk about ‘for the cure’ but you devote precious, precious few of your resources to searching for the cure for the form of breast cancer that actually kills us — metastatic breast cancer. And now this…. So sad.

    What we need, to save a lot of lives, is to understand what happens to make cancers become metastatic, how to prevent it, and how to treat it once it has occurred.

    THAT is the cure we need, Nancy Brinker!


  • Wow, Deb, that was a real education for me, and, I hope a real eye opener for Nancy Brinker, too! You express yourself like the smart, strong woman that you are. Thank you.


  • Some of this I agree with but over all-not so much. Planned Parenthood is not the only outlet to which Komen can fund mammograms. There are many places that do not perform abortions, where these funds can be useful to the poor. I beg to differ that one has nothing to do with the other. Studies have shown breast cancer risks increase with abortions. Also, Planned Parenthood could and should use those monies being used for abortions to find mammograms. Instead the funds are freed up by the donations given for mammograms to perform even more abortions! This is the first I’ve heard of Komen pulling funding from PP, if it is true-kudos to them.


    • I agree that Planned Parenthood is not the only outlet that Komen can provide funding to, but it is an organization that is known for many things, including giving women without insurance a way to get breast and cervical screenings. Of course, most people think of abortions when they think of Planned Parenthood, but this is not the issue here. I completely understand your opinion, though. My hope is that this issue will indirectly help my cause by putting the spotlight on Komen for not only this, but for the way the organization has turned “the cure” into a marketing ploy with very little funding actually going to finding the cure!


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