Last night I had a photography shoot at an event I was working on and when I got home, I swear my left breast where the lumpectomy occurred was throbbing and full of sharp little pain darts (for lack of a better description). I couldn’t get out of my bra fast enough. Wow talk about a reminder of what I have been through. And it got me to thinking yet again about the whole Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood Debate, the cut in funding, public outcry, backlash, and restoration of funding.
At my event last night I got into a conversation with a dear male friend who is in the field of conservative talk radio. He is a true conservative. I am not. Much about me is conservative, but my views on women’s health issues are far more individualistic as I wasn’t meant to be part of the proverbial Stepford. And besides, any reasonable thinking person knows breast cancer has nothing to do with abortion.
I have known since I was much younger that I would not be able to bear children easily, if it at all. Of course having breast cancer sort of sealed the deal on it all once and for all as well as my curent age. As a result, I am not a woman who has faced the decision of whether or not to remain pregnant. But I have thought about it, and my decision has always been that we do not have the right to tell women what to do with their bodies. I am sorry, but it’s just not right. That is not advocating anything nefarious, it is just being realistic. Every woman’s situation is as unique as she is.
So my friend and I went back and forth for a while about our positions, and it was a party setting so it wasn’t entirely appropriate for me to get into the nitty gritty of it all. He felt that Susan G. Komen caved and that Planned Parenthood was just an arm of the Demeocratic Party. Alrighty then, I disagree. But now I will clarify my position to him, and to all as an example of how lucky I was, but what I was thinking about a couple short years ago.
Way back when before my sweet man was on the scene, I was then recently post break up of an engagement to someone else. When my engagement ended, I was for all intents and purposes sort of dumped off the health insurance I helped my ex get. (He is a lawyer and will undoubtedly argue that point and every other point known to man as was his wont, but he can’t argue my right to my opinion. Besides it happened.) Of course what was ironic there is for years he had been on my former corporate health insurance as my domestic partner. Which given the fact he was a decade plus older than I, can I tell you how that shot my premiums up monthly?
So there I was starting completely over (did I mention he left his old and dying dog with me too?), trying to get health insurance in a country and economy that really doesn’t provide too many options to individuals who need individual health insurance. My employer doesn’t offer employee benefits, so I had to get insured under my own steam.
What if I had been diagnosed with breast cancer at THAT point in time? While applying for new health insurance? Let’s get real, if I had popped a breast cancer diagnosis IN BETWEEN plans or as I was coming off the old plan would anyone have wanted to carry me or politicians given a damn about one more woman with breast cancer? We know what happens to women like that given the state of health insurance in this country, don’t we? I would have been S-C-R-E-W-E-D. My only option if that scenario had occurred would have been to go to an organization like Planned Parenthood, or something similar to get donated mammograms and other breast health related diagnostic tests. God knows how I would have covered my surgery and treatment.
I get very emotional when I think about this, because I know a woman bravely fighting late stage colorectal cancer – which she was diagnosed with when she had no health insurance. She was at the time too young for medicare, but out of COBRA. And hadn’t done anything because she probably felt she couldn’t afford health insurance and gambled.
I could not take that risk and I fought to get individual health insurance. And thank God I did.
So when I think about what Susan G. Komen did, it is almost personal for me, because but for the grace of God, I could have been one of those millions of scared women who needed help from a group like Planned Parenthood so I wouldn’t run the risk of dying of improperly or untreated breast cancer.
I was one of the lucky ones. As I type this, I can tell you I am extremely emotional just thinking about it. So to have a philosophical political debate with a friend who sees this issue as “Komen caving”, with all due respect, is bullshit. The only thing Susan G. Komen did was reverse itself kind of sort of to try to dig itself out of the quick sand pit of a public relations nightmare it created by bowing to political pressure and the politics of the uterus.
Politics has NO place in women’s health. I do not need people who are politicians dictating their ideological preferences at the expense of MY health as a woman and limiting any choice under the sun I might need – after all health insurance in this country kinda sorta already does that. And the 411 although none of anyone’s business, I say this as both a Catholic and a Republican. So maybe I am going to hell, but I will do so as a breast cancer survivor who is not afraid to speak her mind or look her God in the eye.
Last night on the 11 PM newscast as I was flipping channels, I lit on the CBS affiliate in Philadelphia. They were at a Susan G. Komen kick off event something for that 3-day. Of course if they were kicking off in Philadelphia for this, they were also kicking off in other major metropolitan cities, weren’t they? So I would say the “timing” of their “reversal” was a big case of C.Y.A. (“cover your ass”). During this film snippet they interviewed for a nano-second a woman with brown hair at the event twaddling on how Susan G. Komen bowed to political pressure, blah, blah, blah. And there she was wearing a damn pink ribbon. I swear if I had been standing right in front of that chick at that event I would have given her a piece of my mind AND thrown my drink in her face.
Here is some more from Komen’s “reversal” statement yesterday that CBS 3 reported along with a comment that “The Susan G. Komen organization has restored funding to Planned Parenthood following criticism from liberal groups and lawmakers“:
“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.
The events of this week have been deeply unsettling for our supporters, partners and friends and all of us at Susan G. Komen. We have been distressed at the presumption that the changes made to our funding criteria were done for political reasons or to specifically penalize Planned Parenthood. They were not.
Our original desire was to fulfill our fiduciary duty to our donors by not funding grant applications made by organizations under investigation. We will amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political. That is what is right and fair.
Our only goal for our granting process is to support women and families in the fight against breast cancer. Amending our criteria will ensure that politics has no place in our grant process…
Susan G. Komen? Millions of people will never trust you again, and it is entirely what you deserve. Susan G. Komen needs to be humbled and remember that fighting breast cancer is not about making people buy tons of vomitorious plastic garbage. And CBS3? I take umbrage to your statement that Komen reversed itself solely because of “liberal lawmakers” . Who the hell writes your copy and fact checks? Unless of course conservative politicians are the ones who solely fund Susan G. Komen like Planned Parenthood is run by liberal politicians out of Nancy Pelosi’s basement? Don’t insult me or my intellegence, along with all the other women who have had breast cancer, are currently undergoing treatment, or lost someone to the disease.
I apologize to my faithful readers for the rant, but I just feel very strongly about this. And once again I am going to suggest breast cancer charities WORTHY of your time (and I might add all founded in the area where I am from. All but one have a national focus, and aren’t just local).:
I also encourage support of any group, including Planned Parenthood that focuses on women’s health issues.
People who practice politics of the uterus, even fellow women, are to be shunned and ignored. Not embraced. Deadly diseases like breast cancer don’t discriminate, so keep politics out of this.
Of course, the even more alarming thing to contemplate now is the dangerously extreme nature of American politics, which I feel is diverting from the mission of equality that was embraced and bled for by our founding fathers circa 1776.
Perhaps now the Susan G. Komen Mean Girls Charity needs the public relations equivalent of a morning after pill? Won’t that upset certain quarters if they order one up? Oh, the ironies….
Here is some suggested additional reading:
The New Yorker Daily Comment
In 1731, Benjamin Franklin’s nineteen-year-old sister, Jane, wrote to her brother that their sister Mary, a mother of three, was dying of breast cancer. Franklin was in Philadelphia; his sisters were in Boston. “I know a cancer in the breast is often thought incurable,” Franklin wrote Jane, “yet we have here in town a kind of shell made of some wood, cut at a proper time, by some man of great skill (as they say,) which has done wonders in that disease among us, being worn for some time on the breast.” Mary died later that year. There was no cure. There is still no cure.
New York Times: Outcry Is Fierce to Cut in Funds by Cancer Group
Philadelphia Inquirer: Komen foundation needs cure for backlash over Planned Parenthood cutoff
Huffington Post: The Komen Controversy: Enough Already With “The Power of Social Media” (this is a particular favorite of mine, because technically Huffington Post is a big assed blog which makes it in and of itself social media, correct?)
San Francisco Chronicle: Can Susan G. Komen for the Cure erase blemish? :
“These events have revealed the organization is willing to play politics with women’s lives,” said Anika Rahman, president of the feminist group Ms. Foundation for Women. “Women feel betrayed … so I think the emphasis will be on the ribbon and what lies beneath. It’s something that will have long-term implications.”
Breast cancer doesn’t care if its victims support abortion or not. The disease doesn’t discriminate. The Komen foundation learned the hard way that it shouldn’t, either.