Breast Cancer OVERawareness

As a breast cancer ‘survivor’, I really dislike the pink ribbon awareness logo. It is corporatized, it is everywhere and doesn’t mean much anymore. We are all aware and terrified that it will happen to us. It triggers anxiety whenever my diagnosis and treatment is remembered.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation has been very successful at branding a disease. Were you aware that only 16% of the $472 million raised in 2011 actually went to research (most recent financial records available). Were you aware that over $2.2 billion was raised by the foundation the past 6 years and only 3.6% went to research?

There isn’t going to be one solution because breast cancer is not even one disease. There are at least four genetically distinct breast cancers. They may have different causes and definitely respond differently to treatment. There hasn’t been much scientific progress because of the complexity.

Organizations like Komen have good intentions, but the money raised needs to be allocated better. Research is still very important and going forward should be focused more on prevention and what is causing it in the first place. We need to stop creating awareness through fear. Your breasts are not “a precancerous organ.”*

I recommend checking out The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation at and The American Cancer Society at These two organizations focus on research and not marketing.

*Peggy Orenstein summarizes the overall situation best in her recent NYTimes article, “Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer.”


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