This has been a tough year when it comes to loss. I just found out today that yet another wonderful friend, Cyndi Wenck, passed away from breast cancer. In September, I lost another dear friend Ashley. In July, Evan Mattingly (who was featured in my book) died. In December, it was my close friend Nevine. And that’s just the people I considered close to me. It is one of the occupational hazards of being involved in the cancer community. And it really, really sucks.
With all the pink hoopla that is October, all the millions of dollars supposedly going to the cause, why have we not found a cure? Why does it seem that more and more people are getting cancer? And why aren’t more people furious about it and demanding action? These are questions I’ve asked myself for years.
When the AIDS epidemic hit, the gay community organized and demanded that a cure be found. By 1988 frustration was growing over the length of time it had taken to approve AZT, the drug proven to slow the progression of AIDS, and the FDA’s slow progress in improving access to other experimental AIDS drugs. On October 11, 1988, more than a thousand ACT UP demonstrators descended on the FDA headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, demanding quicker and more efficient drug approval. Eight days later, the FDA announced regulations to cut the time it took for drugs to be approved. People took action and made things happen. Why do people seem so complacent about cancer?
I wonder if people who are walking for the Susan G. Komen For the Cure know that only 24 percent of their massive funding goes toward research, and only a fraction of that to metastatic breast cancer. They have made a huge contribution to be sure, but they need to contribute more to trademark the name, “For the Cure.” Or that many of those “pink ribbon” marketing campaigns you see on everything from fried chicken buckets to cosmetics actually make more money from capitalizing on the pink bandwagon than what they contribute. Even more maddening is that a lot of these products have cancer-causing properties. Take cosmetics that contain parabens and plastics that contain BPA, both are known to mimic estrogen, a known breast cancer promoter. When exposed to these synthetic chemicals, the noncancerous breast cells started acting like cancer cells. Organizations like Breast Cancer Action have done a great job warning people of dangers and asking people to Think Before You Pink. Click HERE to read about a study that shows how these chemicals interfere with the drug Tamoxifen, which treats hormone-fed cancers.
Which brings me to my other point: there are environmental links to cancer. And we, as proactive individuals, can be careful about what we put on or in our bodies. Too bad the FDA isn’t doing much of that. They claim there is not enough evidence. I’m grateful that my daughter is in a groundbreaking study called Growing Up Female to study what might be leading to what I see as a cancer epidemic. In the meantime, I use paraben-free personal care products and makeup, truly clean cleaning products and buy organic.
Finding a cure is just as important. We need to get serious about eradicating breast cancer! That’s why I’m supporting the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) to reach their deadline to find a cure by 2020. I think one reason we haven’t found a cure is that research is going off in all kinds of different directions. NBCC is promoting collaboration among all scientists to find a cure once and for all.
Next weekend, I am honored to be a participant in the Bright Starts Pink Power Mom weekend. They are donating $5,000 to the charity of my choice and it’s going to NBCC. I’m also donating 10 percent of my proceeds from From Incurable to Incredible to this organization. I encourage all of you to do your part to be informed and fight for a cure. I am tired of saying goodbye to good friends.