breast cancer research

Maybe you’ve heard about this on the news, but in case you weren’t aware, the Susan G. Komen foundation is pulling the funding they provided to Planned Parenthood for mammograms (NPR story here)

This seems like as good an opportunity as any to talk about breast cancer screenings and research – a matter close to my heart.

I’m pretty careful about where I donate money. And I want as much of my donation as possible to go to the stated goal (as opposed to fundraising, or overhead) And the Komen foundation, like many other big name non-profit fundraisers has it’s fair share* of expenses. If we look at the numbers provided by the Better Business Bureau we can see that the CEO gets $481K. Ok, so maybe lots of CEO’s feel they need that kind of paycheck. We can also see that 84% of funding used for their programs (other 16% on admin and fundraising). But what exactly ARE their programs? Of that amount: 46% is spent on education while only 33.5% on research, 13% on screening, and 7.5% on treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I think breast cancer education is important. But I’m curious, how much of that 46% is spent on flyers to hand out at doctor’s offices and how much of it is spent on making pink water bottles and other paraphernalia?**

So anyway, this is mostly just a warning – be CAREFUL with your donated dollars. Think about what you want your money to go towards, and then see if the organization you’ve chosen has goals similar to yours. Just because Komen uses the slogan “for the cure”*** doesn’t mean all their fundraising is going towards research, or even treatment…

So, now maybe you’re wondering where I recommend you donate (if not, that’s fine) Personally I like the High Risk Breast Program of Vermont. Yeah, that’s right: of Vermont. Vermont may be small but Fletcher Allen has a great clinical research facility. And their breast cancer research program would be happy to put your money to good use. There’s a secure donation button right on that page.

I admit I’m personally invested in this program, I’m actually a patient. My mom had breast cancer when she was just 35 and because of that I am at high risk. While early mammograms aren’t necessary for everyone I had my first at the ripe old age of 27. I’m on an annual routine of them, alternated every 6 months with ultrasound screenings. Beyond that I’m donating blood samples for breast cancer research. Every few years they take samples and I spend hours filling out surveys and questionnaires. Whether I am someday diagnosed with cancer, or if I’m one of the lucky ones who gets passed by, either way my samples and my personal information can be used to check for DNA markers, lifestyle triggers, and other possible causes of breast cancer.

So if you’re looking for somewhere to send money for breast cancer research, I highly recommend The High Risk Breast Program of Vermont.

But you know what else you can do? Knit a scarf! Yup! The hospital gift shop has a rack where they sell high quality, hand knit scarves – and the money goes to their breast cancer research program. Check out the information box on the left side of that same page. If you’re interested in knitting a scarf for them, leave a comment here. If I get a few of you who want to help out I’ll contact them myself and organize a little scarf drive. Does that sound like fun?

*or possibly more than it’s fair share, depending on your point of view
**this is speculation on my part. Maybe those are all donated? Maybe advertizing comes in as an admin expense not education?
***In fact, they’ve sued other non-profits using that term. Thanks guys…


9 responses to “breast cancer research

  1. I would like to knit scarves to donate. Let me know if you’ll be getting something together, please.

  2. I’ll do it! I’m having a bit of a women’s health scare myself and I’d be more than happy to contribute.

  3. I’d be happy to donate/make a scarf. A Burlington pal is also in the high risk group. So Fletcher Allen has a local connection.

  4. Great post, count me it! And thanks for sharing a productive alternative to funding a [possibly bloated] organization that has demonstrated quite clearly it doesn’t share my values.

  5. Thanks for the very informative post — I didn’t know half those things about the Komen Foundation. Like you, I’m hoping that the bad press that comes with this doesn’t end up harming breast cancer research. Maybe it will actually help by noodging people to put their dollars where they’ll be more effective.

  6. I’d be interested. I have lots of deadline knitting at the moment but I’d love to squeeze this in if I can. If you start a drive let me know. I can spread the word at the shop where I teach. Thanks for sharing this :)

  7. The whole Komen thing makes me so angry. I’d always been suspicious about the usefullness of slapping pink ribbons on everything & “pinkifying” breast cancer. I’d be happy to donate a scarf. Just let me know where to send it!

  8. Today is the day to wear red, as it is to make people aware that heart disease kills more women than all the cancers combined. Let me know what I can do as far as knitting scarves and where to send them. I am an industrial sewer at Vera Bradley, and 100% of the donated money goes to the research center. I have never been taken in by the Komen deal either; maybe its a sixth sense or something, but I was never impressed.

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