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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Her Mom Died From Breast Cancer and She Needed Planned Parenthood for Free Screenings

Posted by on Wed, Feb 1, 2012 at 3:07 PM

"Breast cancer has always been a part of my life," says Kate Harmer, a 30-year-old Seattle resident. "My mom was diagnosed when I was nine and passed away from breast cancer when I was 19. I grew up knowing that I could get breast cancer, that my sister could have it, doctors told us that because our mom had breast cancer that we were really at high risk.

"When I graduated high school, I lost my health insurance. All throughout college and graduate school, I was without insurance—yet I had this high risk of breast cancer—and the only place I could get free screenings was Planned Parenthood. For 10 years, I would go to Planned Parenthood for my annual physicals, checkups, and breast exams. They were my primary healthcare provider.

"Without Planned Parenthood, I don't know what I would've done. I'm only insured now because I married someone with health insurance.

"And now, I'm torn," Harmer says, referring to Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood breast cancer screenings. "My family tries to participate in Komen's Race for the Cure every year and I try to raise money beyond the standard entrance fee. Race for the Cure is an emotional event for me every year. It is a way I remember and honor my mother. I will still participate for that reason, but I may not try to raise additional funds beyond the entry fee. While I support them, I may try to find ways to funnel more of my money towards supporting Planned Parenthood instead.

"I hope, at the very least, Susan G. Komen uses the funds they were giving to Planned Parenthood to set up some alternative breast health centers or screening options.

"Also, my hope is that somehow the response from their decision will raise awareness that Planned Parenthood is so much more than about abortions or sexual health [for example, PP abortions account for less than three percent of the organization's services, while breast cancer screenings account for 17 percent]. Women NEED Planned Parenthood and they NEED breast screenings. And now they're being attacked. Hopefully people will see that these needs aren't political and their funding will be reinstated.


Comments (29) RSS

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Matt from Denver 1
Local affiliates may not be bound by what they do at the head office. Denver's Komen affiliate says they plan to keep funding our local Planned Parenthood.…
Posted by Matt from Denver on February 1, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
Fnarf 2
@1, the war between the regional affiliates and the national is just beginning. You can be sure that the national org will attempt to stop what Denver is doing. The local here has its head in the sand, unfortunately. This is going to get way uglier before it gets better. If it gets better.
Posted by Fnarf on February 1, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Karlheinz Arschbomber 3
It's big business, this charity thing. At Komen, 43 staffers make over $100k, several in the $300-500k range. This swinery makes me feel singularly uncharitable in the face of real health needs.
Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber on February 1, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 4
The "Nurturing Network" will pick up the screening slack shortly, I'm sure.

The Komen affiliates better break off and join their own network, because their HQ's leadership is rotten.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 1, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 5
@4 like the DC one, they sound ready to jump ship.
Posted by Will in Seattle on February 1, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
merry 6
It's news like this that really makes me wish I believed in the concept of Hell.

Because if I did, I'd be sure that an extra-hot, extra-prickly berth is being prepared right now for these Komen execs who are so blindly prejudiced towards their own political agendas that they're willing to SACRIFICE WOMEN'S LIVES in order to 'toe the party line'.

Fuck. Them.
Posted by merry on February 1, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 7
@5: Apocryphal, but a comment I saw in Wikipedia's Talk page on Komen-

"If I remember correctly, Jim Hightower noted in "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" that the Komen Foundation was originally bankrolled by major chemical companies, so that they could vet all the ads...which is perhaps why the focus is on a "cure" and to some extent on "early detection", with no mention of "not pouring such massive amounts of carcinogenic chlorine compounds into the air and water". DanielCristofani 19:46, 4 November 2007 (UTC)"
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 1, 2012 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Womyn2me 8
FYI. I work at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. I emailed the Program manager for the breast health service to see if SCCA or Fred Hutch is going to help pick up the slack from the loss of Komen money. lets see.
Posted by Womyn2me http://http:\\ on February 1, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 1, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
TheMisanthrope 10
I thought most universities had free physicals and such like that. I could be mistaken, but it made it sound like we had that at U-Mich. I didn't use it much except the one time I had strep, and it was free to go in. Am I wrong in thinking this?
Posted by TheMisanthrope on February 1, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
@8, right on! Keep us posted.
Posted by gloomy gus on February 1, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 12
Here's a link that describes that quote-…

"According to Jim Hightower's new book "There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road But Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos," the chemical industry has been profiting from both manufacturing chemicals that have been linked to breast cancer, as well as making money from cancer treatments.

Journalist Molly Ivins quoted Hightower in her Saturday column, saying "first they make money from the organochlorines that some say are linked to breast cancer; then they urge us all to go out and get mammograms to detect the cancer; then they make money trying to cure it. This is an entirely new kind of vertical monopoly."

Organochlorines are man-made chemicals often found in our environment and food, like dioxins, DDT, benzene and CFCs. Ivins cited a study at the Institute of Chemical Toxology at Wayne State University that found a combination of organochlorines caused breast cells to proliferate at a high rate. Breast cancer victims often have high levels of organochlorines in their bodies, and chemical and farm workers who have close contact with organochlorines have high rates of breast cancer. Israel recently reported a 30% drop in breast cancer rates after banning three cancer-causing pesticides.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month was originally sponsored by Imperical Chemical Industries, manufacturers of organochlorines. They were found responsible for dumping toxic chemicals in the St. Lawrence River, and have been accused by the federal government of dumping DDT and PCBs into the L.A. and Long Beach harbors. "

So these companies reportedly influenced the Komen foundation's formation, to Pinkwash their own products and give the illusion of corporate concern over carcinogenic (or otherwise toxic) product.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 1, 2012 at 4:07 PM · Report this
There are other organizations which support free breast cancer screenings that progressives can support.…
Posted by Patricia Kayden on February 1, 2012 at 4:19 PM · Report this
As Kate Harmer knows, what "raise more funds" means is asking people to "sponsor" you in your race, where sponsor means make a donation to Komen. If you really want to run the race, go ahead and do it, but make up nice forms for your sponsors very similar to the one Komen provides, except the donations go to PP or some other cancer-fighting organization. Thus, solidarity with all the good people participating in the race, with minimal money to the less-good people organizing the race.
Posted by Eric from Boulder on February 1, 2012 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Tracy 15
@10 I think you're wrong in thinking that. At least, my experiences using "Hall Health" at Univ of Wash in '98-'02 always billed (but individual care providers were always trying to help out, if finances were a burden, but I'm not sure it was "official"). I remember when I broke my ankle at age 18, I didn't have a copy of my insurance (through my parents' plan). They were happy to x-ray me and begin exams and get the paperwork later, but they kept insisting to know whether it was Group Health, or not, as that wouldn't be accepted there.

When I was in for many months of physical therapy, the doctor was wonderful. He said they'd try to do it through my insurance, but that if it wasn't covered, the doctor himself would personally see me in his down time (at the student gym) to provide PT. (Wow, typing that, it sounds like a cheezy pick-up line. But it was a genuine offer of medical treatment). My insurance DID cover PT, luckily, and I got to attend the sports medicine clinic...which meant using a bench next to the dreamy Donald Watts (Slick's son) for a few months. *drools over the memory of gorgeous basketball players* Wait, what was I talking about?

Oh, that's right. Komen. Rage!
Posted by Tracy on February 1, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Tracy 16
@14 (Okay, I'm on topic now) I've several family and friends who do the 3day each year, and it's crazy emotional for them. But even without additional fundraising, each participant has to raise $2,500 or something huge like that. I know that my pals are struggling with this Komen decision, too. They're still gonna do the walk this year (as they've already committed, etc), but may not next.
Posted by Tracy on February 1, 2012 at 4:45 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 17…

Oops! Apparently these research centers weren't "under investigation".
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 1, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
Fnarf 18
@17, Christ, this org has really come out of the closet, eh? They're a full-on Jesus Agenda organization, aren't they.
Posted by Fnarf on February 1, 2012 at 5:10 PM · Report this
@14 and 16, I've already told the people I've sponsored in the 3 day before that I would be more than happy to sponsor them again provided the money goes to planned parenthood. As far as I know there's nothing that prevents people from walking the route without signing up for the walkathon via Komen. Maybe, some one should organize a very public simultaneous PP walkathon?
Posted by gdcv on February 1, 2012 at 5:34 PM · Report this
How about organizing a run/race for Planned Parenthood?
Posted by know-it-all on February 1, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this
Oops. @21 Beat me to it.

I'd love to run a 5K for Planned Parenthood.
Posted by know-it-all on February 1, 2012 at 5:36 PM · Report this
@17 - next to the LDS singles site, that has got to be the scariest site I've ever encountered. OMG.
Posted by StuckInUtah on February 1, 2012 at 5:38 PM · Report this
Y.F. Redux 25
Look, if you need Planned Parenthood's free breast exams and mammograms and SGK is cutting PP's funding, all your fundraising/charitable efforts need to go to PP...and not to SGK. Drop them like a$$holes they are and don't look back. SGK does little or nothing for breast cancer really. They're about raising "awareness". Much like PETA and animal rights, they're more about raising money for their CEO and staff's very generous salaries and mailing out literature than actually doing anything. SGK doesn't do screening, treating, researching, or curing cancer of any sort. They are a business that pink washes corporate sponsors. Your money and time is better spent elsewhere on folks who actually do work toward curing cancer.
Posted by Y.F. Redux on February 1, 2012 at 5:45 PM · Report this
Why is no one talking about the general dysfunctionality of a health system that excludes people that are most vulnerable (high cancer risk) and people without good job benefits? Planned Parenthood is helping to fill that gap, but it's still a bandaid fix. Let's face it: it's not Susan Komen's responsibility that everyone have access to basic care and preventative screening. Advocate for real health reform!
Posted by Jen234 on February 1, 2012 at 5:53 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 27
@24: Hah! It's a site that Komen would pander to, not my usual reading material :p

Enjoy another scary site, as I'm all pinked out.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 1, 2012 at 5:55 PM · Report this
Free Lunch 28
I've sponsored at least two people every time for this event. There's no way I'm sponsoring anyone now.
Posted by Free Lunch on February 1, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
@22,23 I think a simultaneous walk on the same route with everyone wearing PP shirts would make it especially impactful.
Posted by gdcv on February 1, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
Posted by gdcv on February 1, 2012 at 8:20 PM · Report this
undead ayn rand 31…

Welp. they have a history of lobbying for GOP causes and against womens' health when it's federally funded.
Posted by undead ayn rand on February 2, 2012 at 7:44 AM · Report this

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