Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A post to SGK about why I don't support them...

I'm reading your [Susan G Komen's] press release about your donations to Planned Parenthood. This statement stuck out to me.

"And while Komen Affiliates provide funds to pay for screening, education and treatment programs in dozens of communities, in some areas, the only place that poor, uninsured or under-insured women can receive these services are through programs run by Planned Parenthood."

If you truly think that - not only are you apparently incapable of thorough research, you are also sadly mistaken. Even in poor areas citiy, county, AND free clinics ALL perform almost all the same services that PP does - EXCEPT abortions. I live in a state where the only PP facilities are over 2 hours away. My area is rural and therefore poor. Our state-wide average income is significantly below the nation-wide average. However, we have city, county, and free clinics where the poor can get the healthcare they need. Why not fund these clinics instead of Planned Parenthood?

Your press release also indicates that you closely monitor how the funds are used at PP. While its commendable that you monitor the situation, you must be deluding yourself to think that a) the reports are entirely accurate and b) that your funds don't help pay for the 'controversial' aspects of PP. The ex-director of a TX PP facility has explained how creative expansion/condension is used to give the illusion that certain services are performed at higher rates than others. She detailed the bundling of abortion care visits as one - even if there were several visits. She also detailed the UN-bundling of birth control, cancer screenings, etc - even if all the actions took place at one time. In her example, if a months supply of contraception was given to a woman, the accounting showed 30 visits. However, if a woman came in for a consultation for abortion one day, had an abortion another day, and came back in for a post-abortion check-up and/or for complications, the accounting showed only one visit. This creative accounting is further appplied to organizations like yours who "try" to control where their funds are used.
As for your dellusion that your funding doesn't help PP fund abortions, let me give you a real-world example. If you know someone is a drug addict and you give them money - you are complicit in their further drug use. Even if they swear the $$ you give them goes only to feed themselves (or their family), the fact is that ANY $$ given to them frees up MORE $$ for them to spend on drugs. So even if PP doesn't use your funds to directly fund abortions, the fact that you give them $$ AT ALL, allows them to provide abortions by giving them more $$ from other parts of their budget to devote to abortion. Another example is slightly repulsive (but I think your ties to PP are repulsive, so...). If I bake brownies, but use 10% feces to extend the batter, would YOU eat them? No matter what piece you take out of the brownie pan, there's going to be a portion of feces in your sample. This same logic works with your organization and its association with PP.
Your press release also uses two "Catholic" ethicists to validate your donations to PP. However, what you failed to realize is that the Catholic Church did NOT endorse their statements. There are also Catholics who believe that abortions are ok. However, the Church teachings and laws PROHIBIT abortions. The Catholic Church has even come out with statements directly from the Vatican indicating that supporting political candidates who further abortion vocally is IMMORAL. The Vatican allows local bishops to refuse the Eucharist to abortion supporting politicians. The Eucharist for us is "real food and real drink" and gives us graces to join closer with God. In other words, the Eucharist is not just some symbol that is easily bandied about and given without consequence. Therefore, while the Vatican hasn't directly come out with a statement against PP or your organization, the ground-work is present.
The Catholic Church also has written into Church law that the ends CANNOT justify the means. Therefore, the "Catholic" ethicists' statement, "The good that Komen does and the harm that would come to so many women if Komen ceased to exist or ceased to be funded would seem to be a sufficiently proportionate reason” is directly counter to what the Catholic Church actually teaches. If you also notice, these ethicists couch their statement with the ambiguous wording "would seem". The truth is these ethicists DON'T know. The Catholic Church ALWAYS teaches us to err on the side of caution - especially when matters of life & death are at the forefront.
Before anyone reading this thinks that the Catholic Church doesn't care for women in crisis pregnancies, suffering from cancers, etc, do a little research. The Catholic Church has MANY of its own charities that provide care and loving options for women in these situations. As a matter of fact, most of the Catholic charities of this ilk continue to care for women in these situations long after the decision has been made and the baby (in the case of a crisis pregnancy) grows and develops into a toddler. The same is true of the Pro-Life organizations - their care, prayers, and support continue past the pregnancy phase & into the life stage for both mother AND baby. The Catholic Church also teaches that God can and does forgive our failings. However, if our failings are repetitive with no effort to reconcile or reform, the Church leaves the final judgement to God. The Catholic Church teaches to "love the sinner, but hate the sin." The basic summary of this is that we can judge actions as right or wrong (or even ambiguous), but we love, offer support and prayers, and encourage people of all walks of life to strive to live holy lives. We all rely on God's mercy.
As for the absence of a link between breast cancer and abortion, while there are studies that refute the link, there are also studies that acknowledge the link. Again, the truly *caring* option would be to err on the side of caution. However, in absence of an organization following that credo, there is other evidence in the medical community that other "services" provided by PP INCREASE breast cancer risks (as well as other breast cancers). For instance, a respected study found that for an unknown reason, women who used hormonal birth control were more likely to suffer from triple negative (TN) breast cancer than their non-birth control counter-parts. The women effected by this are often younger than the 'typical' woman with breast cancer as well. Triple negative breast cancer is one of the most devastating forms of breast cancer because it is typically very fast growing AND does NOT respond to any of the preventative drugs available currently.
These articles below are more current than the 2008 article you cite in your PR piece. The fact of the matter is that breast cancer rates have increased since birth control and abortions became more common. The exact cause-effect relationship is unknown, but it seems logical to again err on the side of caution until more evidence can be performed.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21446095 article about breast cancer & birth control
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20068186 article about TN breast cancer & birth control
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19462841 article about breast cancer & abortion
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20364336 article about breast cancer & abortion
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19356229 article about breast cancer & abortion
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19771534 article about breast cancer & abortion
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18771039 article about barriers to the truth about abortion/birth control as they relate to breast (and other) cancers

So, in my opinion, if your purpose is to TRULY reduce breast cancer, your organization should not support any other organization that provides abortions and/or wide-spread birth control use. More research needs to be conducted to identify the true relationship of the various risk factors and breast cancers (as well as other cancers). Perhaps that is the direction SGK should go instead of sending funds to PP.


PS: For what it's worth, I am an almost 2 year breast cancer survivor (BRCA1 TN Stage II). I was diagnosed at 20 weeks pregnant with my daughter. I was only 28. I had never been on birth control or had an induced abortion (although I did have 4 miscarriages as well as one successful birth 21 months prior to my daughter's birth). I took chemotherapy while pregnant, delivered a healthy baby girl exactly on her due date (no c-section or inducement necessary), and began more chemotherapy after delivery. I have also had a bilateral mastectomy, my ovaries removed, as well as my uterus removed. I am constantly bombarded with well-meaning people who would like to donate to your organization in my name. They would like to Race for the Cure, etc, but I always try to politely thank them & steer them away from your organization because of your ties to PP. While I don't know it as fact (since I've never set foot in a PP), I am reasonably sure that had I gone to PP for my diagnosis my daughter would be in a biohazard bag instead of at her grandmother's playing as only a 16 month old can. The other option presented me by PP would probably mean neither she nor I survived. The ACS, sadly enough, would probably have given me the same advice. However, I found MD Anderson in Houston, TX. They have been giving pregnant women chemotherapy for at least 20 years with no problems in the children. Other cancer centers have as well. However, most places do not recognize that pregnant women have BETTER survival & prognosis if they maintain their pregnancies AND get treatment than non-pregnant women or those who abort. This erroneous information is something SGK should correct as it affects about 1 in 3000 women diagnosed with breast cancer (not to mention other cancers). However, until my diagnosis I'd never heard of such a thing. Again, that would be something else SGK should use their $$ to promote instead of PP.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How much is too much?

If you're a follower of mine, you'll know that I'm constantly wondering and/or pushing the limits of how much is too much. I struggle on the one hand to fulfill my obligations and on the other to do "extra" things that make life easier for me or some one else. I have a hard time self-limiting my activites and even my thoughts. As a matter of fact, I think this one of the lessons I'm STILL working on mastering from my cancer journey.

My husband is reticent about broadcasting what he considers personal information. He is the master of either avoiding answering/talking or gives the most simple answers possible. On the other hand, I struggle to know exactly what other people want to hear from me. When someone greets you and says, "How are you doing?" do you give a simple answer like "fine" or a more elaborate one that details some of your struggles, triumphs, weaknesses, and strengths?

I tend to be a talker for one thing. I generally tend to feel the need to explain myself a lot. I also feel compelled to share my journey - particularly the most harrowing parts. These harrowing parts include: the death of close members of my family (both grandmothers, an uncle, a great-grandfather, etc all within a relatively short time period of a bout 2 years), the death of my first fiance (first boyfriend of two), 4 miscarriages with one with serious complications, chemotherapy while pregnant, more chemotherapy after delivery, bilateral mastectomies with expander reconstruction, bilateral oophorectomy with severe surgical complications, emergency hysterectomy, surgical menopause problems including absent mindedness, hot flashes, and panic attacks, a week-long stay in the hospital with my miracle baby due to stomach virus induced dehydration, and a husband that suffers from anxiety and back problems. I feel that my harrowing experiences can help others deal with theirs. As I read that statement, I realize that it sounds as if I believe I'm super-woman and/or extraordinary. Actually, that's not true, its just that I know my experiences have not been the 'norm' -- especially for women my age. Therefore, I think I've learned some things through these experiences, that other women -- especially those close to my age or even younger -- can benefit from hearing about. I have also been told by numerous people that I put a very positive spin on my experiences. Some people have even told me that hearing/knowing what I've been through has helped them put a positive spin on their own challenges.

So this weekend I was at the Tot, Teen, & Wardrobe consignment sale and found myself chatting with various people (typically women) about my journey with cancer while pregnant and my motherhood since then. It is not my intention to get pity or kudos for the challenges God has put to me. Instead, it feels like my mission -- dictated by God and the Holy Spirit -- to spread the word about the possibility of maintaining a pregnancy while undergoing chemotherapy. I will also confess that it is somewhat cathartic to tell my story. Every time I share my journey, I realize how far I've come. I also realize that the small day-to-day struggles I (everyone?) faces pale in comparison to the big struggles I've fought.

However, I know that some people -- especially those who are faced with different challenges -- sometimes feel that my challenges over-shadow their own. These people feel uncomfortable complaining of their own challenges -- even when their own challenges are tremendous. I also know/fear that some people simply do not want to hear such long drawn-out answers to superficial questions.

Something else I think sharing my story does is shine God's light. I was/am truly blessed to have been given God's help through my struggles. I was/am truly blessed to have assistance from family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers. Without the assistance of all of the above, I could NOT have survived and thrived as I have. I try to always mention that fact when sharing my journey. The journey was arduous, but with so many hands clasped in prayer and offered in assistance, how could I do anything but survive and thrive? It's like the hymn, How Can I Keep from Singing. How can I keep my blessings amid challenges and the victory over these challenges through these blessings to myself? How can I NOT share God's wonderful gift to me with others?

So, please, tell me -- how much is too much when casually chatting with strangers?

My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!