Tuesday, October 15, 2013

A Breast Cancer Survivor Asks Prudence an Important Question:

Q: Breast Cancer Remission: I have been in remission for breast cancer for about four years now. I was fortunate to have good health insurance and a supportive network or friends and family during my treatment and recovery. Every October I grapple with the same problem: I feel no loyalty or desire to help out with breast cancer awareness funds.

To be quite blunt, I find most national campaigns to be impersonal, they do not score very highly on the charity calculator, and they were not there for me when I was suffering. I am also not particularly interesting in doing any of the 5Ks or other events in October. I find the best way to help breast cancer sufferers is to donate and volunteer at the local level.

Every year I get a lot of inquiries if I am participating in different campaigns or activities and when I say no, there is always a bit of an awkward pause. I don't really want to get into why I choose to support the local level more than national, and I don't want people to think I am insensitive to the needs of those with breast cancer. What is a good response to their inquiries?

A: Thank you for standing against this pink ribbon oppression. Both my grandmother and mother had breast cancer, and I, too, have no interest in buying pink ribbon yogurt, or participating in walks for the purpose of handing a big chunk of cash to overpaid executives.

You might like the books Pink Ribbon Blues and Bright-Sided, which explore both the dark side of big breast cancer charities and the incessant cheerleading imposed on breast cancer survivors. Mostly, you need a way to shrug off the inquiries. "I give to cancer organizations that help people in this community," should be enough to shut up most people.

But if you're up for it, you could do a little breast cancer education of your own and say that unfortunately, some of the big breast cancer charities do not use their money effectively.

- Dear Prudence, Slate.
Yes, it's October again.

Mammograms are important. There are locations around the nation and the world where women can receive a mammogram at low cost or no cost.  If you are in the US, here are a few places to start your search gleaned from various sources (cited):

* The American Breast Cancer Foundation’s Key to Life Breast Cancer Screening Assistance Program provides financial assistance to uninsured and underinsured women and men of all ages for breast cancer testing. Call their toll-free enrollment hotline, 877-Key-2-Life (877-539-2543).

* The American Cancer Society. Go to cancer.org, find the blue box on the upper right (“Find ACS in Your Community”), enter your zip code, and it’ll direct you to your local ACS office. They can tell you what resources are available in your area. Or call the ACS toll-free: 1-800-ACS-2345.

* The American College of Radiology - Search for these facilities in your area. The facilities that are participating will be listed with a pink ribbon designation.

* CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Programs: Offer low-cost mammograms and clinical breast exams to women between the ages of 40-64. States are legally able to narrow the age range, so call your state to find out if you are eligible for this program. They may also have information about other facilities in their area for younger women. Call toll-free 1-888-842-6355 (select option 7) or log onto the above Web site for information specific to your area.

* To find a certified radiology center in your area, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Web site offers a list of facilities, which is updated weekly. Just click here.

* Planned Parenthood Clinics: Women can make an appointment for all types of low-cost or free health services, including breast health, with the clinic nearest them by calling 1-800-230-PLAN (800-230-7526).

* The United States Center for Disease Control’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides access to critical breast and cervical cancer screening services for underserved women in the United States. Their Web site lets you click to your state to find a local health care facility that offers low-cost mammograms for women meeting the income guidelines. Click here.

* The United States Government’s National Cancer Institute can direct you to a local resource for low-cost mammograms. Call them toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). Be ready with your zip code. Click here.

* YWCA Encore Plus Programs: Services are provided on a sliding scale. Screening mammography is available to women 35 years and older who are medically underserved. Call 1-800-95-EPLUS (1-800-953-7587).

* Finally, try calling your local hospital. Ask to speak to a social worker. He or she will be the one who’ll know about the availability of low-cost cancer screenings and/or special campaigns in your community.
- CBS News, Liv Aware. Jezebel. This blog.

Donations are also important. 

But please donate wisely. If you would like to donate (time or money) try these:

* Breast Cancer Action - "We demand accountability.

* See also: 'Think before you pink' campaign, demanding transparency in pink-washed product marketing.

"A cure is not enough. We have to prevent it. The cures we have aren't working."

 - Executive Director Karuna Jaggar.


* American Cancer Society - Donations intended for breast cancer research and screening can be earmarked to support NBCCEDP (the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program). They have focused heavily on social disparities as they relate to cancer diagnosis and treatment, and have awarded more than $113 million in grants to researchers looking into social disparity as it relates to cancer. 


* The National Breast Cancer Coalition - They aim to promote research into causes of breast cancer and the best possible treatment for the disease, access to treatment for all women, and encourage breast cancer advocates to speak up and stand up against the disease.


* The Breast Cancer Research Foundation - Ninety cents of every dollar donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation goes to supporting breast cancer research. (Komen only gives about 20 cents per dollar to research) 


* Unite For Her - Unite For Her aims to help breast cancer patients integrate other therapies that would complement the care they're being given by their doctors. Think acupuncture, massage, yoga, counseling, and other treatments that address a woman's spiritual and emotional needs during what could be a long and difficult fight against cancer.

The organization's aim is to "educate, empower, and restore."

Further Resources: {here}

My prior posts about BC: here & here & here & here & here & here.