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Theresa Larson I will continue to support, wear pink ribbon with pride

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Theresa Larson

Posted: Monday, November 1, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 6:51 am, Mon Nov 1, 2010.

A few years ago, I entered a local restaurant wearing my pink ribbons and denim in support of Geweke's Pink October fundraising efforts. The young man behind the counter expressed his pink ribbon fatigue, admitted he simply did not "get it," and stated he did not know what the fuss was all about.

I must have taken on a physical transformation that readily showed on my face and in my body language for the young man physically took a step back from the counter. I attempted to put a smile on my face, but the tone in my voice was definitely icy.

"I'll attribute your comment to your youth and I'll assume by your remark that you've been fortunate enough to never witness a loved one endure the ravages of breast cancer. For if you had, you might understand much better what all the pink ribbon 'fuss' is about. I am a breast cancer survivor and I pray to God you never have to experience any of this firsthand."

I think I may have undergone that same physical transformation last weekend as I read Joe Guzzardi's take on the sea of pink during the month of October. He called the displays of pink by the NFL "absurd" and the "pink effort misguided." He further stated that sale of pink ribbon items by corporate America is really all about cash register ringing.

I say, so what?

When I buy an item with a pink ribbon logo, I know that it is simply an item with a pink ribbon logo. If a company makes a bit of money off that, so what? Last time I checked, we are nation that is based on the concept of capitalism. If they donate any amount of money to any breast cancer foundation or organization, then so much the better.

I agree that there are organizations touting themselves to be fundraisers for the cause, and with some of those organizations, very little ever makes it to the programs that benefit breast cancer patients or research programs. To that I say, "caveat emptor." If you're concerned about claims of donations to breast cancer causes, do your homework, ask the questions, get your answers. But painting ALL fundraising efforts with the same ugly brush of disdain is simply unfair.

The Geweke foundation does a marvelous job of raising funds to help with financial support of women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The Stockton Thunder dons pink jerseys during the first weekend in November and donates proceeds to the mobile mammography unit from St. Joseph Hospital. Cleavage Creek Winery donates 10 percent of gross sales to breast cancer programs and research. Yoplait Yogurt, Ford Motor Company and Avon. There are many businesses and organizations that do a fine job of supporting breast cancer programs and research.

Joe seems to be stating that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, because despite all the money that has been raised and spent during the pink wave of Octobers, we are no closer to finding a cure.

He's right, there is no cure. But there has been progress.

Thanks to research, a targeted therapy for aggressive HER2neu breast cancers has been found. Thanks to research, a genetic mutation for breast and ovarian cancer, called BRCA, was discovered. Thanks to advances in treatment and early detection, fewer women are dying of breast cancer. Thanks to studies about the dangers of hormone therapy, fewer women are being diagnosed with the disease. Thanks to advances in surgical techniques, women are no longer butchered when their breasts need to be removed. And I attribute all of this to the widespread, loudly insistent voices of women (and quite a few men) spreading the wave of pink during October.

Does it detract from funding research and support for other cancers as Joe has asserted? I think not. Instead it serves as an example of what can be done when people band together. And cancer research in one area often leads to cancer discoveries and applications in another.

For me, as a breast cancer survivor, the pink ribbon is a symbol. It has evolved over time from its infancy as the symbol of fundraising to fight cancer. It has become a symbol of hope, a symbol of achievement, a symbol of survivorship and a symbol of sisterhood. The pink movement is a way and means of bringing women together as one cohesive force to keep breast cancer in the limelight, in order to force changes in treatment and advances in research, and provide support to thousands of women battling this disease.

And, I for one, will proudly continue to spread the pink wave.

Theresa Larson is the News-Sentinel's director of administration.

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  • Brian Dockter posted at 5:08 pm on Sun, Nov 7, 2010.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Jackson wrote:

    Joe points out the NFL. Did he do any research into the NFL's tie-in?

    Perhaps you're not aware of the misappropriation of funds when the NFL had a tie-in with the United Way some years back. Not only Joe, but many of us think the NFL is back to their shananegens and the next victims are those with breast cancer. Take a look and see how much money the United Way actually got after the NFL skimmed their share.

  • Brian Dockter posted at 5:01 pm on Sun, Nov 7, 2010.

    Brian Dockter Posts: 2866

    Jackson wrote:

    Of course we recognize that alot of the products jumping on the Breast Cancer bandwagon are doing it for PR & profits, but the more money towards research the better.

    Even though you echo the sentiments of Joe Guzzardi about the PR & profits you still choose to smear him. And nowhere in Joe's column did he imply he was against
    the money going to research. How convenient it is for you to not echo his sentiments
    that he is not against breast cancer research. Instead you choose to cast him off as someone insensitive and could care less if these people die. Perhaps it is you that is about as sensitive as an anvil.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 3:10 pm on Mon, Nov 1, 2010.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 392

    Thank you Theresa! I had the same reaction to Joe's column too, and thought this guy must be as sensitive as an anvil.

    As the husband of a 10yr Survivor I proudly support Pink October by wearing a pink ribbon lapel pin or a pink livestrong type bracelet. My wife & I have also participated in several of the Geweke events here in town, as well as the Komen "Race for the Cure" walk in Sacramento.

    Of course we recognize that alot of the products jumping on the Breast Cancer bandwagon are doing it for PR & profits, but the more money towards research the better. Our prayer is to find a cure before our young daughter becomes 37, the age of my wife when she was diagnosed.

    Joe points out the NFL. Did he do any research into the NFL's tie-in? Just from watching tv I learned this past month that Commissioner Roger Goodell's own mother had breast cancer? Or that Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder's wife is also a survivor? For more info on the NFL's PINK program visit www.nfl.com/pink

    As many other readers have asked, why is Joe still a columnist now that he lives in PA?

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:18 am on Mon, Nov 1, 2010.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Excellent column, Mrs. Larson! While I do not have anyone in my family afflicted by breast cancer, colon cancer is prevalent - my Dad and several of his siblings succombed to this horrifying form of cancer.

    I agree that all cancer research benefits the fight against cancer in general - the potential treatments that may not work against one form of cancer, may work for another. Supporting "pink" October helps fight this devastating disease for all of humanity.


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