Tattered Ribbon

tattered-ribbon

A few yeas ago the Susan G Komen Foundation asked for my support for a Race for the Cure event. My Company had been supportive of the event by donating time, money and merchandise. They were expecting us to continue. I told them no, we would not support their cause because my wife was going through breast cancer. I told her that I needed to focus my energy on getting Janet healthy again.

The truth of the matter is that organizations like the Susan G Komen Foundation make me mad. Who cares how cute and pretty their Pink Ribbon campaign is. Breast cancer isn’t cute and pretty. It’s scary and ugly. It’s devastating to the victims and their families. The prostrate cancer that killed my Dad is devastating.

It makes me sick to see so many companies jump on the bandwagon of making things Pink just for the sake of claiming that they’re for “breast cancer”. I am so sick and tired of companies making money off of it without contributing 100% of the proceeds to actual cancer research. Komen is a corporate marketing enterprise allowing big businesses to wrap themselves in the aura of women’s health. The insulting part is how LITTLE of the money made from these Pink Ribbons actually gets donated. The Susan G Komen CEO Nancy Brinker was paid a salary of $417,171 in 2011. Nonprofit my ass.

If you want to make a change, don’t buy advertising. Donate directly to an organization doing cancer research. Or better yet, donate bone marrow and blood. Visit patients in a cancer ward. Best yet, reach out to a family affected by cancer.

The real crime here is how little support most families get when a loved one is stricken by cancer. Cancer is a darkness that can consume the entire family if it isn’t confronted with. I have a front row perspective on this, and it isn’t pretty.

Fighting the Health Insurance companies to get treatment for your wife when she needs it? There were an insane amount of sign-offs needed by various providers to get lab work, MRIs, x-rays, biopsies, medication, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgeries in place. Trying to decipher the stack of medical bills coming in and finding nuggets like a $35 charge for a single 200mg Tylenol Tablet. How about $120 for an icepack? All in all, I spent nearly $60,000 over two years in co-pays and deductibles. Can someone explain to me what exactly an Health Insurance Company does? I think I know the answer – they exist to make a profit by playing arbitrage between you and the health care providers. If I was king for a day, I would outlaw Health Insurance companies and institute a single-payer system. Fuck ‘em. Like yesterday.

I remember leaving the office early on Janet’s Chemo days so I could take her in. And getting yelled at by the owner of my Company for leaving work early. I remember bringing Janet home after a particularly nasty chemo session, getting her into the bed, and having to keep the kids out of the bedroom so Janet could get some sleep. And having the kids so confused and not understanding that Doctor’s orders were to get to sleep. I remember having to hold down the Company operations and run the kids around and keep the house running. And how lonely it was.

It was hard having people come up and ask what they could do to help. I wan’t sure how to answer that. Several people came over anyway. They helped me cook and clean. Some bought over dinner for us. I remember Savannah’s extended Soccer Team family gave us a phenomenal gift basket. Courtney’s Girl Scout troop also put together a great care package for us. I’ll never forget that.

My advice is this. If you know of a close one that has been stricken by cancer, go over their house to help. Talk to their spouse, for it is he/she that needs to be strong for their spouse and kids. That person need help getting through this too. Talk to them, listen to their fears. Help them focus on what they need to do to get their family healthy again. Help them understand that they are in the fight of their life. Help them understand that they need to take care of themselves in order to take care of their family. Let them know that you are thinking of them and not just their stricken spouse. Let them know you care about them also.

Every bit helps.