For the Cure to a broken heart


First a recap. For the past four days we have been bombarded with information about the decision by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to remove funding from 18 Planned Parenthood sites, using the reasoning that they don't fund any organization under investigation. Well, within about 12hours it became clear that the decision came straight from the office of Karen Handel the new Komen Vice President of Policy and a former Georgia office holder and gubernatorial candidate who is anti-abortion and has even gone so far as to say she is anti-Planned Parenthood.Now there is enough evidence to confirm that the decision to stop funding organizations under investigation was made in December specifically to stop funding Planned Parenthood, and again it was Handel that drove the decision. Komen has been down the Planned Parenthood path a number of times in the past decade and had made what everyone thought was a final decision–-it would be funded. But that was before someone recommended Karen Handel as the best person for the job of Vice President of Policy.That person is known in the ranks of Komen as someone who mixes a particularly powerful batch of Kool-Aid that Nancy Brinker has become addicted to.So where are we? Komen stands by its decision, but now Nancy Brinker goes on television to say it's a policy change to give money to direct service organizations, not pass through groups, which means they want to give the money to the groups that do the mammograms and Planned Parenthood evidently doesn't do that, they must send women out and then pay for it from Komen funds. So why the switch?Personally, I think Nancy considered what their decision would mean for poor women in Dallas who go to Parkland Hospital, which, I am fairly sure gets Komen funds for its screening program and has been under investigation for two years – and found guilty, by the way, in areas that don't pertain to screening. And no one thought about this before?Komen is in a mess and this is where the broken hearts come in. At the first headline, I blew it off. Komen has been a target before, a lot. They are big, they raise a lot of money, and the well over 100 affiliates raise money through the Race for the Cure, 75 percent of which is kept local for their own screening, education and treatment needs. This money reaches the very poorest of the poor and the women who work tirelessly for Komen affiliates make a real and tangible difference in the lives of these women. These are the salt of the earth of the American heartland where women are proud to take care of each other and dedicate thousands of hours a year to do just that.Speaking around the country at Komen events, I have met hundreds of Komen volunteers and I would be proud to call any of them a friend. I have never asked anyone if she was a Democrat or Republican or if she was for or against abortion.With the 25 percent the national foundation receives they fund numerous other projects including basic research, and as a 25-year and 7-year survivor, and a woman who lost her mother to breast cancer, I count on research to be sure my daughter doesn't have to face this disease, and if she does, she lives through it.I have been president of the board of two nonprofits funded by Komen, one, the Bridge Network, provides direct support to women diagnosed with breast cancer who have no insurance. The other was Gilda's Club North Texas, now Cancer Support Community. These programs would have had a much harder time without Komen.But what has really broken my heart this week is talking to the women who built the foundation, some of whom spent upwards of 20 years committed to this cause. The woman who created the policy office at Komen, a survivor herself, spent endless hours in the halls of Congress during her 10-year tenure, which ended in 2008. She worked both sides of the aisle to overcome any idea that Komen was politically driven. She also convinced the leaders of our country that this organization was about more than pink ribbons, it was about the power of the vote. She organized advocacy groups before we understood what advocacy was about. For 10 years she grew the office, only to watch the newest occupant, who has been with Komen nine months, bring it down in two days.These were strong women who wouldn't take no for an answer, just the way Nancy Brinker wouldn't when she started the organization as a promise to her sister. There are some of the "old guard" left, women who took Komen to the heights in the nonprofit world to make it what it was on Monday of this week: An organization committed to ending breast cancer that was built on integrity and very decidedly non political – because breast cancer doesn't care what you believe, it is an equal opportunity killer. There is no place for politics at Komen. There are many of us who fear that Komen will not be able to recover from this in part because of the way it has been handled. If I had been Karen Handel, I would have offered my resignation immediately, and I was hoping she would have the honor to do that. Then I saw the retweet she posted, "Just like pro-abortion group to turn cancer orgs decision into a political bomb to throw. Cry me a freaking river" and feared the worse. This woman has no grace, no courage and an ego that doesn't care if she brings down in nine months what it took others 30 years to build. Resign Karen. You owe it to a lot of people.1:27 p.m. Nancy Brinker has made a statement that includes the following"We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligiblity to apply for future grants," Nancy G. Brinker, the agency's ambassador, said in a statement. So Handel is still there and to shut down the firestorm, PP can apply. This does not mean they will be funded.

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