When I was 33, Mom and Pop Moore were staying with me. Mom was undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for breast cancer. For those of you who have been around a loved one with cancer, I don't have to explain. For those of you who haven't, nothing can prepare you for it.
It is remarkably painful.
It was Monday morning. I felt a lump. I was lying on my back in bed. I still remember the spot on the ceiling I was staring at. I had a 7-year-old daughter. The reality of my mother's pain down the hall filled my eyes with tears.
I called Planned Parenthood. They understood the urgency through my panic and tears. "We'll fit you in tomorrow morning."
On Tuesday. Jo, my new doctor, found two lumps.
She called the best breast cancer surgeon, Dr. Laurie Bleicher, who sent me over for a biopsy. I explained I didn't have insurance. A woman at Planned Parenthood said she'd write a grant.
By Friday, I was in surgery. Saved.
On the morning of my 40th birthday, I woke up early to join Mom and Pop for a Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk in Homer. I walked past lanterns with the names of women I loved who had died of the pink ribbon disease. Beloved coach and friend, Alice Witte. Bev Englishbee, mother and ever-smiling woman at piano recitals.
We walked in their memory We raised money. We prayed for a cure.
Walkers camped on the ball field and woke up to the Lions Club making breakfast by the track. Looking over Kachemak Bay, basking in the warm June sun, how could we not find a cure?
Last week, the Susan G. Komen Foundation pulled $680,000 in annual funding for breast cancer screening from Planned Parenthood. Back in November, Komen had quietly pulled $12 million from embryonic stem cell research centers. Both decisions leaving no doubt that the foundation has morphed from a nonpolitical nonprofit to a full-on, right-wing, agenda-driven political organization undeserving of its 501c3 status. (One thing Komen didn't pull was its CEO's $460,000-a-year paycheck.)
The realization that I'd been manipulated to contribute to a cause only to see it abandon that cause for politics nauseated me.
Pink has become a political industry. Pink ribbons, pink toasters, pink Kitchen-Aids, pink sweatshirts, pink yogurt or buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken (yes, it comes in pink buckets now).
The NFL and our Aces go pink. For a price, the Komen Foundation will even slap a pink ribbon on "beauty" products containing suspected carcinogens.
At the end of last week, because of the enormous backlash against its machinations, Komen devised a PR stunt and announced it would reinstate Planned Parenthood's breast cancer screenings -- for the rest of this year.
Taking breast cancer screening away from poor women to prove you're "pro-life" is pathetic. True, the Komen Foundation can spend its earnings however it chooses, but I won't walk for them again.
Which brings me to "pro-life."
"Pro-life" has to mean more than "pro-birth."
I'm pro-life because I'm for health care for all; food security for children in school and at home; labor laws that ensure a living wage for workers; respect and dignity for the elderly; quality education for rich and poor children alike; abolition of the death penalty; ending wars; and ensuring a healthy environment.
I don't need a pink ribbon from the political hacks at Susan G. Komen. I've shopped for wigs with my mother. I've looked up at the anesthesiologist before surgery. I've earned my pink ribbon.
I'll wear it to union rallies, assembly meetings, the PTA and the Legislature, wherever I have to go to advance causes that truly are pro-life.
Shannyn Moore can be heard weekdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on KOAN 1020 AM/95.5 FM radio. Her weekly TV show can be seen Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m. on KYUR Channel 13.