Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Take

It's been a tough day around here. 

It's no secret Team Tiara and the Komen 3-Day for the Cure are very, very much a part of my life.  It's no secret that I've literally walked my butt of for breast cancer research.  Today, I've felt very much under attack. 

Let's back up.  And put this in perspective. I've been walking in the DFW 3-Day for the Cure for what seems forever. This is my 7th year to walk, and to date our team has raised $600,000. 

Last week, I wrote to Komen asking them to please find a way to support uninsured women without partnering with Planned Parenthood.  That partnership wasn't a huge deal to me personally -- I hate abortion and have very personal reasons for doing so.  BUT at the same time I knew Komen funds were only being used for breast health services.  I know that Planned Parenthood is about a lot more than abortions.

My concern was that as a conservative Christian in the South, not all my peers were aware of the facts. And many of them weren't prepared to listen to the facts.  The Planned Parenthood link was a non-issue when I first became involved with the 3-Day. Two years ago, it became an "October" issue.  Now it's a year-round issue. 

By that, I mean that we were hearing more and more about Komen being a bunch of baby-killers.  That it was guilt by association. That WE were guilty by association.  The attacks had become personal.  The discussions were heated.  

And the fact of the matter is.... Planned Parenthood really doesn't need Komen dollars to do what they do.  Really, they don't. 

I'm in this thing for one reason and one reason only. To find a CURE for breast cancer.  To stop this disease that took my Mom before it takes one of my daughters, too. This isn't a quest for "Komen" per say, and it's certainly not a quest on behalf of Planned Parenthood. It's a quest for LIFE.  

But that wasn't always the way it was viewed.  And the link with Planned Parenthood was compromising numbers, donations and morale.  Even when you know the truth, it's hard to keep plugging on when you feel like you're under constant attack. 

Believe me, I can "discuss" with the best of them.  And it seemed ironic that we were all campaigning for the same thing -- a right to life.  The anti-Planned Parenthood crew was angry that unborn babies weren't being given life -- and that they perceived Komen to be a part of that. I was angry that walking, talking, laundry-washing, kid-chasing Mamas didn't have a right to life under that philosophy.  It was like being on a merry-go-round with a herd of really crazy kids and no way to get off. 

So I wrote to Komen.  The very same Komen that has just become HUGE over the years -- so huge that it takes a lot to turn things around.  I got no response..... 

Other than the hurricane that has hit my inbox in the last 36 hours. 

As of right now, the disappointment I feel in the 3-Day community is palpable.  The firestorm this has whipped up has been insane.  I don't expect the media to utilize judgement -- they've proven that's impossible. But I expect more of the 3-Day Community than they have delivered today. 

Really friends, are you kidding me???

To all of you who immediately drew a line in the sand and said you'd never walk another mile or raise another dollar for Komen -- how is that any less political than you claim Komen's decision to be?  Having dealt with the pro-life side of this issue, I can tell you that at their worst those attacking Komen for working through Planned Parenthood were never as bitter and ugly as you have shown yourselves to be.  

Are you kidding me????

I'm proud to be a 3-Day walker. I'm proud of the $80 MILLION we raised through the 14-Event series last year.  I'm proud to have a role in the advances that have been made in the last seven years, not to mention the 30-year history of Komen. 

Did you know the Planned Parenthood connection has only been around for seven years?  Not since Adam and Eve, as many people would lead you to believe?  How do you negate all the good Komen has done in 30 years?  Many of you wouldn't be alive if it weren't for Komen.  Because of Komen, we got four more years with my Mom. Four years got us to a point where Kait remembers her.  Four years where she got to see softball games and Kindergarten and birthdays with bounce houses.  

Did you know Komen only gave Planned Parenthood $680,000 in grants last year?  That's right.  Only $680,000.  Remember, the 3-Day for the Cure series raised over $80 MILLION. $680,000 is SUCH a drop in the bucket.  

As far as I can tell, the problem here isn't that Komen pulled their support of Planned Parenthood. It's not that this is ticking off the whole pro-choice crowd.  Remember, just last week an equal number of pro-life people hated Komen.  

The problem is that Komen really, really sucks at PR.  There's just no other way to say it.  Komen should have been out in front of this a month ago with a clear game plan illustrating how they plan to fill the gaps and make sure no uninsured women fell through the cracks. They should have been proactive and transparent.  Unfortunately, Komen has become to big to be transparent.  True transparency would most assuredly tick off a LOT of the people who donate to them. But that's another discussion for another day. 

They never should have let Planned Parenthood fly the plane.  Letting Planned Parenthood set the agenda and incite drama should never have happened.  Komen is most definitely guilty of being naive. They need to make a media relations / media disaster class required for all employees.  

This video from Nancy Brinker almost comes off as too little, too late.  Really, this should have been way out in front.  Way before the 3-Day community went all crazy on us.  Way before the media took this and ran. 

As a 3-Day walker for the last seven years, I think Komen owed us a heads-up.  In advance of the firestorm. 

So what does all of this mean for D'Lyn and Team Tiara?

We have team members with opinions on both sides of this issue. Personally, I don't think this is a black and white issue -- I never have. It has sooooooo many shades of gray. 

As we move forward, I've asked our team to be respectful of each other -- opinions and emotions are running high.  

The rift this has caused in my 3-Day family makes my heart heavy.  Once words are spoken, they can't be taken back. Once words are shared via Facebook, Twitter, etc., not only are they out there forever, they're out there for all to see.  Sooooo many people have drawn a line in the sand on this issue.  And soooo many of them have been rather hateful about it it.  

The problem with drawing a line in the sand? Sometimes when you've had a while to step back and calm down, you see that maybe, just maybe, you were wrong.  And sometimes it's pretty hard to swallow your pride and step back over that line.  

Especially when you've spent a few days involving the people who have sponsored your walk in the past -- and inciting them to be angry as well.  

Not real sure how you work a turn-around there....

I do hold firm to one belief. I've told many of you before that Drama is what happens when Satan attacks the good we are doing. He can't stand to see what we can accomplish for good.  We've seen this time and time again with Team Tiara.  I do believe what is happening is being orchestrated by Satan.  Please don't give in to him or to the drama.  

I've asked our team to step back if they must. See how things shake out. Remember that we are in an era where via Twitter and Facebook and everything else, very angry people can be heard very loudly.  Look at the way Mike Sherman, Texas A&M Football Coach, was fired last fall.  Twitter was his downfall.  (Well, that and the fact that he'd never in a million years win a National Championship.)

Pause. Take a deep breath. Remember why you signed up to walk in the first place. Is the reason still there? For me, the 3-Day isn't really about "Komen."  Yes, Komen hosts it -- but it's so much more. It's an opportunity to spend THREE DAYS with my Tiara family -- many of whom I've known much longer than seven years.  It's about healing and being fit and taking a stand against breast cancer. It's about making a HUGE difference in the world.  It's empowerment.  It's showing my kids that a few people can bring about big change.  It's about doing something most people never would have thought I could do.  All of those reasons are still there. In spades. 

Walking away from Komen and the 3-Day will not save lives.  Holding Komen hostage to your politics with threats of "never walking again" will not save lives.  For years, on the 3-Day we've said "The life you save may be your own."  Friends, if you're pulling support right here and right now without pausing a minute to think, The life you LOSE may be your own.  

Come on, you're better than this.  

I've marveled today at how just last week I was campaigning from the other side of the coin -- defending Komen for working through Planned Parenthood.  I'm passionate about this series because 80% of the funds we raise go to research -- Komen has awareness and mammograms and all the rest covered with other funding sources.  

I have faith that Komen will continue to work with affiliates to make sure under-served women don't fall through the cracks.  

I support Komen's efforts to find new ways to serve uninsured women -- ways that don't involve controversy, such as utilizing The Rose in Houston. 

Team Tiara will continue to do the same.  Since acquiring our non-profit status in 2010, we've been about a whole lot more than "Komen."  Last year, we sponsored 20 mammograms through The Rose.  We've been able to offer direct financial assistance to survivors.  Through a partnership with The 2nd Baseman, we are helping send two women to the Young Survivors' Coalition annual meeting in New Orleans. continues to highlight survivors and pink warriors who are fighting for a CURE. 

We will be ready to make our first $25,000 direct grant for metastatic breast cancer research in the next month or so. 

Team Tiara is strong.  We're family.  And we're not about to let Satan undermine the good we're doing. 

Neither should you. 


Jen said...

Well said. Stopping and thinking is sometimes the hardest step.

Meg said...

Wow. You have SO perfectly said what has been bouncing around in my head and heart for the past 2 days. I'm going to be sending a lot of traffic your way.

Bernadette said...

You are so amazing and I'm glad I got to meet you in camp last year. Your words speak to my heart and how I've been feeling since this all came out. Thank you for being a calm, rational voice amidst the hurt yelling that's been going on.

Cathy said...


Alison said...

This post touches on so much of what has been in my thoughts all day. I signed up for my first Twin Cities 3-Day this year, and it hurts to have such hateful words surrounding the cause that I chose to support for the last 4 years. Thank you for these words.

D'Lyn said...

THANK YOU for all of your kind comments! I don't think I've ever had a 5-Comment day! (Unless you count the Komen / KFC incident. Now THAT was drama!!!)

lezleekay said...

I have read that Komen only uses 50% of their donations for actual cancer research. Seems there are other charities that use a greater percentage of the money for research, and that's where women that believe taking funding from PP is a mistake will be donating: Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center.

Asking pro-choice women to relax about this decision so women on the other side of the issue don't have to be worked up anymore is not a solution. Supporting other organizations that use MORE money for actual research AND don't blatantly pick sides to appease conservatives does the job. I don't see how the organization people donate to matters if the goal of fighting breast cancer is what this is really about.

terry said...

D'Lyn, thank you for this post which I just happening along through google. All of your points are well taken! I've been very concerned with all my friends and past supporters who have made a declarative statement against SGK and drawn their line in the sand. I hope they will be able to swallow their pride at some later date, especially now that SGK has decided to reinstate their grants to PP and tighten up the criteria in their policy to "make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political." I'd be even happier if they would also remove some of the politicians from their board... Starting with Karen Handel. I fear she was poison to this credible, important, and very worthwhile charity organization. I hope the SGK Foundation can successfully return to it's roots and refocus on the cause. Cheers to you, my pink sister!