Pretty in pink
by Jennifer Cohron
Oct 21, 2012 | 1748 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jennifer Cohron
Jennifer Cohron
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I don’t care much for the color pink. It screams “girly” and “princess,” and I am not a fan of either of those things.

However, I have been known to sport some pink at this time of the year in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

There are actually more than a dozen month-long observances in October according to Wikipedia, but breast cancer is the cause that most people associate with it.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure probably has a lot to do with that.

Few nonprofits rise to Komen’s level of visibility and influence. Komen has a presence in more than 30 countries and has invested more than $685 million in research grants and programs since 1982.

For most of the group’s history, Komen could count on the full support of both the general public and members of the media.

Then news broke in February that Komen was cutting funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings. A public relations disaster followed.

The decision was quickly reversed, and people on both sides of the issue were left with a bad taste in their mouths.

Eight months later, Komen is still feeling the aftershock. Donations and participation in its largest fundraiser, local races, are down across the country.

I see Komen’s fall from grace as an example of what can happen when even a great group gets to be too big.

Fighting a problem as big as breast cancer requires vast amounts of people, money and unfortunately a fair share of politics.

While those three things are necessary to build an organization that can accomplish what Komen has, they also put a lot of distance between the powers that be and the people they are working to empower.

One of my concerns about Komen is that when I hear the name, I think of a brand instead of a person.

A brand can bring an important cause to my attention. A brand can influence my buying habits. A brand cannot make me care.

For that, I need a face. And breast cancer has many faces that are familiar to me.

Breast cancer is Amy Taft, my math teacher for three of my four years in high school. She was the first person I knew personally to be diagnosed with the disease. She is the reason I attended my first Relay for Life.

Breast cancer is Kelli Adkins, the yearbook sponsor for one of the semesters that I was on the staff in high school. I remember her as someone who always seems to be smiling even when she isn’t because she exudes light and love.

When I heard her name mentioned in the same breath as breast cancer at church recently, I couldn’t even pray for her along with everybody else. By the time I recovered from the shock, the prayer was over.

Breast cancer is Jenna Love Henderson, whom I did not know personally but have written about numerous times while I’ve been at the paper. I sat down with her dad, Joe, this week because I wanted her to be more than a name to me and anyone who reads those articles; I want us to know her story.

Finally, breast cancer is Jerusha Jane “Rusha” Jones Key, daughter of my buddy Elane and her husband, Rick.

Rusha was younger than I am now when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. She fought it with all she had for three years before passing away in July 2011 at the age of 28.

When Elane texted me that night to let me know the end was close, I struggled for some response that would bring her some measure of comfort. Finally, I had the odd thought that maybe Jesus would wear pink in honor of Rusha’s homecoming.

I’m not so sure He didn’t because it seemed like we had a solid week of pink sunsets after her passing.

So no, I don’t really like the color pink. But when I wear it, you better believe I mean it.