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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Susan G. Komen Should Know Better

A Mother's Day ritual for me has been to do the "Race for the Cure" with friends and members of my family. My mother, Marie, died from lung and brain cancer, and I used to think that this race would make a difference in the lives of those living with cancer, at any stage. I used to think that my donation to the race was used to pay for research, patient services, and the like (and maybe it was). But, today my reflective thoughts took me some place else. And here's where it went.

You have 45,000 huddled together to make a difference. They have each paid $40 to partake in the race. You give everyone a t-shirt, have loads of balloons everywhere, and feed people at the end of the race. This could be the greatest teachable moment ever, the greatest for teaching people about the Hippocrates thing about "let thy food be thy medicine." Instead, food served at the race included parfait yogurt, iced green tea, pretzels, donuts, water and bananas. Ford Motor Company was there giving away their "Warriors" scarf, and although I really wanted one, the line was way too long for me.

I do a lot of 5K races, and even with my history as a marathoner, the Expos have always tabled foods on the healthier side of the food spectrum. Today, I saw breast cancer survivors walking with oxygen tanks in hand. I saw women in wheelchairs, brightly dressed in pink. And, all I could think about was the fact that today's product placement positioned itself to say, "Hey person with cancer, go and buy my coldcuts, my donuts, etc. the next time you are shopping."

Anyway, the Komen Foundation raised a good deal of money today. But it also made me think of people like my friends Molly and Carly Houlahan from "Hives for Lives" who sell honey to benefit cancer research. They're teenagers who have raised more than $400,000 selling honey that they learned to harvest from their grandfather. Susan Komen, you have lost a supporter. I am going to look for a smaller, local not-for-profit whose values reflect my own, and I will help them. No worries about compromising my own health beliefs to be in your race.

At the end of the race, someone commented on my "Plant Strong" t-shirt (a souvenir from an Engine 2 Immersion). This young woman said to me, "Is Plant Strong the name of your gym?" You can't explain the meaning of plant strong in a casual passing. But, I did want to say to her, "Ah, no, it isn't my gym, it is actually my church."

My closing thought takes me back to believing that food is thy medicine. And today, missed the mark. I will dream about a Race for the Cure with herb teas, hot grains, fresh fruit, and all the things that can make you better. Maybe one of these days, everyone will get a free ticket to see "Forks Over Knives." Who knows?

Happy Mother's Day.

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