Four Questions to Ask Before You Join or Donate To a Cancer Organization Walk

Paul Cienfuegos’ May 10th, 2016 Commentary on KBOO Evening News


(His weekly commentaries are broadcast every Tuesday evening. You can view or listen to them all at,, or subscribe via ITunes. Listen to this one HERE.)


Greetings! You are listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos.


This past December and January, I did a six-part commentary series on what I call the Cancer Industrial Complex. It’s all archived at Today, I'm going to return to this critical topic, as the Relay For Life annual event is happening in less than a week, all over the US, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, which in my opinion is the largest phony non-profit organization on the planet. I think it would be more accurate to describe the American Cancer Society as an extremely effective front group for the cancer industry. But they’re not alone. Other phony cancer organizations include the Komen Foundation, the Cancer Research Foundation, and many others. Breast Cancer Action is a wonderful organization that has been a leading truth-teller in this effort for years. Recently, they’ve been running a campaign that they call “Think Before You Pink”. Here are some excerpts from their action alert titled “Four Questions to Ask Before You Walk for Breast Cancer”…..


Each year, hundreds of thousands of people come together to participate in breast cancer walks and runs in cities across the U.S. … If you want to be sure your time and money are truly making a difference, here are [some] easy questions to ask before participating in or donating to a breast cancer walk:


Question #1) How much money raised from the walk will go to breast cancer programs?


Organizations promote their walks by suggesting that the money raised by walk participants goes straight to supporting breast cancer programs. But the reality is a big chunk of the money raised is often unaccounted for. … For example, The AVON 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer requires participants to raise $1,800, and states on its website that this money is given “to local, regional and national breast cancer organizations.” [Yet, of the $34 million … raised from their events in 2015, about 47% … of the money – [about $16 million] … isn’t publicly accounted for.


Question #2) What breast cancer programs will the walk fund?


Organizations promote their walks by suggesting that the money raised by walk participants goes to breast cancer programs that save women’s lives. But the reality is organizations that put on walks sometimes mislead participants by using the money raised to fund ineffective efforts like empty awareness or early detection programs, which haven’t reduced breast cancer death rates. Meanwhile, research programs that remain severely underfunded include those looking into the environmental links to breast cancer that could prevent women from getting breast cancer in the first place and those that look into metastatic breast cancer so fewer women die of the disease.


Question #3) Do the walk’s sponsors increase women’s risk of breast cancer?


Organizations promote their corporate sponsors as genuinely caring about women with breast cancer. But the reality is some corporations and organizations involved in breast cancer walks put their own profit before women’s health by pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is a term we coined in 2002 to describe a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer, but at the same time makes or promotes products linked to the disease. For example, each year, the Avon Foundation puts on multi-day breast cancer walks in cities nationwide. But Avon Products, the multi-billion dollar cosmetics corporation behind the foundation, uses chemicals in its makeup that are linked to an increased risk of breast cancer [such as methylparaben].


Organizations promote their walks by suggesting that overcoming a breast cancer diagnosis is as simple as fighting hard, getting an annual mammogram, and thinking positively. … [But] no amount of individual willpower, screening or positive thinking can protect women from developing metastatic breast cancer, an incurable diagnosis that kills 40,000 women each year. …


There are many meaningful ways to take an active role in addressing and ending the breast cancer epidemic. If you can’t answer the above questions to your satisfaction, you may want to consider these alternative ways to take action:


1. Contact organizations and corporations that put on breast cancer walks to get answers to the questions above and then demand changes you want to see.

2. Volunteer for or give directly to a breast cancer organization that … doesn’t take money from pinkwashing companies that profit from the disease at the expense of our health.

3. Learn more and educate others about the history and politics of the breast cancer movement by hosting a film screening of the documentary ‘Pink Ribbons Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy’.

4. Share your story to help others think critically about these fundraising events.


I’ve been reading excerpts from an action alert titled ‘Think Before You Pink’, published by Breast Cancer Action, a group that is quite critical of the established cancer organizations that raise enormous amounts of money every year, much of it from the very corporations that cause the cancer they claim to be fighting. (The original unedited version of this document can be accessed via the hyperlink above.)


You’ve been listening to the weekly commentary by yours truly, Paul Cienfuegos. You can hear future commentaries every Tuesday on the KBOO Evening News in Portland, Oregon, and on a growing number of other radio stations. I welcome your feedback.


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