(Why I'm STILL Walking)
by Carl E. Benson II
Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK) recently announced it was cutting (and then reinstating/allowing to be reapplied for) grants for Planned Parenthood (PP), an organization that provides a wide variety of women's health services, including Birth Control, Abortion, Sexual Health Screenings, Breast Exams and Screenings, and many others.
I have committed to walking two SGK Breast Cancer 3-Days this year and crewing at least one. I will definitely honor these commitments and will probably do the same for years to come (more on the 'probably' later). My main reason to keep supporting this organization is simple. NO OTHER organization can help recognize, prevent, treat, and eradicate breast cancer like this one can. They are the leaders of their field and as long as such an organization exists, I have a hope of a world where my wife, and girls, and indeed, women and men all over the world don't have to worry about breast cancer, and some day, all cancers. I don't give a crap about their political position or yours, as long as they are fighting breast cancer responsibly.
Generally speaking, the reason for SGKs decision seems to have its origins sometime in 2010, although it has almost certainly been in consideration long before that. They have explained it as PP not being eligible for SGK grants due to new rules intended to make grant recipients more accountable and worthy of such funds. Specifically, SGK is no longer willing to extend new grants to organizations that are under Local, State, or Federal investigation. as PP currently is. However, Nancy Brinker, the founder (and sister) of SGK has also conceded that being affiliated with PP has consumed much more of her time and that of the organization than is acceptable, stating that she often spends as much as half of her time and resources on the issue. We have also learned that a high ranking SGK official who used to be a staunch anti-abortion lawmaker may have helped guide this decision, and has recently 'resigned'. When PP got wind of it, they seized the moment and broke the story to the media, and reaped the benefit. We are also learning that not all PP locations are losing SGK Grant funding, in spite of what PP has told the media. Now, in an eleventh hour decision, SGK has announced that they will allow PP to reapply for grants as long as they meet criteria, and would honor existing grants.
It was probably an inevitability that SGK would alter their relationship with PP, but the manner in which it happened has resulted in a black eye for SGK, who continue to demonstrate a lack of public relations sophistication. In fact, that is my biggest problem with SGK.
Let me also touch upon the controversy last year when SGK "ruthlessly" sent their lawyers around the world to "squash" every mom and pop organization with 'for the cure' in their title. They did exactly what 'Live Strong' would have done if you started a charity called 'Living Strong' or what 'The American Cancer Society' would have done if you started an organization called 'AN American Cancer Society'. They protected their intellectual property. Just like Queen did when Vanilla Ice sought to profit off their groundwork and creativity without permission, just like I, as an artist, would have done, if you sought to utilize my creativity or intellectual property without permission. And that's all I have to say about that.
However, SGK IS a huge organization, and even though they are a charity, they are still charged to operate within the confines of a huge organization.
At the risk of digressing, do you own an iPhone, iPad, PC, TV, or automobile? Yeah, me too. You're no doubt aware that these American Products, sold by American Companies are assembled, packaged, and distributed by people in other countries holding jobs that SHOULD be American jobs, possibly under human rights and ecological conditions that would be illegal in America. But we continue to financially support them. Do you smoke or drink? Then you financially support companies that continuously spread products that are harmful to children and teens. Do you have a Facebook or Twitter account? Even though some will tell you they are detrimental to society and young people?
Why do we support these corporations that potentially do much more harm to society than SGK? Because we receive a product or service that we consider to be of value and then we intend to utilize responsibly.
I continue to support SGK because they provide me with a service that I find to be of great value in spite of their latest PR blunder. That service is a world without breast cancer, and a community that is universally nurturing to anyone who has been affected by this. No one can deny that they are among the best positioned to continue this fight, to ease the suffering of those affected, and to be a global leader in understanding how to cure all cancers.
While SGK decisions made by men in ties and women in business suits continue to permeate the media, it's important to recognize that the real heart and soul, and the real backbone of this organization are a small group of men and women that wear grey shirts and cargo shorts, cultivating an atmosphere, attitude, and ambiance among their constituents that can't be found anyplace else. These selfless individuals put together events utilizing hundreds of volunteers and thousands of walkers who have each raised thousands of dollars and limitless awareness for this cause, then they step aside and let the event be about the walkers, and especially about the survivors, who hold an almost universal royalty status. If you've never experienced one of these events, you can't possibly understand. You can sit there and pass judgment at implied political stances and apparent public posturing, but you can't fully understand the organization like I do.
This organization is about a strikingly beautiful bald woman from Milwaukee holding up a sign that reads; "A Komen Mammogram Saved My Life".
It's about a 23 YO mother from Boston who told me and hundreds of other crew about how medical science had declared her plight hopeless, cureless, and a lost cause. No known conventional medical procedure was going to keep her alive, but here she was years later talking to us and living her life with her husband and children, all thanks to clinical trials and experimental procedures arranged for by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
It's about a 90 year old woman from Hartford with a sticker on her hat for every year she's been a survivor. She has 27 stickers. But it's MORE about the reverence that she's looked upon with by the dozens of survivors that are congregated there with her.
It's about a very tall, sick, and bald woman in 2008, who was a healthy cancer free woman who effortlessly walked all 60 miles in 2009, and rode her bike hundreds of miles to keep her fellow walkers and survivors safe in 2010 (with a full head of curly hair), completely cancer free.
It's about a woman who was told by doctors that she would be dead in six months but booked a cruise for 3 months after that. She never made the cruise, but her sharing of this story was encouragement to hundreds of women.
It's about men wearing pink bras, wigs, sashes, tights, and superhero costumes regardless of how they look as long as it brings awareness to the greater cause.
It's about a beautiful woman name Cathy who got to be a part of something amazing before succumbing to Breast Cancer. And about randomly running into her children at an event five months after she died because they knew how important her brief experience with this event was to her.
It's about a very sick woman, who spent most of the walk in a wheelchair, but she completed it, raised the flag, and was at the next one, and she's doing fine right now.
It's about the hiring of an African American national spokesperson because she was the right survivor for the job. The fact that she brilliantly represented an under represented population of breast cancer survivors and victims was just a bonus.
It's about a man named Simon from Tampa, walking for the first time, five years after his wife walked. A year before that, Simon's wife, while eight months pregnant, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Right now, Simon's six year old daughter has no mother.
It's about a husband and wife from Wolcott, CT, who were dealt a blow they didn't expect and never saw coming, and how they overcame the effects and rechanneled that energy, and the form it took.
These are not hypotheticals, for instances, or fairly tails. These are women and men I've met. Women I know. Results of SGK and the work that they do.
It's about medical and clinical advances you'll hear about in your lifetime, but won't attribute to SGK. That's not how they work. They actually don't want ANY attention, positive or negative.
It's about giving every woman and man a shot at a lifetime. It's about raising more money to fight Breast Cancer than any organization in history, and effectively utilizing it.
It's NOT about pink spatulas, political stances, controversial organizations, or legislative rulings. These things will be called into play heavily in the near future. You will hear about them.
I believe that someday before I die, there will be a cure for Breast Cancer. It may be an inoculation that prevents it, or a preventive measure, a manner of isolating and destroying cancerous cells, or just an understanding of how to not let it maim or kill the women and men in our lives. SGK will be a big part of it. THAT won't get as much attention as this has.
And since it's relevant, I'm Pro-Choice, but I'm not THAT Pro-Choice. My opinion on the matter isn't nearly as strong as my convictions in helping SGK move us towards a world without Breast Cancer.
And I really have nothing against PP, an essential organization I'm sure is run by dedicated men and women with a misunderstood and maligned mission that cannot be easy. Even if they do routinely pass out Birth Control pills and medications that are strongly suspected of containing carcinogens(as most Brith Control providers and perscribers do). Even if they don't have a consistent national policy regarding grants for breast cancer screenings and mammograms, or that each facility makes their own policies, sometimes returning unused funds.
On the other hand, I don't have that big a problem with an organization dedicated to preserving life distancing themselves from one that is often associated with taking it. If SGK is destined to make this move, better sooner than later, so we can all get back to curing Breast Cancer. I despise the road they took just to get close to where they started, but even that isn't entirely their fault. PP clearly broke the story with an eye towards damage control, gaining public sympathy and support, and recouping whatever grant money they could. In the short term, they have succeeded, but I suspect that this would have had a significant effect on them in a few years. In spite of all this, I fervently support any organization that responsibly furthers women's health and is a chartered to help protect women against breast cancer.
What I do have a major problem with is women who need or can't afford breast health screenings or mammograms suddenly not being able to get them. But I'm confident that SGK and PP will make sure this doesn't happen with the help of an ever increasing corps of organizations, even if the separation between them ever becomes complete.
So that's why I still support SGK, at least for 2012, and I may already have a commitment in place for 2013. In the beginning of this piece, I said that I would 'PROBABLY' still support them for years to come. Let this writing serve as notice to SGK and anyone who supports them, that if once the backlash of this is over, they don't consistently demonstrate a responsible approach to ending breast cancer, I will have to discontinue my support, and encourage you to do the same. This episode needs to be the exception and NOT norm. I am strongly hoping that SGK does a better job of PR in the future and learns from this.
I am hoping that you will still support me, but more importantly, support the end of Breast Cancer, however you see fit. If you want to support PP, I'm sure they could use it. If you want to support breast cancer and breast health through PP, I encourage you to make sure they have a suitable vehicle in place to accommodate this, but I suspect they will.
If you were a walker no longer willing to commit as a result of this, I hope you will consider giving me or someone else a list of your past supporters.
If you were only supporting me, or SGK through me, because you felt their political beliefs mirrored your own, and now feel that you can no longer, I wish you the best regardless. But I suspect that most of our supporters do not feel this way.
So there it is, that's why I'm STILL walking. And why I hope to for years to come. And why I hope you'll still walk with me.
Read this inspirational story about why I'm walking to begin with:www.the3day.org/goto/bostoncar…
Watch the amazing video I made for my wife at the last Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day:www.the3day.org/goto/bostoncar…
Find out about my first tattoo:fav.me/d3qwsd8
See why I (still) need to lose weight: fav.me/d3v951f
Find out about my 2 new family members:fav.me/d3s7d27
ABOUT MY ARTWORK
If you don't give a crap about my life as an artist, feel free to stop reading now, I realize I can be a wordy SOB.
All of my work is pen and ink (why do they call it pen AND ink anyway?). Specifically, India ink. I used to work in pencil, and will occasionally do something in just pencil, but I have grown to love the contrast and sharpness I can get from ink. Everything starts with rough pencils and is eventually embellished with Micron graphic pens. I used to use Penstix, but they tend to fade over time while the Microns hold up very well. They also come in better line depths and also a variety of colors, which I started experimenting with not too long ago.
I also wanted to make everyone aware that I do commissions (both pictures and cases) if anyone is interested. You see my style, you see what I'm capable of. If you are interested, please contact me. I also want to let you know that many of my originals are available for sale. If you are interested in anything specific, please let me know.
Hey look! New Stuff! (click the little picture to make it a big picture)
What else am I working on? I just started a new Breast Cancer Awareness piece that's been in my head for years. I'm also ready to ink several nudes and I'm working on another 9/11 tribute.
recently uploaded all of my Custom Computer Case Mods. Here's one now:
. Find out why: ceb364.deviantart.com/journal/…
On Saturday, January 28, 2006 (my dad's birthday), this picture:
was chosen as a Daily Deviation. It was recommended by
and selected by
.I wanted to express my gratitude to both of those deviants and to all the members who commented and faved this piece who I didn't have a chance to properly thank. Lame as it may sound, it was one of the most gratifying, important, and proud moments in my life as an artist. Recognition by one's peers may be the most sincere compliment and artist can receive.
My best work:
Which is not only a masterful piece of art I would hold up to anything ever produced by any artist, but also is touching tribute to someone my entire family loved dearly.
Some others I consider to be among my best:
I also very much like the abstract pictures that come straight from my imagination:
And let me shout out to my Amazing, beautiful, lovely, CANCER FREE wife by sharing some of the overly sappy, lovey dovey pictures I drew for her that always seem to come out pretty good:
I also wanted to mention a few pictures that either didn't live up to their potential, or just simply suck:
And I would be remiss if I didn't throw in a few nudie girls, big boobed babes, and scantily clad super heroines: