Cancer Can Kiss My Ass: Why we should leave politics out of the discussion

Komen El Paso Executive Director Stephanie Flora and Dr. Ana Maria Polo

Perspective is a beautiful thing. Some would say that it’s a gift. There are many ways we obtain such a gift, whether it comes through age, being a parent or going through some type of adversity.

A few weeks back there was uproar over how Susan G. Komen stopped it’s funding to Planned Parenthood centers.  The foundation faced a tidal wave of bad press and public opinion as a result of their decision. People said they wouldn’t support events such as Race for the Cure, which raises money for local organizations that fight breast cancer and assist cancer patients in cities across the United States.

Komen did an about-face and reversed its decision due to the backlash, but for a brief time there was a major divide amongst companies and individuals who were supporters of both Komen and Planned Parenthood. While some people applauded Komen’s original decision to stop their Planned Parenthood funding, others were upset. In some cases major Komen donors backed out altogether, which prompted the organization to change its mind.

But there was a third group caught in the middle, a group my family and I suddenly found ourselves in last week: cancer patients and survivors. And that’s where the perspective comes in.

You see, when you find yourself talking to an oncologist and you’re developing the game plan for how you’re going to battle the tumors that were found in a loved one’s CT scan, politics and policy fly straight out the window. While some fight over morality there are others facing their own mortality.

When politics and differing points of view enter the equation, it helps us lose sight over the bigger picture, giving cancer that much more of a chance to win.

While some fight over morality there are others facing their own mortality.

Last Sunday in El Paso, Texas, near-record numbers of people attended the 20th Annual Race for the Cure event. And for me it was more than just an opportunity to brand Telemundo and treat the thousands of people who showed up to see one of the network’s biggest stars, Dr. Ana Maria Polo of the hit show Caso Cerrado.

As a breast cancer survivor herself, Polo served as Honorary Chair of the Race and signed hundreds of autographs. But the highlight for me was seeing the many survivors, some of them just kids, who had beaten the odds. There were tears of happiness for those wearing pink survivor shirts; there were tears of sadness for those who had lost their battles.

There was hope.

And when you have hope you have a fighting chance. The key is to keep up the fight.

One friend of mine has a sister who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 18. Now in her late twenties, this woman has been in and out of remission numerous times. Last summer, when she was about to be pronounced cancer-free, her CT scans showed that the tumors had come back, this time in almost every major organ. After enduring yet another operation – this one lasted 8 hours – my friend’s sister is back on her feet and getting better every day.

“She just has this incredible positive attitude,” her sister told me.

Here’s to focusing on the big picture and leaving petty politics behind. Here’s to those who fight to survive every day and the families that love them. Here’s to those who are no longer with us and their memories that help sustain those of us who are still here.

Here’s to hope.



  1. It is the importance of those with cancer that makes the political events and mmorality issues so vital–people with moral and political objections to abortion were on the verge of closing down the front line for cancer prevention–Planned Parenthood. They are the ones doing or referring for pap smeers and breast exams for those much less privileged than those able to affort the time for many of the pink activities like race for the cure. These poor women are in a race for survival even without a cancer diagnosis. The immorality of abandoning the poor and justifying it on ground that have no place in the polices for health advocacy for the poor mmeans we need to care DEEPLY about thos controversy–and to celebrate the fact that direct democracy still works in America; when the majority are outraged, things change. So I say you should not be minimizing this victory-but celebrating that the funds will save many lives that will not be running…


    1. Thanks for the terrific insight, Doc. The intent is not to minimize but to let people know that there is a bigger issue at hand – the fight itself! Komen thankfully reversed its decision, ensuring that the front line of prevention, Planned Parenthood, remained in place. It’s all about perspective. While different sides argue over funding and morality, etc., there is a group caught in the middle. And when you’ve been recently diagnosed, well, I know it’s better knowing that you have full support behind you rather than differing sides. Patients do not want to get caught up in that. That’s why I’m happy for such a turnout last Sunday. Can you imagine what it would have been like had people boycotted that event? As for democracy, our points of view are proof that it’s alive and well in this country! I appreciate your feedback!


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