For the past 3 years, my sister and I have participated in Race for the Cure. We have been fortunate in the fact that breast cancer has yet to make an appearance in our immediate family, but that does not mean it has not affected our circle of friends. The same is true for many folks, I think. With over a quarter of a million new cases expected to be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society, most of us know someone who has been touched by the disease. But even if you had never known anyone who has faced a battle with breast cancer, I think it would be impossible not to be affected by The Race.

There is a particular energy at these events: tens of thousands of people, all shapes, sizes, and colors flow through the streets like a river of humanity. Some wear custom t-shirts honoring those they've lost, others wear pink camo symbolizing the fight in the midst of which they currently find themselves. Every year a local crew of firefighters runs in full gear, complete with pink fire helmets. Every year hundreds of pink tutus and pink feather boas trot alongside them.

One year, a young man proposed to his girlfriend who had just been found to be cancer free after almost two years of treatment. Another year, a woman collapsed five feet away from us...before The Race could even begin. Together, those moments represent what The Race is supposed to be about: the struggle and the victory.

But never, at any moment, at any of The Races, have I ever heard a political conversation.

The Race is not a place for politics.

The Race is a place for hope.

This week, the Susan G. Komen Foundation lost sight of that fact went it's board decided to cut grants to Planned Parenthood that had, for the past 5 years, provided breast screenings for hundreds of thousands of women, most in underserved populations in underserved parts of the country. The moved shocked millions of the group's supporters, especially given founder Nancy Brinker's rather vehement support for PP just a few years ago (pointed out rather nicely here by Milowent).

Today, Brinker apologized for the move, and the foundation has invited Planned Parenthood to reapply for the grant money. While I am happy at what appears to be a return to rationality, I can't help but wonder what this politically driven stumble will ultimately cost the foundation and those individuals it is supposedly trying to help. How many potential donors will shy away from the group either in fear or protest of the political pressures to which they bent this week? How many potential survivors will now be lost?


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I'm not sure that I will donate to Komen again, but I am sure that if I don't I will give what I would have to other sources, whether it be the American Cancer Society or directly to Planned Parenthood, as many others upset by the Komen Foundation's actions this week have already done. Withing 48 hours, the $600,000 that PP received annually from Komen was more than made up for by donations made to PP directly. Maybe this outpouring of support was one of the factors that helped Brinker "refocus". At the very least, it demonstrated that in a society where politics is too often king, hope is still a very powerful queen.