Sunday, November 27, 2011

Stand Up 2 Cancer - No Thanks

American Cancer Society
Stand Up 2 Cancer
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Breast Cancer Research Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation
National Breast Cancer Foundation
Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer
Love Hope Strength - The Worlds Leading Rock and Roll Cancer Foundation
National Foundation for Cancer Research
American Childhood Cancer Organization
Susan Cohan Colon Cancer Foundation
Prostate Cancer Foundation
Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation
John Wayne Cancer Foundation
Have a Ball Golf Foundation
The Children’s Tumor Foundation
Commonwealth Foundation for Cancer Research
Startup for a Cure: Pediatric Cancer Foundation
Pancreatic Cancer Foundation
Foundation for Women’s Cancer
Elsa Pataky: Cancer Research Foundation
The Skin Cancer Foundation
CURE Childhood Cancer
Avon Foundation Breast Center
Susan G. Komen 3-Day
Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 
Relay For Life
Cure Canine Cancer: K9 Cancer Walks
Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
Before reading further, be warned - this is an angry, most probably unjustified, rant against cancer research, the health sector, and the foundations that support them. I have lost so many friends and loved ones to cancer that I can’t even count them anymore, and I know that most of us are in the same boat. 
I lost my mother and step-father to cancer. My step-father suffered for almost a year after he was diagnosed, enduring treatments while hoping for a cure, but which did nothing more than ruin what little quality of life he had remaining. My mother went in a matter of a few short months, going from diagnosis direct to hospice, the doctors telling her that treatment at her late stage was pointless. I remember taking my mother and step-father from Arizona to Washington state, his home, so he could live out his final days and be buried there. We were all pretty destitute from the cancer treatments, doctor’s and hospital bills. We stopped at an American Cancer Society office in Portland, Oregon during the trip in the hopes of getting some assistance. They were very kind people there and gave us a small amount of cash to help us finish the trip. I will always think kindly of them (despite my growing distaste for cancer foundations).
That’s what cancer has done to us: made us alternately thankful and bitter. The most recent death of an acquaintance of many years brings all the anger to the surface again.  This woman died of breast cancer as have so many others. She lived with the disease for more than three years, braving all the stone-age treatments including radical surgery and chemotherapy. She went in and out of remission only to have the disease come back more aggressively than ever and take her life from her family and friends long before her time. For me, the anger returns.
How many times have we turned on the news to hear of promising new treatments that hold out the promise of a cure? But has anything changed over the years - over the decades? No. Hopes are raised by the promise of an imminent new discovery and then dashed when nothing changes. When afflicted, we continue to endure barbaric treatment at the hands of the medical establishment who are so inured to cancer that they have little sympathy anymore. And those who are cured are often driven to bankruptcy - even if we are fortunate enough to be covered by health insurance - because of the astronomical costs that none but the very rich can afford. 
This chronic disease is exacerbated by the despicable medical insurance industry. Complicit are the public health establishment and federal government who sit idly by and let a populace suffer at the hands of the medical and drug industries. Depending on the reports you refer to, there are over 1.5 million new cases of cancer every year. Of those almost 600,000 will die every year. How is this possible with so many cancer research institutions and scientists being supported by hundreds of foundations and government?
I started this post with a list of cancer foundations, charities and walks; this is a small handful of the hundreds out there. I am increasingly beginning to believe corporations and individuals are slapping the cancer label on, establishing a 501c3 nonprofit, and raking in the dollars. I want to believe that these people have good intentions, but I don’t see anything changing. Where are all these dollars going? How many walks and bike runs must we endure before real change happens? Is this just a way to get a name out there and look like you’re doing something good while really doing little? How can Avon and Susan B. Komen spend so much money on TV and radio advertising months before a walkathon? Does a walk for cancer that gives walkers a feel-good moment really change anything? Are the dollars raised in these walks creating change, or paying for massive advertising budgets and salaries? Am I bitter? Am I becoming cynical? Yes, probably. But Chemotherapy has been in use since the 1950s. In all that time nothing better has been found? 
Look at how much money is being funneled into these foundations and charities while our loved ones are sitting in crowded little chemo rooms getting poison pumped into their veins - or their breasts and upper torsos’ radically removed - or testicles, colons and prostates - or radiated beyond reason. Stand Up 2 Cancer? Really? I’m sick of catch phrases when my loved ones are dying. I give to charities all year long and have been a supporter of The American Cancer Society, but I have to question future support.  
I’m tired of us pouring millions of dollars into foundations and charities while the drug and medical establishments treat us with barbaric practices and drive us into bankruptcy in the process. If somebody has a real reason to be optimistic about cancer treatment I’d like to know about it. Otherwise, I’m not walking for the cure, standing up, or contributing anymore.  


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