In America, everything is a business, and cancer research and fundraising is no exception.
Everybody knows somebody who has fallen victim to the horrendous disease known as breast cancer. 12 percent of all women in the United States will be diagnosed throughout their lifetime. My mother was one of those women, and she was taken by the disease this February; that is why breast cancer research is so close to my heart.
The ugly truth is that corporations that raise money for breast cancer research are just that– corporations. This means that money is involved, and that is when things start to cascade down a slippery slope. One of the prominent examples of this is the NFL. The NFL started BCA (breast cancer awareness) month in October of 2009. Everybody has seen the images of pink cleats, towels, stickers, and field markings throughout those months to raise awareness. What the NFL excels in awareness, it falls horribly flat in actually aiding the battle against cancer. Only 8.01 percent of all pink merchandise sold by the NFL goes to cancer research (Sports Illustrated.)
The NFL is not alone in this. The Susan G. Komen foundation is one of the hallmarks of breast cancer research and awareness. However, being a business will eternally have drawbacks when trying to do good. The CEO of the foundation raked in over $600,000 in 2012, and the foundation scored a $200 million dollar profit, with a large portion of that money going towards “awareness” and “education” programs, not research. (The Truth about Cancer.)
I know the definition of Hypocrisy and those that know me know my extensive collection of pink wear, and that I regularly dye my hair pink. After what happened to my mother, pink became my favorite color, because as a large man with a beard, I often get asked why I wear so much pink, and that can get a discussion going about how horrible breast cancer really is. Breast cancer is not about pink ribbons or showmanship, it is about people trying to survive.
If you want to donate money to aid breast cancer, first of all, you are an awesome person. But unfortunately, being blindly kind has it’s drawbacks. Donating money to one of these organizations is always a risky maneuver. By the time your donation reaches the people who need it, it could be months later, and the majority of your money gone towards those “awareness” programs that seem to work out so well.
The advent of the 21st century has brought about one of the greatest blessings the earth has ever seen, crowd-funding programs. KickStarter and GoFundMe are two of the biggest platforms for crowdfunding. These websites take 5 percent of every donation received, a gigantic improvement over taking 92 percent like the NFL does.
The reason why websites like these are necessary is that care for cancer is egregiously expensive. Over the five years, my mother fought this horrible curse, it would have cost our family $950,000, but we were privileged enough that she worked at the hospital she was being treated at, and it cost around $20,000 in total. There is no equivalence between human life and cost, but many people without health insurance cannot come close to affording cancer treatment. For the average American, a year’s worth of chemotherapy costs around $70,000, even with health insurance (medical news today.)
It is this reason why crowdfunding has become a necessity for many people who are fixated in what may be an endless battle with a ruthless disease. Both Kickstarter and GoFundMe have pages where you can see the dozens, if not hundreds, of people who have been able to raise upwards of $100,000 dollars for their battles, thanks to the kindness of others.
If you want to buy pink shirts, dye your hair, wear pink ribbons, and even get tattoos like myself, the more power to you. But every time that you do just think about a real person who needs your help that could die any day. Any amount of money could be lifesaving for these courageous warriors, so don’t let multi-million dollar corporations get in the way of that.