Recognizing the worth of all cancer patients in world dominated by big names
Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, I CCRC
Today’s world is dominated by big names – whether it be an actor, a foundation, or a type of cancer – it is easy to focus on these major groups and lose sight of the less popular, less well-known, or smaller arenas. Sadly, this focus on major/big name groups pulls focus from the lesser known areas. With that in mind, let’s take some time to talk today about fundraising, research, and how every type of cancer counts in this competitive world.
Major fundraising organizations
While almost every type of cancer has a ribbon and an advocacy group, I think one of the most well-known advocacy groups in the US is probably the Komen Foundation, especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. With their Bold Goal initiative of halving the number of breast cancer deaths in the US by the year 2026, its easy to see why they receive so much attention. In fiscal year 2017, the Komen Foundation brought in almost $258 million dollars! Of these funds, about $180 million went to their programs and services aiding breast cancer patients and research. Also in 2017, the foundation allocated 40% of its research funding to projects focusing on treatments for metastatic breast cancer.
One group that has recently come into the spotlight over the last few years is Movember. My husband actually came home last night and informed me that he would be participating this year. According to their financials, they have raised $837 million over the last 15 years, with $17.1 million in the US in 2017. Movember aims to raise awareness and funds for men’s issues such as prostate and testicular cancer, as well as mental health issues such as depression and suicide.
With all this being said, don’t forget about groups such as the American Cancer Society that advocate for ALL types of cancers. Another well-known group, the LIVESTRONGFoundation, supports all cancers, cancer patients, and their families. Their most recent annual report shows over $17 million spent in activities supporting research, patient care, advocacy, and community awareness programs.
But what about the cancer that I have?
With many fundraising organizations focusing on a narrow group of cancers, its easy for some of us with other types of cancer to think – why doesn’t bladder cancer or thyroid cancer or ovarian cancer have a month? (They do have months – they just aren’t well known). What about funding research for those cancers? It is without a doubt a huge frustration and sadness to those of us that have had other types of cancer. From thyroid cancer patients being told they are “lucky” (don’t get me started there) to liver cancer being overlooked in October (October is also liver cancer awareness month), it can be disheartening to feel so left out.
Speaking of cancer ribbons and awareness months, check out this amazing graphic from Choose Hope who is doing some amazing things to support all types of cancer. Paula and her team have also donated close to $1-Million dollars to cancer research. Also, take a look at Cancer Ribbons – The Complete Guide, for a great listing of these ribbons.
Our individual impact
What I will tell you my dear friends, is that advances made in one field of cancer research can help researchers in other areas. Discoveries made in hormone receptor positive breast cancer have helped scientists look at treatments for other hormone sensitive cancers. Some of the first efforts in immunotherapy to treat bladder cancer have opened doors to immunotherapy uses in a multitude of different types of cancers.
Every time a person is diagnosed, with any type of cancer, doctors and researchers have the opportunity to learn. When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I was the first pregnant thyroid cancer patient that my endocrinologist had seen. He was freaked out – no doubt – but he learned. The next time he has a pregnant patient, he will know what to say, what not to say, and first-hand knowledge of how to treat her. Every time a loved one or even a stranger asks about our conditions, we have the ability to educate. Our impact on cancer research and treatment doesn’t have to make the news – but we all have an impact and should be proud of that.
As always, much love, abundant blessings, and many prayers to all of the cancer warriors and their families.