Recognizing the worth of all cancer patients in world dominated by big names
Kathryn E. Vinson, MS, I CCRC
Today’s world and fundraising efforts are dominated by the biggest 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 areas. Sadly, this focus on the celebrity-driven or big-name associations pulls all attention from the lesser know or smaller groups. 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 published and focused initiative to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in the United States by over 50% before the year 2026, it’s easy to see why they receive so much attention. In the fiscal period 2017, the Komen Foundation was able to bring in almost $258 million. The use of this amazing windfall placed approximately $180 million on current programs and offerings and assisting 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.
In the Cancer arena, one group, in particular, has increased in awareness is Movember. Some of my family have also informed me that they have signed up to participate in a few events. 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. The LIVESTRONG Foundation has also been very active lately supporting cancer patients and their families. Their annual report indicates that over $17 million was spent on behalf of cancer patients supporting research, community awareness, patient care, and advocacy.
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 undoubtedly super frustrating for these smaller organizations to raise awareness and more importantly funding for needed programs just on a smaller scale. With so many types of cancer from thyroid cancer patients hearing from others that they are “lucky” to liver cancer being overlooked in October (October is also liver cancer awareness month), it can be very discouraging to feel as though you have been left behind.
On the subject 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.