Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Another October Down, Yet Cancer's Still Around

Now that another October is in the books, the pink's all been stuffed away and will be gathering dust until fall of next year.  While October's awareness campaigns are important, it's equally important to remember a few key points.

1.) Pinkwashing is still a huge problem.  Make sure to do your homework.  A lot of organizations flash the pink and expect you not to ask questions.  There's a lot of questionable people out there who engage in questionable business practices.  Be careful and pay attention.  Be certain you're donating to a cause, and that the majority of your money is going to said cause, and isn't serving to inflate someone's wallet instead.  This is true of all charitable donations.  Charity Navigator is a great resource that can help you find out which organizations are worthy of your money.  And there are resources available that deal specifically with pinkwashing, like Think Before You Pink.

2.) Even legitimate fundraising attempts don't always target the right areas.  Fighting breast cancer is a great cause, but as others have pointed out, the funds raised in October overwhelmingly go toward funding prevention and treatment for those in low-risk categories, and leave the majority of patients high and dry.  Metastatic disease benefits only marginally from the month's fundraising campaigns, which isn't the most logical, since metastasis is what actually kills people.  

3.) Cancer doesn't end with breast cancer.  Here's a fact that I'll bet most people don't know: lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women.  In fact, lung cancer is responsible for the deaths of more women annually than breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and uterine cancer combined.  While I'm happy to report that breast cancer is pulling in tremendous support from all corners, it's upsetting to realize this fact, and even more upsetting to have to point it out.  Cancer really shouldn't be so isolationist.  It's important to create an atmosphere where all of us have the same access to treatment, support, and the benefits of extensive fundraising campaigns.  

Cancer sucks, period.  It destroys lives, rips apart families, and takes people for the proverbial ride.  It's a disgusting truth that there are those in the world who would use it for personal gain.  But it's happening, and awareness months are no exception.  Be vigilant when donating, and know that it's worth the extra fifteen minutes to research the facts behind the cause.  At the very least, look for infographics that provide financial breakdowns like this one from the American Cancer Society.  

Happy donating, and let's kick cancer's ass all year-round.  

Image credits: Middle -- Leading Cause of Cancer Deaths (2007), via Junk Charts; Bottom -- Where Does Your Money Go? via the American Cancer Society.