Graphic by Owen McDermott
What comes to mind when one hears the word “cancer?” I immediately think of fear. The fear of how bad it is. The fear of not knowing if the treatment will help. The fear of not knowing if the person affected will make it out alive.
Cancer is defined as a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. These abnormal cells can come from a number of things like smoking, tobacco, one’s diet, the amount of physical activity one gets and the sun according to cancer.org
In February of my sixth-grade year, my grandfather passed away from cancer. Two months later, my mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Having my grandpa just pass away from the same disease, I was petrified. So, I had a conversation with myself about whether I was just going to sit back and let this disease take more and more people’s lives, including my mother’s, or at least try to do something to make a tiny bit of a difference.
I decided to try and make a difference. I made my very own Relay for Life team. Relay for Life is an organization that raises money for the American Cancer Society. The Relay for Life events cling onto people's natural desire to be charitable along with our emotional involvement with cancer and package it with a fun social event. Most people also enjoy a little competition, and in the weeks building up to the event, local businesses and groups challenge and compete against others, trying to see who can receive the most donations. If there was ever a fund-raising event designed for maximum participation, Relay for Life is it.
I would spend hours and hours of my free time making things to sell or going door to door asking people to donate. My first year my goal was to raise $1,000, and since I was an 11- year- old girl, my parents and other adults in my life said my expectations were too high. I raised over $5,000 that year.
However, I ended up feeling like raising the money was pointless. They always say every dollar counts, but does it really? I’m sure some people would argue that it doesn’t matter because the money raised is going towards cancer research at prestigious hospitals and universities across the nation and the world. However, according to patch.com, the American Cancer Society raises well over $1 billion a year, but only about 16 cents of each dollar actually goes to finding a cure. That equates to about $160,000,000 instead of what could be $1,000,000,000. The two CEOs of the “non-profit” organization each make well over $1,000,000 a year. I know it’s a long shot, but what if that extra money was the same money that bred the cure for cancer.
Much valid government and private research has proved that exposure to various chemicals and toxic substances like herbicides, pesticides and food additives can and does cause cancer. However, a look back at who has served on the board of directors at ACS over the past three decades is startling and may help explain why the organization is very hesitant to point fingers at toxic chemicals as being a cause of cancer. In many cases ACS has actually worked against those accusing the chemical industry and has even testified before Congress and defended the chemical companies. Yes, executives from chemical-related businesses have served on the ACS board.
While it is good to give to nonprofits, it is also good to do your research and find out what organizations are really non-profit.