The Industry of Cancer
I’m one of those friends you don’t want to call…..when you are looking for money to support the race for the ______, the bike for the______, the fund drive for the cure ______ (You can fill in the blanks). Please don’t even bother!
A dear friend called me last week stating that she wanted me to sponsor her in her effort to bike 40 miles to raise money to find the cure for breast cancer in memory of a mutual friend that we both lost last spring. I sat up straight and prepared myself for my soliloquy. Had it been 5 years ago, the check would have been in the mail before I hung up the phone. Not anymore. Heartless? Cold? Who wouldn’t want to raise money in memory of a dear friend whose life was cut short by a devastating disease? Well….. for me…. I can see more clearly now.
I have come to the realization that the cure is not the answer. Prevention is the answer. It’s difficult to walk into any store these days, and not see pink toasters, pink t-shirts, pink bracelets, pink telephones, pink dog clothing, and pink bumper stickers on the back of many cars in the parking lot. All of these products claim that their product will help fight or give money to support the fight against breast cancer. Cancer has become really big business.
If you ask the folks at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization, which has raised over $1.3 billion dollars during it’s 29 year history, if any of it’s employees work with the idea that finding the cure is also the same idea that will put them out of work, I’m sure many would say no. Over $1 billion dollars has been spent by Komen to try to find a cure.
Komen has been caught up in the controversy over “pinkwashing” — the use of breast cancer by corporate marketers, in which companies promote their products with claims to donate a percentage of proceeds to the cause. Komen benefits greatly from these corporate partnerships, receiving over $30 million a year and expanding overall breast cancer awareness. But critics claim many of these promotions are deceptive to consumers and benefit the companies more than the charity.
If I had a magic wand, I would rename all disease charitable organizations to include the word “prevention” and make all mission statements include the intention for the organization and its employees to put themselves out of business because the very issues that cause cancer have been eliminated.
Over 500,000 women die annually from breast cancer. A number that causes you to pause. Why, after this long fought, costly battle, do we not see a decrease in this number?
I was in the grocery store about a month ago with my daughter and saw a large end-cap sign for a cookie manufacturer that was planning to donate a portion of every sale of their product to help find a cure for breast cancer. The cookies were of course pretty and pink. I picked up the box and read the ingredients list. These cookies were made with partially hydrogenated oils. Partially hydrogenated oils now can be attributed to over 30,000 deaths annually in our country. Okay…… which would you choose? At what point are we going to say enough!
Well, I have had ENOUGH! I will not support any disease charity unless I know for certain that the majority of the organization’s operating costs actually go towards disease prevention. Why do we not see more organizations like this? Well, this is a very tough battle! This is a battle that takes extraordinary courage and fortitude because when you are fighting for the prevention of a disease, you are fighting against corporations and organizations that have a lot of power. The meat industry, the milk industry, the cosmetics industry, the household cleaners industry, the plastics industry, the petroleum industry, and on and on…. Unless you have deep pockets and well-paid team of lobbyists, you will not have a chance much less survive.
So, what cancer organization do I support? Well, I have selected the Cancer Prevention Coalition (CPC). Love the name! You can find them by visiting them on line at www.preventcancer.com. This organization also goes so far as to go up against the mammogram industry! Wow! “Why,” you ask? Well, unknown to many of us, there are huge risks in mammography. Some of them include radiation risks and false positives. But the one that will just blow your mind is that of the common result of many research studies that have been conducted since as early as 1928 which state that physicians were warned to handle “cancerous breasts with care—for fear of accidentally disseminating cells” and spreading cancer. Despite these warnings, mammography entails tight and often painful compression of the breast, particularly in premenopausal women, which may rupture small blood vessels in or around small, as-yet undetected breast cancers, thus leading to distant and lethal spread of malignant cells!
Imagine… mammography can actually cause the spread of cancer!?!?!?
CPC also states that the long-standing claims and evidence that routine mammography screening allows early detection and treatment of breast cancer, thereby reducing mortality, is at best “highly questionable.” In fact, “the overwhelming majority of breast cancers are unaffected by early detection, either because they are aggressive or slow growing”. There is supportive evidence that the major variable predicting survival is “biological determinism—a combination of the virulence of the individual tumor plus the host’s immune response,” rather than just early detection.
Knowing what I know now…. I will neither bike ride, walk, or give a dime to any organization that raises money for mammograms. The organizations and companies that receive my support will be those that are on the front lines contributing to prevention. Prevent the cancer of your mind: Do your homework and know EVERYTHING you can about any charitable organization that claims to fight disease! I will walk, bike or run with my friends because they are my friends—and because exercise is key to a healthy mind, body and spirit. I don’t need a cause for that….
Toril Booker-Fisher was born in Westerly, Rhode Island. As early as the age of three, according to her parents, she would fret about landfills and air quality. Toril spent the beginnings of her career in Human Resources and Employee Relations with large software companies such as Egghead Software and Microsoft. Returning to her true- calling, Toril resigned from corporate life to pursuit her dreams of “contributing to the greater good.”
Toril founded “Farming For The Future” an organization whose mission is to foster people’s connection to what they eat, where it is grown and how their choices affect their personal health and the health of their community and planet. To deepen their knowledge of the natural world; to create an intellectual understanding of ecology and the emotional bonds with nature; and to nurture an inspire individuals to grow into responsible citizens who truly care about sustaining life. Under her tenure, her organization has fostered these connections in thousands of school children, initiated multiple community garden efforts and pioneered, Farm Tokens For Education. A program that supports local economies, farmers and schools. Toril has had the opportunity to speak about these efforts in various local and national events to include the Jane Goodall Institute in which she also serves as the coordinator for the Michigan State Roots and Shoots Youth Service Learning Project.
Toril also currently serves as the Director of Programs and Services for The Food Bank Council of Michigan. In this capacity, Toril is responsible for various federal and state programs that work to bring food and combat hunger in the state of Michigan. Toril is currently working on re-designing the Michigan Agricultural Surplus Program, which allows the flow of whole nutritious produce to the most nutrition challenged, and fragile populations in the state.