October is the month of Breast Cancer Awareness, which means you will see pink, “think pink” slogans, and all sorts of merchandise and fundraisers aimed at educating the public about breast cancer and raising money for research and prevention.
Breast cancer is a topic very close to my heart- throughout my young life, my mother was diagnosed with, treated for, and cured from breast cancer three separate times. She was tested for the genetic mutation (BRCA 1 and 2) and, gratefully, did not have them. Other of my relatives have battled breast cancer, as well, and I, myself, am considered high risk (though I have not yet been tested for the genetic mutations).
Breast Cancer, and cancer in general, is one of those things that affects so many people, that you’ve probably met or heard of someone right in your own parish who has suffered and battled it, and the best things we can do for those people and families in the throes of battle is to be a support system for them: bring them meals, babysit kids, bring them items that make chemotherapy a little more tolerable (lots of small businesses, especially those in multi-level marketing companies put together “chemo comfort bags”), and bring communion to them.
However, it is still good to give to campaigns and organizations that look for ways to not only treat cancer, but work to find a cure and, even more so, seek to prevent it completely. The thing about a lot of these pink campaigns is that not all of them were created equal; some give more money to research and prevention than others, so here is a list of organizations that give a vast majority of their donations to research, prevention, and education.
This is a non-profit aimed at researching natural cancer treatments for people in all stages of cancer. They offer a “cancer tutor” which has hundreds of articles about different types of cancer and types of cancer treatments, and works with patients and practitioners to deliver the most cutting-edge research on treatments in the world.
A non-profit that “provides information, education, advocacy, and awareness for people with cancer and their family and friends who are interested in complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) and natural therapies from a patient’s perspective.” This organization was founded by Ann Fonfa, who has battled breast cancer, when she began answering other people’s questions about alternative cancer treatments and now is trying to get alternative therapies into mainstream practices as quickly as possible.
From their website: “Since 1985, the Prevent Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, has invested nearly $142 million in support of cancer prevention research, education, advocacy and outreach programs nationwide and have played a pivotal role in developing a body of knowledge that is the basis for important prevention and early detection strategies. The Foundation is the only U.S. nonprofit organization solely devoted to cancer prevention and early detection. We have funded nearly 450 scientists at over 150 leading medical institutions across the country. Our public education programs have applied this scientific knowledge to inform the public about ways they can reduce their cancer risks.” They focus on reducing the cancer mortality rate from all angles, addressing all cancers across all populations, and making prevention and early detection services accessible to all people.
This organization aims to eliminate environmental causes of breast cancer to stop it before it even starts. From their website: “…[W]hen 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the disease, how much more awareness do we need? The Breast Cancer Fund is working to shift the conversation from awareness to prevention. We’re working to stop this disease before it starts…” They are very open about how the money they receive in donations is spent and, in 2014, 79% of all monies received went directly into their prevention and elimination program.
This institution covers a lot of different areas, but breast cancer research is one of its core initiatives. It differs from other research institutions because it supports only pro-life medical research, it donates 65-70% of all received donations to research, is committed to avoid paying executives unnecessarily high salaries, uses a non-profit biotechnology model, and integrates clinical care, medical research, and drug development (read more about these differences and initiatives here).
So this October, don’t just think pink, but think about how your money is being spent and how it will most effectively serve the population affected by breast cancer and other cancers, and give to an organization that will ethically and effectively use your donation to these ends. St. John Paul II, pray for us! St. Peregrine, pray for us!