Sunday, October 23, 2005

Untruths in Fundraising


So, yesterday, The Calgary Herald ran a Canwest News Service article entitled "Cancer Epidemic Looms as Populace Ages, Say Experts."

Two things struck immediately struck me, upon which I shall elaborate. Keep in mind, I'm not researching dollar figures here, OK?

In Calgary last June, there was a sponsored walk that occurred over two days. The final figure raised was some $7 million. Between Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, there was some $37 Million raised. Go to "The Weekend to End Breast Cancer" for more info on the event. I'm all for it, in case you're wondering, but I think it is hyperbole to put the word "end" in the event title (and in the web address) ....

This kind of money - and more, and less - is raised nearly every day by organisations in north America, the UK and Europe, and has been raised for who knows how many years.

The people raising this money are, I believe, in a certain age demographic, being the 25 - 50 age group primarily, and the bulk of those in the 35 - 50 range or so.

In the Canwest article, there are these comments: "There will be a significant increase in the number of new cancer cases," and "[Cancer] will replace cardiovascular disease as the No. 1 killer in Canada." All this is supposed to happen in the next 5 - 10 years, so yah, you baby boomers, this means you and it probably means the eldest of your children (goodness, modern sacrificing of the first born?).

What sticks out is that the very people raising the money for a cure are of the same group most likely to be affected by the disease. That's the irony. So many people absolutely busting their butts to raise funds for something that will never occur.

Here's what really bugs me though; how is it that year over year, the dollar amount raised for cancer research and pursuit of cure increases dramatically but yet the incidence of cancer is increasing, at least according to this article, at such an alarming rate?

Contemplate this for a second: what if a cure for the major types of cancer - lung, breast, colon, prostate, stomach -- were found?

So many people would be out of work, but more significantly, there would be a huge, negative impact on big pharma's revenues. In short, there will never be a cure for cancer because that would cost far too much in terms of big pharma R&D, university research chairs, political clout, y'know, all that. And what would all those event planners do?

I will not dispute there have been significant advances in the treatments of some cancers; however, treatment and cure are NOT the same thing. Treatment means that big pharma gets to trial out a succession of somewhat effective drugs, which lulls people into believing that big pharma really does have the goal of a cure in mind. It ain't so, there Leroy.

It is far more lucrative for big pharma to keep up its"We're in a race against" face, when really, there is no intention at all of finding a cure. That would be like beating your horse to make it drag a heavy load up a hill and then shooting the horse upon reaching the top.

Where and how is all that money being spent and exactly how much money is being raised each year? Man, I would love to know that figure. I think it might equal the US expenditures on 'defense.' I think the truth of how cancer fundraising dollars are actually spent would make the escapades of our Mr. Dingwall look like the antics on amateur night.

The sad reality is that people with cancer are guinea pigs for big pharma, which preys upon the desperate. Many will die while pharmaceutical companies wade in billions raised by hopeful but duped believers.

On a related subject, "The Constant Gardener" with Ralph Feinnes and Rachel Weisz.

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