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Running For Good Causes

Are Walking, Running and Cycling Fund Raisers Useless?

They are if you consider the amount of money raised and the pathetic results we see from all that investment in so called “research”.

The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show that Cancer and Heart disease accounted for more than half of all the deaths in Canada. Cancer has pulled ahead as number one accounting for 30% of all deaths in Canada while heart disease and strokes accounted for 28% of all deaths in Canada.

Cancer accounts for the majority of deaths between the ages of 35 and 75 while heart disease accounts for the majority of deaths in people over 85 years of age. I guess this means that if you survive cancer or live cancer-free, in the end heart disease will get you.

I believe that there are two principle reasons why all the hundreds of millions raised fails to make a dent in the death rate; the majority of the money raised goes to research drugs for treatment rather than prevention and the majority of people running should be running every day for their own health, not one or two weekends a year as if walking or running was some type of social event.

Every year thousands of people (mostly women) sign up for the Weekend to End Women’s Cancer. This well oiled machine raises huge amounts of money for cancer research, provides a mountain of publicity for its sponsor (Shoppers Drug Mart) and makes everybody involved feel good about themselves. Each walker must raise a minimum of $2000, in addition to paying a registration fee just to be a fund raiser. This year the top Toronto fundraiser single-handedly brought in more than $75,000 in donations.

Let’s look at the numbers:

Toronto. The Weekend to End Women’s Cancer has raised $121 million dollars for the Campbell Family Institute at Princess Margaret Hospital. This year alone the CIBC Run for the Cure raised $30 million dollars all by itself.

Montreal. In the past 6 years they have raised $41 million dollars for the Segal Cancer Centre at the Jewish General Hospital.

Vancouver. In the past 8 years $22 million dollars has been collected for the B.C. Cancer Foundation.

Alberta. They have also raised $22 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation in seven years.

Ottawa. The amount raised is $10 million in 6 years for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

And these are just the reports from major cities across Canada which does not include many local fundraisers held in other cities such as Hamilton or Burlington. In spite of all this money raised and in spite of the fact that the CIBC run is strictly for breast cancer, all deaths from cancer have taken the lead as the number one cause of death in Canada. What is wrong with this picture?

In the first place the cancer that causes the most deaths among women, 9,300 a year, is lung cancer. We do not run or walk for those people because the majority of us consider this a self-inflicted disease. After all, most of them were smokers. However the cancer that gets the majority of the bucks, breast cancer, accounted for 5,100 deaths in Canada. This year ovarian cancer will kill 1750 women and another 790 will die from uterine cancer followed by cervical cancer at 350 deaths.  And yet lung cancer is practically a death sentence because we will not run or walk for those people.

Breast cancer has its pink ribbons for survivors and prostate cancer its blue ribbons but the ribbon for lung cancer survivors is a clear ribbon, almost invisible to see for the invisible survivors.

For every two women diagnosed with breast cancer there will be one woman diagnosed with lung cancer. Five years after the diagnosis, nine of the 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer will be alive but only 4 of the 10 woman diagnosed with lung cancer will be able to call themselves survivors.

The fact that lung cancer can be caused by asbestos, working in a hazardous environment such as the steel mills in Hamilton or by second-hand smoke is never considered very heavily. We simply blame these people for their fate and offer no treatments and hence their death rate is the highest.

Times have really changed in the last twenty years. Women now make up the majority of smokers. Most of them have to work to support their families. They wind up exposing themselves to harmful carcinogens and they may live with a spouse who smokes in the house and may be powerless to change the situation.

Then there is the elephant in the room, poverty. Unfortunately the majority of female smokers come from very low socio-economic status. It’s so easy to dress up breast cancer in a nice pretty pink ribbon but how can you market poor women on welfare who smoke. All the pretty pink ribbons in the world can not make this picture palatable.

Throwing all the money at the cancer that has a ninety percent survivor rate and allowing a cancer with a 4o percent survival rate to be alone out there is a really stupid use of the hundreds of millions of dollars raised.

Heart and Stroke Foundation

Here we have another mammoth machine that produces hundreds of millions of dollars for heart disease but once again we have to ask: where does the money go?

You can register now for the June 12, 2012 Becel Ride for Heart. This provides a lot of good publicity for becel margarine who donate millions of dollars for the blessing of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. They also give their blessing to Cheerio’s Cereal, another great heart-healthy item. This sugar laden cereal, full of salt and the high Trans fat margarine have become symbols for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. What a great example they set. People are convinced that if they eat Cheerios for breakfast with a slice of toast covered in becel margarine their heart will actually get healthy. The only thing that gets healthy is the profit margin for these two food companies. In fact, no mater how unhealthy your food product, a donation of one million dollars to the Heart and Stroke foundation will get their checkmark of approval on your product. This is not the way to reduce heart disease.

The foundations that raise the hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer and heart disease research have one thing in common. They spend less than 4 per cent of all the monies collected on prevention. Most of it is donated to drug companies looking for new drugs to treat cancer or heart disease and stroke. In fact the Canadian Cancer Society spends more money on office furniture and supplies than it does on cancer prevention.

If you are really serious about preventing cancer, heart disease or strokes, try to prevent these diseases from happening to you. In the country of Holland they have signs all over the city that say “If everybody sweeps in front of their house, the whole city will be clean.” If everybody in our society would take the time to eat healthy foods, take healthy supplements and exercise every day then maybe we could become a healthier society.

The next time you are asked to walk, run or ride for a charity, make a commitment that you will walk, run or ride for yourself. If you did this every day for 5 days of every week and if other people gradually joined with you then diseases like cancer and heart disease would be greatly diminished. Although raising money for charity is a good thing to do, our society would be better off if each of us became healthier and completely wiped out the need for these fundraisers.


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