Not here to make friends……

in fact, I will probably piss some people off.  At least I am consistent.  And have never been one to “hold back”.   So,  here it goes…                                                                          .

American Cancer Society….Relay for Life…ACS.  I am annoyed.  How is it, that a “non-profit” organization has been able to keep America so loyal to them?!?!?!?  Are American people just blind, or stupid?!?  Now, you may say I am being harsh, but the truth of the matter is, I am TIRED of people supporting an organization that does so LITTLE for children with cancer.  And you should be too.  I guess I really shouldn’t care where you choose to donate your money.  But I am upset and confused as to why OUR school supports Relay for Life.  Are you kidding me?!?!? You are having children….who are personally affected, as in HAVING CANCER….participate in an organization that does NOT participate fairly for Children.  I mean, let’s get real here.  This organization’s slogan is….”Promoting more birthdays”…..SERIOUSLY!!  Helping children with cancer is just as important as adult cancers.  This shouldn’t be a breast vs. colon vs. brain vs. children, all battling for research dollars. It’s sickening.

But let me explain.  American Cancer Society’s top executive vice presidents per region: Donald Gudaitis made $1,686,164 (.18% of budget) in 2013, followed by Jarilyn Johnson Allen, $1,243,660 (.13%) and Donald Distasio at $1,152,329 (.12%).  And that’s only the top 3.  The salaries paid in 2013 at the American Cancer Society was $494,979,980. Don’t believe me?? Go to cancer.org and look up their latest financial statements on the IRS Form 990. Cancer is BIG business I see.  Next, lets look at the breakdown of how your donations to this organization look.

For every $100 you donate, $60 goes to “so-called” program expenses, $34 to “fundraising expenses”, and $6 to administrative costs- or salaries like the above mentioned top vice presidents.  So the above % for the executives receive 18, 13, and 12 cents perspectively for each $100 you donate, or help raise.  I’m sorry, but I don’t feel that these executives perform such a service that enables them to receive over a million dollars in salary!!!  Don’t believe me- investigate yourself.  Go to http://www.charitynavigator.org and see for yourself.

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Now.  On to the kids.  ACS has a great reputation for “using” kids to tug at people’s heart strings and get donations.  All part of their “fundraising expenses”, of course.  BUT….do you realize how much out of that $100 goes to children?!?!?!?!  1 Dollar.  1 Dollar out of every 100 Dollars donated or raised goes to children with cancer.  One percent.  One lousy percent. And you wonder why I am annoyed that the school that MY cancer child attends supports an organization that only gives kids ONE percent.  Really?!?!?  Since when did children stop being our future?!?!?  Shit, fundraising for that Relay for Life event was worth $34, but my kids life….hmmmmm, let’s give a fucking dollar.

But let me further explain why my family and I do NOT support ACS or Relay for Life.  They are a poor non-profit rating agency.  There is a reason they score only 2 stars out of 4 on charity navigator.  Their financials are terrible. And they would score only one star, but they are very open and honest about their financial books.  That’s because people don’t care.  They go with what they have always done. We walk in the Relay for Life because we are a survivor.  Just because you are a survivor doesn’t mean you have to walk in this relay.  In fact, stand up, and boycott these events that have poor ratings.  Find an organization that is fiscally responsible with YOUR donations.

Bigger is NOT always better.  Sure, ACS is one of the top fundraisers (alongside Susan G. Komen) in America….but only because of ONE reason.  Because they spend so much money on fundraising advertisement, their name is publicly known. They are investing your donations into advertisement dollars…..I guess when I think of cancer foundations and research, I think that MY money is going for just that….NOT to exploit and get MORE donations.  USE your resources better.  Let me give you one comparison, of how a non-profit should be ran.  St. Baldrick’s raised $39,176,795 dollars last year,of which $28,726,542 went to research grants.  That equates to 73.3% or $73 of your $100 donation being used for research grants.  American Cancer Society had $143,954,418 in grants for 2013. There revenue for 2013 was $919,529,774.  That equates to 15.6% or $15 of your $100 donation being used for research grants.  A much bigger portion of the American Cancer Society is for their “programs”….that are designed to help the cancer patient and their caregivers.  These programs receive approximately $45 of your $100 donation.  These programs include cancer prevention with online healthy topics and online support programs, breast cancer support, TLC Hair-Loss and Mastectomy support, Hope Lodge, and Rides to Treatment.

So, let’s break this down and clarify one thing…..no matter how you “paint” this….the school that MY daughter, along with two other children who battle cancer, are having a Relay for Life “kick off” Friday May 15th to encourage and promote participation.  I think it is great that the “kick off” is educating our youth about various healthy habits that they can do to prevent cancer….obviously, we need prevention and education, and what better way than in the schools.  BUT.  Why do we need to keep feeding our youth the idea that the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life are a noble charity that is fiscally responsible….something they can depend on.  Seriously????  We are teaching our young to NOT look past the ACS banner…..what is ACS going to do for them?  Or how about the children who are actually battling cancer in the district???

All three children who are battling cancer, have Brain Cancer.  And guess what?!?!?!  May is National Brain Tumor/Cancer Awareness Month.  How does the ACS contribute to this???  Pitifully, considering that the American Cancer Society’s yearly revenue is 1 BILLION dollars!!!!  ONE BILLION….

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I know that American Cancer Society does DO some good things.  That is NOT the point of my writings.  My point is to make people open their eyes to what they are actually getting with their donations.  Not to just blindly donate because the masses do.

Do your research…..want to support breast cancer?  How about the Breast cancer research foundation….a four star charity. Or breastcancer.org  Or the Chicago based Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation.  ALL four star charities.  How about colon cancer?  Well, the Colon Cancer Alliance is another four star charity. For kids with cancer my top charities are: stbaldricks.org, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, CureSearch, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Rally Foundation, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, Bear Necessities based out of Chicago, Jeff Gordon Foundation, Cookies for Kids Cancer…..all four star charities.

And then there are the charities that are small…..but worthy.  They do not qualify for star ranking because their revenue is not at least one million dollars….but that doesn’t mean they are not a great organization.  It just means they have not developed to the point to be rated.  One such great organization is Project Purple, which supports another highly underfunded cancer….pancreatic cancer.  Or, you can go local…..my fellow cancer fighting friends have a locally run organization for children with cancer called AshleyCan.org   I am sharing all of this easily accessible information so that YOU can’t say, “I didn’t know”.  There is more out there that does GREAT things….not just ACS.

And if you are looking for a one size fits all….you don’t want to discriminate against a breast, brain, colon, prostate, or kid…..then look into organizations like Stand Up 2 Cancer or the Entertainment Industry Foundation….it has been around since 2008 and focuses on ALL cancers…..not just one.  (They are doing great things with St. Baldrick’s for children using immunotherapy.)

Lastly, I want to tell you about my experience with American Cancer Society.  It was when Zayla first relapsed back in 2007, and again just recently this past fall.  I went to the hospital branch of ACS at University of Chicago to see about getting help for parking.  That’s what I was told they were there for….to help with parking vouchers and to assist woman with wigs.  I was flat out told “no” that they could not assist with parking vouchers because the patient was not old enough to drive.  Duh, how do you think she is getting to these radiation and doctor appointments?!?!?

So there you have it.  My rant.  Definitely going to irritate people……but damn it, I AM irritated.  I don’t want my cancer fighting daughter participating in events that basically give her the big middle finger when it comes to equal opportunity funding.  She is worth way MORE than one damn dollar.  Thank you very much.100%survival

If my life wasn’t so ridiculously busy, I would LOVE to set up a “Walk on the Wild Side for Life” that donates ALL the money raised to be given to survivor programs, and research that is designed to be a gentle “forever cure”.  That’s what we need. A way for those who find the need to walk the survivor lap to do so with confidence and the reassurance that overpaid executives and advertisements are NOT getting donations on their behalf.  But I don’t feel my daughter has to “walk” that survivor lap….she walks it everyday, with her head held high. And ironically, when I opened my mail today, there was Zayla’s invitation to our local Relay for Life survivor event.  Thank you, but no thank you ACS.  We will not be participating again this year.

Fighting for a “Forever Cure”

17 comments

  1. Michelle galigher · May 4, 2015

    This is so true Chris! When my mom died of cancer we donated the money to hospice of kankakee valley. I feel that for years people have donated to ACS and with all that money more should have been done. Kid cancer should be a priority and research to find a cure. Not providing a salary for the top guy! When people donate to a non for profit I don’t think they realize this. Thank you for the awareness

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    • christymits · May 5, 2015

      Thanks Michelle! Hospice of KV is a wonderful organization as well. And I couldn’t agree with you more…..

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  2. Debbie Swaite · May 5, 2015

    Thank you for your education on kids with Cancer. I will definitely be making my next donation to one of your suggestions. God bless you and Zayla.

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  3. Misty · May 5, 2015

    Amen! Very well written. I have often said this of Relay for Life, sounded like a scam to me… everyone jumped on the “bandwagon” and probably for the wrong reasons for some. :/ I often feel the same for charities that bring water to Africa, after 40 years of monthly supporters, shouldn’t all of Africa have clean drinking water by now?? Where does the money really go? I look at it this way, if you feel truly lead to give, giving with your heart, the Lord will bless you for your actions!! He sees our hearts. It is those charity and research groups being poor stewards that will answer to Him for their wrong doings…. Our findings, suffering and treatment was very short, so we only relied on Ronald McDonald House for a few days. Read his story at http://www.RememberinZachary.com. I agree people need to do research on anything they donate to, whether Salvation Army or Goodwill really give back, or setting up a Go Fund Me page and it takes 8% of the donations! That adds up!

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    • christymits · May 5, 2015

      Great points. I am so sorry about your son Zachary. Thank you for sharing….

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  4. Carolyn Kruk · May 5, 2015

    Thank you. It is so sad to see what so many of these ‘charities’ do with their money. Since you are dealing with a child with cancer, is there a charity that you DO support? Is there one out there that is actually doing good for children with cancer and their families?

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    • christymits · May 5, 2015

      Yes, there are many organizations that do great things for childhood cancer. My favorites are: http://www.stbaldricks.org, CureSearch, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Bear Necessities, The Rally Foundation, Ashleycan.org, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, the list goes on and on. But these rank really high in my book. Thank you for asking….

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  5. smilesmom · May 5, 2015

    I completely agree with you. When my son was going through his cancer journey he would always ask why there was nothing for kids like him to do. He wanted to start a “club” for cancer kids. Nine months after he died Garrett’s KidStrong was filed as a non-profit. I slaved for 10 years to get donations to have safe activities for the kids. We had great fun and the kids loved it but when another, bigger, newer, splashy nonprofit came into town they pushed GKS out. They impressed the local children’s hospital with what they said they could provide so the hospital and clinic started calling them instead of GKS (basically putting us out with the trash). What the hospital did not look into was that this new organization pays salaries, expenses, etc. from the donations, hence less activities for the kids. I never once took ONE DOLLAR from any donation to reimburse myself, not even gas money. We provided quality, fun and safe activities for kids going through and those that survived cancer. Now they have restrictions on who can participate. Heck, we would let the siblings participate because we knew it was just not the cancer child making this journey, but the whole family. I now know how those “Mom and Pop” stores feel when a WAL-MART comes into town.

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  6. Barbara Boma · May 5, 2015

    I supported St. Baldrick’s this year by raising money and having my head shaved. I fully support them and in the past, I gave to ACS – was even in charge of several bike-a-thons! No more!!! I cannot morally donate to a group that spends more on themselves than those who need it! God bless all those children fighting cancer – may they and their families have strength for the journey!

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    • christymits · May 5, 2015

      Thank you for your support!! I shaved this year too….what an experience!! Blessings to you….

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  7. Beverly Circone, Founder · May 5, 2015

    My husband and I have been helping childhood cancer families in ohio for 32 years…counseling, tutoring, emergency financial assistance, parents’ programs, family parties…all free of charge. We serve over 480 families: parents, siblings, & patient child…even if the child dies we continue to serve that family. We struggle to raise every dollar while national organizations raise all the money to do…not much of anything… nor do they reach out to help small, important organizations like ours who exist every single day to help the children, to hug them, to love them and do whatever it takes to show them we sincerely care about them. Bravo to you for writing what we all know to be true…and utterly shameful.

    Like

    • christymits · May 5, 2015

      Thank YOU for stepping up and serving those who are facing the most troubled part of their lives. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement.

      Like

    • christymits · May 6, 2015

      Beverly I want to thank you for all that you and your husband do! The world needs more people like you!!

      Like

  8. Kerry Milano · May 6, 2015

    Have you watched VICE Special Report: Killing Cancer???? It is on HBO, it is amazing how yhey are taking viruses and genetically making yhem so that they attack ONLY cancer cells and NOT any good cells!!!! They have cured all kinds if cancers in trials, take your daughter to MD Anderson in Houston Texas, please wath this show it is just now ground breaking news and of course you won’t hear about it through the media, this could save your daughters life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  9. Nancy Olson, mother of Angel William · May 7, 2015

    Thank you so much for sharing this eye opening info. We didn’t know about the immoral approach of Relay for Life until our son was undergoing brain tumor treatment. We stopped supporting them in 2004 when our ignorance was corrected about ACS and tried to spread the word (before Facebook), and friends prayed about how to get more funding for pediatric cancer research. We tried to piggyback with other non-profits but eventually a friend started one non-profit which you have correctly labeled as being a 4 Star charity, the Rally Foundation, which gives 93%-94% of every dollar collected to Childhood Cancer RESEARCH–our only hope for better treatments and cures. It’snot about advertising or big paychecks—we need cures and better treatments for our precious dollars donated to cancer organizations.When my son relapsed in 2004, I called ACS and asked if they had anything to support teens fighting cancer. This response from them is totally true as they said to me that “they could mail me a coloring book” even though my son was 17 AND the title of it was, “So Your Loved One Has Cancer”–seriously, are they clueless, uncaring or what? I kept pushing and pushing the ACS people I spoke with over the phone as I was looking for a teen support group and they said I could call a homeless shelter in our area to see if they could help pay our bills. What? I was asking for a support group and they offered an agency who might help with our electric bill–which we didn’t need help with! They are so uninformed and insensitive. Then I talked with another person to see what the pitiful pediatric $1 of every $100 raised for ACS is used for and she didn’t know that kids’ cancers are different than adults but she finally sent me the synopsis of 5 pediatric research grants they awarded and NONE of them were real research. One that cracked me up for its absurdity was to get feedback yearly from kids’ bone marrow transplant survivors to see if the parents were happy with the transplant. Duh? If your child was blessed enough to survive, the answer is yes, if not, the hell we put our kids through was not worth it. Put research dollars toward real research! Yet, ACS parades and fundraises using our bald kids and shamefully shares little money for kid or adult research. After 11 years with horrific side effects, our son died from the treatment (not the cancer) from his second relapse. I wish they’d hire a CEO whose child had died from childhood cancer. There’s plenty to choose from, unfortunately but perhaps they could change the culture at ACS and really work for cures. But, then where would they all work?

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  10. Deb · July 13, 2015

    Jen’s Friends Cancer Foundation (www.jensfriends.org) in North Conway, NH raises monies for families and individuals fighting cancer who have no insurance, need help with mortgages, fuel oil, transportation, childcare and groceries. 100% of their fundraising dollars goes back into the community to help – usually about $150,000 a year. Not a big organization, but it’s heart and mission are in the right place. The Board is all volunteer.

    Like

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