It is not in my blood to just hope and pray that organizations/foundations that purport to be working toward advancements in cancer research, prevention, treatment and education are, indeed, doing their jobs. Neither can, or should, you!
When one starts asking questions, basic questions, and can’t get answers, something is wrong or at least something needs to be clarified. Bottom line: We need accountability…tangible accountability when it comes to where our cancer donation dollars are going, how they are spent and the results(s).
How are these orgs/foundations holding themselves accountable? Or are they? These should be easy answers for any nonprofit organization to provide, right? In theory, yes. In reality, a big hell no. I’m talking about the American Cancer Society.
On April 22, 2011, I had a two hour interview with Dr. Otis Brawley, CMO of the American Cancer Society. I had many questions before that interview, but I have many more questions and concerns now. It’s not only what Dr. Brawley told me, but the callous tone in which he ranted about certain nonprofits that is more than disturbing.
As you’ll see in the video, Dr. Brawley minces no words. To hear him say, “Lung cancer groups don’t argue for general cancer funding. The Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) just says screw breast cancer, we just want money for lung cancer,” is more than appalling.
I will be getting a response from LCA regarding this statement and others Dr. Brawley made about the organization. (Disclaimer: All funds raised through my WTF? campaign go to the Lung Cancer Alliance).
Brawley says some prostate cancer foundations are following in lung cancer advocacy’s footsteps by, “Getting more into the politics instead of the scientific principles,” therefore harming their own research efforts. Ok, that could very well be a valid point, but is it really that cut and dried? Believe me, it’s not. There is so much political jockeying, intentional sabotage and ill will between the ACS and some cancer foundations I can’t begin to describe. Sadly, I don’t even know the full extent of it yet. I’m still learning.
But, the kicker…Dr. Brawley says “He doesn’t know why 15% of the lung cancer population is getting actually lung cancer,” but chalked it up to “bad luck.” Yep, bad luck. Seriously, if Dr. Brawley is so brazen to talk in this manner during an interview, what is happening behind closed doors? Every cancer foundation should be concerned, not just the lung cancer community.
I do want to note I was so shocked by Dr. Brawley’s “bad luck” comments that later in the interview I felt compelled to see if he simply used very poor words or if he was referring to “genetics” as “bad luck.” Thank God I asked for clarification. I felt a teensy bit better. Teensy…and for a nano-second.
Either way, Dr. Brawley says lung cancer is adequately funded and it all comes down to “net lives saved.” Yes, we have to remember cancer is a business…and a very dirty one at that, but we are going to wade through it as best we can.
So, here’s what I am doing. In upcoming posts, I am making public all of my questions to the American Cancer Society, as well as its responses. I am still waiting for some responses to follow-up questions I sent to Dr. Brawley and David Sampson, ACS’s Director, Medical & Scientific Communications, following our interview.
I need YOU to become integral part of the accountability process. It will take ALL of us…and then some, believe me.
ps…If you participate in Relay for Life, my next blog post will be of specific interest to you.