Why Nobody Should Support Relay For Life

Why Nobody Should Support Relay For Life

At what point does fundraising become fraud?

I don't support Relay for Life. I've been saying it ever since I've heard of it, and I constantly receive backlash for it. I fully expect to field negative feedback for my opinion, but I can no longer remain silent about why I don't think that staying up all night walking in circles helps defeat cancer.

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Let me begin with a full disclaimer: I lost my big brother to cancer three years ago. He was my best friend, so trust me when I say and I saw firsthand how devastating cancer can be. I donated my bone marrow to him twice through bone marrow transplants to save his life. He suffered from cancer for seven years before he passed away. Believe me, my opinion does not come from a place of coldheartedness.

That being said, let's get to the point:

It's a wonderful concept, rallying people to donate money to cancer research–but there are two major problems that I have with the execution of the concept.

First, nobody really goes just "for the kids" or "to help battle cancer!" or anything like that. People go to Relay for Life for themselves, so that they can Instagram a picture of their painted face and t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up, with some clever caption like "the squad does Relay for Life." While I understand peoples' addiction to social media (trust me, I've been there, done that), I don't think that we should be exploiting cancer to get more likes and followers.

People go to Relay for Life to have a good time. There's food stands, a DJ, competitions and prizes, the whole nine yards. People donate the money to make a team, and that money does in theory go to cancer research, sure. But think about the amount of money that is wasted everywhere on Relay for Life events.

This brings me to my second point: Relay for Life money does not go towards helping cancer patients.

Here are some quick facts that will hopefully make you think twice before you donate:

-The American Cancer Society (ASC) that sponsors relay for life spends on average $600 million a year on employee pensions. This well over four times the amount the ACS spends on cancer research annually.

-Retired CEO Donald Thomas' salary was over $1.4 million, and VP of Divisional Services William Barram was making over $1.55 million.

-In the same year that the ACS was forced to cut budgets for "economic reasons," the CEO's salary doubled to over $2.2 million.

-In fact, roughly 95% of their overall donations go towards salaries, leaving a meager 5% to go towards "the cause."

-There have been several reports over the last two decades of top-tier ACS employees who have either been convicted of or admitted to fraud, tax evasion, and embezzling millions from the company.

-Finally, the most overwhelming of all: in 2010, the ACS donated just one penny ($0.01) for every dollar donation it received.

Honestly, I am more willing than anyone to host fundraising events. I wholeheartedly believe in helping those who have cancer, and helping to find a cure in any way I can. What I simply cannot support, however, is exploiting a disease that affects millions of families and using it as an excuse for corporate fraud and capitalist benefits. If you still want to attend Relay for Life, then that's your own personal choice. But know where your money is going. Know that while you're dancing all night long in theoretical support of cancer patients, those cancer patients are receiving little to no rewards for your efforts. If you are going to Relay for Life to have a good time, admit that. It's okay to want to have fun. But don't disguise it under a pretense of self-sacrifice.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with a quote from Christina Sariach, an analyst for The Natural Society: "[T]he ACS bears a major responsibility for losing the winnable war against cancer."

If you're looking for better organizations to donate your hard-earned money to, here is a short list of places that could really use it:

-Be The Match National Bone Marrow Donor Registry

-Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Oncology Department

-Make-A-Wish Foundation

-St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

Cover Image Credit: Merced Sunstar

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A Letter to the Girl I Was 3 Years Ago

"Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on but you keep going anyway."

  To the old me, 

The girl who worried too much about what other people thought of her, the girl who didn’t know what she was worth, the girl who was scared to be alone. 

I know it’s hard, you’re just starting out high school and what people think of you is SO important. You want to be accepted, you want to be liked. You alter the person you actually are, because you want to be the person everyone loves. Stop. It’s not worth it. In a couple years it won’t matter what everyone thought of you, because majority of those people wont stick around after you walk across that stage at graduation. They don’t care about you that much. Be yourself, because that is the best version you can be. You are beautiful just the way you are, you are special just the way you are. Be confident in who you are. Once you stop caring what others think, you will feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders and you will never want to go back.

And YOU, you are worth SO much, and that will be your biggest weapon one day knowing that and being confident in that. Stop letting people walk all over you and define who you are, and stop settling for less than you deserve. LOVE yourself first, CHOOSE yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself, and the one with the big Man upstairs. The mistakes you have made, and will continue to make, will never define your value as a person.  Once you discover your self value, you will know what you deserve and what you don’t deserve.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:13-14

I cant stress this enough: it is OK to be independent, it is OK to be alone. Honestly, you wont figure this one out for a while. You will go through relationship after relationship depending on guys for your happiness and that will be your source of self-validation, and that will get your heart broken at times. It happens, and its OK to learn from it. It is so important that you grow out of that, though. Work on yourself while you have the time, make yourself a better you for the right person that does come along, but most importantly, make yourself a better you for YOU. Be dependent on yourself and your faith for the happiness that you crave out of other people. Stop putting yourself through the heartbreaks, and just settling because you are afraid of being alone. Embrace it, and take advantage of it. 

To the girl that is the girl I used to be-

It’s never too late to realize things need to change. It’s never too late to rid yourself of the negativity, and all of the things holding you back. You got this, I believe in you. Take it from the one girl who never thought she had it in her to become stronger. 

To the old me-

I wish that I could go back and hug you and let you know that you are so loved. You are so worth it. You are so special. You CAN do this. Everything you are going through and will go through will be so worth it, and to never EVER give up no matter how much you want to at times. I wish that I could’ve told you in a few years, you will be mentally and emotionally stronger than you have ever been, and everything that you are going through is just a phase.                                                                                  Life isn't always perfect. Life isn't always easy. Life doesn't always make sense, but thats the beauty of it.

Love,

Me, today. 

  



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Walking Through Campus In The Dark Made Me Realize Girls Should Be Helping Other Girls Feel Safer

I'm forever grateful for the girls who helped me feel safe.

If you're a girl, chances are doing certain things, like walking alone in the dark, can be kind of scary.

I needed to walk from the dorms to the Greyhound station downtown to catch a 7 a.m. bus, and if you've ever lived in the Pacific Northwest in the fall, you know some mornings it isn't light until almost 8 a.m. or later. I am not a morning person and neither were any of my friends, so I knew I would probably be going alone.

There aren't a lot of people out and about that early in the morning and, being a girl in today's world, walking alone in the dark makes me nervous.

I planned on calling a cab, but when it didn't show after 20 minutes, I knew I was going to have to walk. As I started walking, I thought about all the horror stories I've heard on the news, all the times I've been harassed and followed by strangers on the street, all the places I was walking that weren't well light or were in commercial areas with businesses that weren't open. I didn't have pepper spray, I don't know a lot of self-defense, and I felt like all I could really do was keep my head down, walk fast, and hope nothing bad happened.

I was more worried than I care to admit but I didn't really have any other options.

I was walking past Gamma Phi Beta's house, with my phone flashlight on and silently counting the blocks until reached the bus station, and at about the same time, two girls were leaving the house in workout gear, like they were headed out for a run. What caught me off guard was when they asked if I was okay and why I was walking by myself. I explained that I was headed to the Greyhound station and no one else was awake, so I was on my own.

Without any hesitation, they offered to walk with me, so I wouldn't be alone.

I can't even put into words how relieved and grateful I was. If they asked if I wanted them to walk with me, I probably would have said no because I wouldn't want to mess up their plans or be a burden, but they offered.

When we were walking, it felt like walking with friends, not like two friends begrudgingly walking a stranger as a favor. We talked about majors, binge-worthy Netflix shows, classes, and when we reached the bus station downtown, we went our separate ways.

I don't remember their names and I don't know if they'll ever know how much that meant to me, but I still think about it, over a year later, and it reminds me how important it is to look out for and support other girls.

Since I feel like I never got to thank them properly, I do it the best way I know how: by paying it forward. When I have the opportunity to do something to make another girl feel safer, whether that's walking with her, checking in with her at a party, or otherwise, I think it's important to do it.

No one understands the struggles girls face just by existing in our f*cked up world quite like other girls. It is so important for all of us to do our part to support and protect our community.

If you have the opportunity to help out someone else in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation, do it. You have no idea the impact it will have.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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