As you probably know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As a breast oncologist, Breast Cancer Awareness Month for me is filled with fundraisers and meetings with philanthropists. Philanthropists are some of my favorite people in the world. In my experience, philanthropists who donate to the cancer cause are inherently good people who usually have been personally touched by the disease. Some have considerable financial means while others give whatever they can. How can you not like spending time with such good people?
With so many good causes out there, how do we foster commitment to the cancer cause? What makes giving to cancer research more deserving than any other worthy disease or organization? Over the years, I have struggled with this and have even felt a little guilty about it.
But then I realized that this is not a competition. As a cancer care provider, my role is to speak earnestly and honestly about what it’s like to care for people with cancer. The challenges are obvious to us who are in the field but communicating our experiences to people outside of the field is enlightening to potential philanthropists. What we as oncologists can do is speak from the heart (without medical jargon!) and provide information to potential donors to arm them with the information that they need to draw their own conclusions.
Given today’s financial climate and the state of cancer research funding, philanthropy is especially needed. Fostering partnerships with our donors has never been more important or necessary.