It has been 353 days since my last post. One day I will blog again. But not today.
The American Cancer Society has branded its self, in part, as “The Official Sponsor of Birthdays.” Here at the National Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia we’ve known this was coming since December 2008 and many of us have anxiously awaited this launch with sealed lips. A new website, morebirthdays.com, went live yesterday and a few new ads were uploaded to YouTube.
So what is all of this about? For some people birthdays are a struggle. I have a family member who has been celebrating her 39th birthday for at least 15 years. Despite the challenges of aging, as we morph into something far different than a twenty year old body, I hope we can all agree that birthdays are a good thing. A very good thing. A birthday means you’re here. This may appear trivial, it’s no revelation, and I’m not saying anything new. What is important to know is that there is an organization that exists to ensure that you and I and everyone else continue to live healthily lives year after year.
Our vision is a world free of cancer. I’ve never worked for an organization that is as focused and driven to fulfill its mission than the American Cancer Society. From the epidemiologist here in Atlanta to our National Cancer Information Center in Austin, Texas the commitment to help people stay well and get well, by finding cures and fighting back is at the heart of everything we do. The same can be said for the volunteers and employees I’ve worked with across the nation. Their commitment is tangible.
I have found no other organization with the resources, knowledge, and skill that can compare to the American Cancer Society in this field of work. As a fully entrenched social networker I’ve been please to see that the Society has kept up with the new media of a web 2.0 world. We’ve integrated ourselves with Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Second Life and we will continue to reach out where ever people are to share our resources and our message of hope.
Our sister organization The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) in Washington, D.C. has been successful working with lawmakers to fight against Big Tobacco in the United States. It was no coincidence that in his February 24, 2009 address to Congress President Obama called for health care reform to include a “new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time” (April is National Cancer Control Month, by the way).
Nor is it a coincidence that a Bill was passed by the US House of Representatives granting the “Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products”. These things don’t happen without the voice and support of the people, and many organizations are coming together to ensure that our voice, your voice, is heard.
Living a life free of cancer is something for everyone to celebrate. Eleven million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays because of our progress. Countless others have avoided cancer for the same reasons. As the old saying goes “knowledge is power.” Knowing how to get well and stay well is priceless.
So… Now that my lunch hour is coming to an end, it’s time for me to get back to work.
This morning I attended the annual all staff meeting at the American Cancer Society National Home Office in Atlanta, GA. Out of all the interesting information that was shared this morning Dr. Otis W. Brawley, our Chief Medical Officer, comments were the most profound:
When dealing with very complicated things our obligation to the American people is to say what is known, what is not known, and what is believed, and label things accordingly.
How much better would we be as a nation and as individuals if we could be as forthright to recognize and admit what is known, what is not known, what is believed, and label them accordingly in all aspects of life.
The stories of Myanmar and China will soon leave the media. Unfortunately we cannot rely on popular news outlets to keep us informed. Our media culture is suffering from cronic, industry wide, ADHD. Like hungry fish they are easy lured away, biting at anything shiny or new in a senseless game of catch and release.
Myanmar officials have raised the death toll to 78,000. The number will be higher tomorrow. If we are enabled to extend our hands to those who are suffering, what kind of creatures are we if we choose to stay our hands and sit on our wallets?
CARE International accepts donations of $50.00 or more and 90% of your donations are allocated to community development and emergency relief worldwide.
LDS Philanthropies accepts donations of one dollar or more and 100% of your donation will be directed to emergency relief for either Myanmar or China. You can designate where you want the funds allocated.
Administrative costs are funded through other means allowing 100% of donor contributions to be directed to those in need. Although LDS Philanthropies is associated with a church, no proselyting is involved. Humanitarian relief is distributed to those in need without regard to race, gender, religion, political, or social affiliation.
Sometimes the suffering of the innocent can bring about a unity of heart. Now is the time to let the suffering of those in Myanmar and China bring greater unity to us all.
Last night one of my sons asked me if we, the American Cancer Society, have a cure for cancer. I told him no, there is no all-encompassing cure for cancer. There are effective treatments and prevention methods but no “cure” in the sense he intended.
We’ve had several conversations over the past few weeks about the purpose of suffering and why so many seem to suffer without answers. What he was really asking is why do bad things happen to good people and who decides.
This weekend I’m taking him to Relay For Life, one of the American Cancer Society’s flagship events. I hope he will gain a wider perspective on suffering, hope, and the importance of perseverance. To see how powerful it is to give to those we don’t know, simply because we can.
I’ll also participate in the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). If you’re over 30 and under 65, have never had cancer, and are willing to fill out an annual survey for the next twenty years, I encourage you to come and participate in the study. There are several Relay For Life events across Georgia but this year the CPS-3 is only offered at Adams Stadium.
The data collected will be used to track life style, ethnicity, gender, and other factors against cancer rates in the 500,000 project volunteers.
If you want to give back in a personal yet private way, come to the Relay For Life at Adams Stadium this Friday, 05/16/08, between 6:30 PM and 10:30 PM fill out a few forms, give a blood sample, and make a difference. What else could you be doing of greater importance this Friday night? It’s free.
2383 N. Druid Hills Rd
Atlanta, GA 30329
Enrollment Hours 6:30pm – 10:30pm
For more information on CPS-3, or enroll in the study in your area, go to cancer.org/cps3.
It’s no revelation that the majority of people in the United States who smoke cigarettes began as teenagers. Here are some revealing statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2006 National Survey on Drug Use & Health on the fires beneath the smoke.
25% of all cigarette smokers, over age 12, use illicit drugs verses 5% of non-cigarette smokers.
43% of cigarette smokers binge drink verses 16% of non-cigarette smokers.
From 2002 to 2006 10.7 million people began smoking cigarettes for the first time. 7 million, or 65% of these new smokers, were under age 18.
The next time you see four high school aged kids smoking cigarettes know that, according to current statistics, one of them uses illicit drugs and two of them binge drink.
The good news is they can quit, but what these numbers don’t reveal is why they start.
Looking back at my own teenage experience, these numbers seem accurate. In my memory those who were heavy drinkers and those who smoked whatever they could get their hands on, wanted to feel something. They wanted to feel connected while they passed through a twisted age of disillusionment. Many of them were smart, they could see through the hypocrisy in adults and their minds never stopped trying to figure out solutions to their problems. Unfortunately they were often treated with disdain, taught double standards, and left to fend for themselves by parents who were emotionally absent.
Of course I’m generalizing. There are plenty of teenagers who don’t experience any of this and make it to adulthood just fine. Yet, I wonder if you can look at your kids and see their future? Can you tell which one is most likely to be the kid who smokes, drinks, and uses drugs? If you think you can tell, or if you can’t tell, what are you going to do? What are you going to change about yourself, today, to make a difference? What is the trade off?
Smoking is not the end of the world but it is a sign of greater fires below. Help your children so they don’t grow up dowsing their flames of sorrow and anger with alcohol or whatever else the piper is peddling.
The images above are from campaigns led by the Ad Council (Click on each image for a larger view). The Ad Council has also created some excellent videos. Here are links to some of my favorites.
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