While out doing errands on the weekend, I was approached by people who were raising money for cancer. They wanted me to sponsor them on a fund-raising bike ride. I politely said, “No thanks” and walked away. I will always decline when someone wants money for cancer research.
No, I’m not a nasty person. Truly.
Several years ago, my parents and sisters decided we should stop giving each other gifts and just make donations instead. I really like this idea. I don’t know who has read which books, or… (or nothing: all I want to give people is books). In the beginning we gave money to a lot of popular charities, but now we look very carefully at who gets the money. It’s interesting to watch how my family’s values change while remaining the same. Smaller charities seem to be preferred over larger ones; giving things is often preferred to giving money; food donations are always very high on the list.
Those of you who know me are well aware that I don’t fit nicely into society. It has nothing to do with my choice of deodorant: it’s a matter of having different values. As a general rule (yes, I know the pitfalls of generalising – just bear with me here), society is interested in becoming “successful” and living forever; I’m not at all inclined towards fame or money, and I really don’t want to live a long time. In fact, I think Maude had the right idea.
So, because it’s my money, I get to give it to the people who share my values. Spending money to get money seems, um, stupid, to say the least: I’m not playing any lotteries. Trying to cheat death is also stupid: we all have to die. Cancer is likely to kill you. I know this because it runs in both sides of my family, and I’ve seen what people have gone through. If a bus doesn’t get me first, there’s an extraordinarily high chance that I’ll die of cancer. Sure, it would be nice if there were no fatal illnesses, but we signed up for both life and death when we were born. Besides, we have surgeries and medication and therapies which will deal with the greater majority of life-threatening illnesses.
My money goes to people who are looking for quality, not quantity. If you want to study pain management for patients with terminal diseases, you’re on (I’m not much for watching people suffer). However, if you’d like to find a way to make life easier for people who suffer from chronic diseases, you have my complete, undivided attention. I don’t want to see any creature stuffed in a corner and ignored just because their particular disease won’t kill them… or, worse, won’t kill them quickly.
If you want my money, do some research into:
- mental illnesses (any and all of them. I know brains are scary, but we can’t really ignore them much longer)
- addictions (watch someone drink themselves to death and see if we don’t need more research. Feel free to do a two-for-one with mental illness)
- chronic muscle diseases
- chronic bone diseases
I don’t need you to find a cure. I just want to make people more comfortable so they can get on with living before they die.
Actually, I lie: I do want you to find a cure. Find a cure for the isolation. Our language shouldn’t even have the phrase “can’t leave the house”; we shouldn’t have people who need to institutionalise a relative because they “can’t handle it” on their own anymore. We have nowhere near enough support workers in our society, and when you combine that with society’s taboos, the results are really vile.
So, thank you for thinking of me, but please don’t post “donate to cancer” things on my Facebook page. Do let me know if you find someone who just wants to make people feel better, though.