Cancer kills. We can’t be more direct than that. Cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States behind only heart disease. And we put a lot of attention — and money — toward developing treatments, and hopefully someday a cure.
Millions of Americans are alive today living with cancer, or have actually survived it. That’s thanks to the generosity not only of our elected leaders, but also through various public fundraising campaigns through a number of well-respected charities.
A lot of that attention and time is spent on breast cancer, which claims the lives of more than 42,000 Americans each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. We see that especially during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, where pink is everywhere.
The color first became associated with breast cancer in the early 1990s, according to various published reports, thanks to a magazine that had learned about a grassroots campaign started by breast cancer survivor Charlotte Haley that involved peach ribbons. Haley’s goal was to push more money to cancer prevention like mammograms, which can greatly reduce the mortality rates of breast cancer.
Today, however, while breast cancer is important to remember, we can’t forget it’s not the only one. In fact, it’s not even the deadliest (that spot belongs to lung cancer). Breast cancer is even behind the mortality rates of colorectal and pancreatic cancers.
It’s not just about who is getting the most attention. It’s also about where the money goes. Of the $5.6 billion budgeted by the National Cancer Institute in 2017, $545 million of those dollars were directed to breast cancer, behind only clinical trials overall. Lung cancer was a distant third at $321 million, followed by leukemia with $251 million.
Colorectal and pancreatic cancer? They are well below breast cancer’s funding, even when you combine them at $387 million.
Each and every one of these dollars is important for research, for providing treatment, and to educate all of us on the best ways to detect these cancers early on, because the earlier we catch it, the better our chances of living a long life, even with cancer.
Wear pink and raise awareness of breast cancer. But also wear pearl for lung cancer, dark blue for colon cancer — or better yet, lavender to represent all cancers.
Rest assured, we will defeat cancer. All of them.