April 11, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention....

I'm certainly not taking away
from the meaning this may have
for someone. I'm just asking..
what does this mean?
Isn't that the saying? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? I never really thought about that particular saying until I got involved with health promotion.  Now we have (almost) every chronic disease covered as far as money raising events...pounds and pounds of potential cure. We have events for cancers, diabetes, MS, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Crones (is that how you spell it?) and much more. Now there is an event in Vancouver being held for those rare diseases that have gotten left out of the money raising campaigns. I'm amazed that there is enough money out there for all the organizations asking for it.

I think the biggest question in my mind is.....does it help? How does my contribution get spent? Are the scientists that get this money making progress? What portion of my contribution actually goes to the cause and how much is going to paying someones wage as they raise for more money? There is no doubt that money raising is a business. A big one. To be able to fuel this economy, we need the diseases. So what would happen if we actually found a cure for cancer? There'd be a lot of people out of work.

This is almost exactly what one must be. For
all the super walks and rides, it is almost
a pre-requisite for a successful fundraiser.
My critical approach to fundraising for disease came about when I volunteered to be Run Director for the Run for the Cure event in Victoria. I wasn't prepared for the flashy treatment we volunteers were in for when I signed up for it. I was put up in Vancouver and shuttled to nice restaurants, listening to TV stars go on about what great work we are doing. In the end, I received a gold plated watch as a thank you for my efforts. Although it was a nice touch, and I realize they have to do something to motivate volunteers, the question in my head (the entire time) was.....how much money are they spending on motivating (and paying) for people to work for their cause? I wasn't impressed. In fact, that was the last time I ever donated money or time to "the cause for cancer" events. I felt dirty.

I have since taken up the cause for prevention education. I speak as a volunteer for "the cause" and do my best to pass along important information on how to make a change by changing behaviour.  In addition, I started to read research and books on other causes of cancer (besides the usual smoking and drinking) that related to big business and the environment. I got critical.

What does it mean to wear this?
It is awareness? Do I have
a responsibility to health? Is
it a fashion statement? Conversely,
how many people will be angered by
even reading this post? Does the sheer
challenge of it, make us mad?
So when I was grocery shopping this weekend, I couldn't help but notice the irony in the fact that most people were wearing the yellow Cancer Daffodil pin to show they supported cancer research..........while they stuffed their shopping carts full of foods linked to cancer. Is it a cycle that must feed itself to stay alive? Has a cancer agency actively educated the public on eating well and exercising as a form of cancer fighting? If they have, I haven't heard it. Instead I see the pink ribbon stuck on a box of Lean Cuisine. What about stress management, healthy communication skills, social connection? They all have ties to health and cancer prevention.

At any rate, I was kinda disturbed by the lack of awareness in the grocery store.  Instead of just a box with pins in it, I would love to see a booth with educational prompts (and the opportunity to donate to get a pin). Perhaps hold an annual health promotion conference for the public with a minimum donation to enter (donated to finding a cure for.....)? Why the same old walks, runs, and rides? Why do we have a ride that lasts for three days without adequate information on training? Why do we have "The Walk to End..." without a focus on how to do it without hurting yourself? Why are we influencing people to put their bodies under severe (albeit short term) stress to raise money for the cure? Not only that, why are we turning people away from participating when they can't promise they will be able to raise X number of dollars? It's a big business.

This "Hierarchy of Needs" from the Center for Disease Control even puts my own comments to shame. It outlines the importance of socioeconomic factors as having the largest impact on chronic illness while noting that lifestyle factors are least influential.  So why, then, are we not focusing on governmental changes to help "fight the war against cancer" (for example)? Or are these chronic disease agencies doing just that? Maybe they are lobbying for safe and affordable housing for all.  If so, I humbly apologize and celebrate those that are raising money to find a cure........
I will always be a supporter for prevention education. I will never support finding a cause for the disease...it's just not what I want to focus on. Hell, I was a caregiver for my dad (who had Alzheimer's) and I wouldn't consider donating to the organization (unless it meant supporting those that support the ill....that's another story).  Nope...I would rather put all my energy into motivating people to eat well, exercise daily, quit smoking, get some friends, manage stress, find passion in the lives, manage anger well, communicate in a healthy way, practice some form of spirituality, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night, and enjoy a good belly laugh as much as possible.

But some would just say I'm cranky...and don't want to be a team player.


1 comment:

  1. I agree with you. It is not in the best interest of these organizations to actually "find a cure" because lots of people would be without jobs. I am a true believer in PREVENTION, PREVENTION, PREVENTION!!! The prescription drug companies aren't hearing that!