The Thinking 

Can Fundraising Overcome Death?

February 6, 2013


ELAINE J. writes:

For years I worked as a nurse at the local hospital and throughout the year we were bombarded with fundraisers. First there was breast cancer awareness, then Relay for Life, Diabetes, Go Red, etc. I guess my heart has been hardened against so many disease fundraisers. It seemed like one wouldn’t end before another started (kind of like professional sports). I saw in the paper just this past week, a researcher lamenting the fact that there were no fundraising blitzes for lung cancer!

Am I not sympathetic to the plight of cancer sufferers? Yes and no. In the mid-nineties, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had a right mastectomy with reconstruction, then six months of chemotherapy and six months of radiation. Luckily I did not go bald and tolerated the chemo fairly well while continuing to work full-time. Not many months prior to my diagnosis and surgery another RN in the hospital was going through the same ordeal —except she dwelled on her cancer. This is all she would talk about: her treatments, her medication, her lab work, etc. I finally avoided her because I would not and could not allow myself to dwell on it. I had work, I had a young family to raise. I had life to deal with, not death. She died years ago. She could not let it go. I honestly felt she ‘enjoyed’ having cancer. I am convinced that is why she is dead — she willed it to happen. Yes, I am being judgmental — I’m sorry.

A woman on Facebook was diagnosed a couple of weeks ago with skin cancer. Her daughter immediately got on FB soliciting $5.00 for fundraising. When I mentioned it to my husband — another fundraiser — he said maybe she didn’t have adequate insurance (Obamacare?). Still, the minute someone is diagnosed with a disease, or in the hospital, or has died there is always some kind of fundraiser held, in memory of, in honor of, etc. They have a walk, a run, a golf tournament, or sell something. What happened to dealing with this privately (as much as possible), except for your church family and prayers of course? Why does everyone else have to help pay your bills?

Is it too late for someone to walk for me? (Just kidding.)

Men are ‘discriminated’ against because they don’t have a ‘color-coded ribbon’ disease and it apparently is more of a tragedy for a woman to die than for a man. (Uh oh—women in the military.)  But there is also this issue of people not letting go and getting on with life.

 Laura writes:

Fanatical, obsessive fundraising springs from the same source as the fanatical desire for “gun control.” Modern liberalism is the belief that for every problem, there must be an answer, a solution. All suffering and misfortune can be subject to human control.

Collective action against disease, violence and poverty is obviously good, but not if this hubris underlies it. Then it becomes unrestrained and in a weird way offends the dignity of those who suffer. The private gravity of disease is cheapened.

A soulless society is a busy, busy, busy world. There is so much to do! We must raise enough money and keep ourselves so busy that we have no time to reflect upon our own mortality and squarely face it. We must defeat death itself.

—- Comments —

Karen I. writes:

I have seen what fundraising and the expectations that go with it can do. My husband lost a little cousin several years ago, after a long illness. As the last attempt to save the child was starting to fail, the doctors said there was nothing more they could do and family was allowed to say goodbye, including me. It was heart-wrenching, and as bad as it was, it was made worse by the press covering the “story.” The little child was a “cause” the community had taken up, including fundraisers with a lot of publicity. As the little one lay dying, the press circled outside, waiting to report the bad news to the concerned citizens of my state. I think the contributors to the child’s fund really considered it their right to know the minute the child passed on, and in fact, the story was aired within an hour of the child’s passing. In the end, the press got their story, sort of. The full story, with its moments of grace and love, was never conveyed because the press was (rightfully) not given any details. The moment the little one went home to God was reduced in the news to a mention of a “long battle” that ended in “tragedy.” And to be honest, even the large sum of money raised by the well-meaning community barely made a dent in the staggering bills the parents were left with.

I visit the child’s grave once in awhile. Thousands of dollars were raised for the little one’s cause, but it is rare to see even a small bouquet on the grave.

It has been many years since the child died, and this was the only time I have ever written of it. Some things are just too hard to put into words, and even this clumsy attempt was difficult, but I do think it is important to really consider what we expect when we donate to a cause. If donations are made, they should be made with no strings attached. There are times when prayer really is the best contribution.

Ben J. writes:

I’d like to respond to Elaine J.’s statement: “Men are ‘discriminated’ against because they don’t have a ‘color-coded ribbon’ disease…”
Oh yes they do. The local grocery stores here in Colorado on a certain month of the year ask you to donate $1 after they ring up your order, and you’ll get a little powder-blue colored ribbon, for prostate cancer ‘awareness.’
This ribbon thing is way out of control, and frankly I’m sick of it. Rush Limbaugh made fun of it on his television show many years ago, you can watch the clip here. Imagine if he did it today! His jacket would be carpeted with them front and back! They also have magnetic ones to deface your car, for everything from AIDS to autism, animal rescue, etc…
Your statement, “Fanatical, obsessive fundraising springs from the same source as the fanatical desire for “gun control.” Modern liberalism is the belief that for every problem, there must be an answer, a solution. All suffering and misfortune can be subject to human control,” is the most brilliant statement I’ve seen all week. Keep up the good work.

Laura writes:

Thank you for the compliment.

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