Watching Friday evening’s “Stand Up Against Cancer!” simulcast, I couldn’t help but think back to a comment/question I received several months ago from a friend of mine, Barb from Minnesota. Barb, a fellow multiple myeloma survivor, e-mailed me this question: “Is it better to have a number of smaller groups raising money and doing multiple myeloma research—or would it be better to have one or two larger organizations doing that?
Great question! I have wondered about that myself: How are we to know who will handle our donation the best? Who will use our dollars most efficiently? Which group, or groups, will help cure multiple myeloma first?
Is a new, loosely formed coalition like “Stand Up Against Cancer!” a better way to go? Their concept is simple: To get researchers from competing researcher facilities and drug companies to work together, sharing info and resources to beat cancer. A grand, noble idea. It certainly can’t hurt—unless it takes money away from multiple myeloma-specific groups who need it to conduct their research.
There’s the rub. Newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients are a small minority among Americans who are diagnosed with cancer each year—less than 2%. It wasn’t even mentioned during the one hour broadcast Friday. Cancer isn’t one disease. It is a common name for hundreds of uncommon disorders, most which need to be attacked in very different and specific ways. Heck, one could argue multiple myeloma isn’t a single type of cancer—there are hundreds of sub groups within the multiple myeloma “family.”
So I’m sorry, Barb—I don’t have an answer for you. In some ways, diversity among researchers is good. Many different research clusters, made up of different groups of scientists, all attacking multiple myeloma research from a different angle—a different perspective.
The flip side? What if any number of these “clusters” are working on the same thing from a similar angle, thus wasting valuable time and resources re-inventing the wheel?
I’m conceding defeat on this one—the question is too large for me to get my mind around. So let’s focus on an easier, more practical query: Which of the many multiple myeloma foundations or research groups should we support with our hard earned, patient dollars?
Over the next week or so, let’s review the basics for each of the established multiple myeloma related fund raising organizations. Maybe that will help us get a clearer picture about how and where our money should go.
Thanks a lot, Barb! Just what I needed—another time consuming, ongoing writing project.
Feel good and keep smiling—I better get to work! Pat