By Abhinav Sukla
Look around you, and you’ll see hundreds of happy families with their children, each one with a bright future full of possibilities. Cancer casts a dark shadow over this world, one that has remained nearly immovable over the decades, and it can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere. Seemingly ordinary lives, like the ones of Om Parikh
and his family, can be drastically altered in a flash by a dreaded diagnosis. Every year, over 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the United States alone. While it’s a fraction of the population, the impact it has on families is massive and irreversible. In times like these, it’s important for a community to provide support and encouragement. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds, though. Some are compelled to provide (donations) based on personal experiences with cancer, or those of close family members. The majority, however, find it hard to grasp the struggles that come with cancer. I’ll now tell you a story about the one woman who showed the world the true horrors of cancer and triggered an incredible response from people everywhere.
Almost a century ago, in the 1940s, the American Cancer Society, then called the
ASCC(American Society for the Control of Cancer), was struggling. Its budget was staggeringly low, at barely $100,000, and the amount of donations coming in were even lower. When Mary Lasker took over though, she realized that the problem was that people were not understanding how devastating cancer can be. It’s not like other afflictions, which last for days or at most weeks, and after that disappear and do not return. It is relentless and attacks again and again without mercy, turning lives upside down wherever it reaches. Lasker told them stories of patients who had fought with everything they had, but still had been beaten by the disease, and of all kinds of people who tried their hardest but lost their battle because the required technology was not there. This drove people to raise millions in the following years. Much of this money was spent on research grants for the most promising scientists, and the funds raised helped develop the idea of chemotherapy, which was starting to gain popularity in this period. Remember that cancer isn’t just another ordinary disease, and try to understand what those afflicted with cancer, and their families are experiencing. Put yourself in their place, and you will understand why every penny is of utmost importance. Every small step taken towards eradicating a menace from our society could mean just a little extra time patients spend with loved ones and every contribution could ease a cancer patient’s suffering by an iota that would mean the world to them.
Since the discovery of cancer centuries ago, there have been many breakthroughs, each one giving cancer a small push out of our society. Some of these, like banning chimney sweeps in London, or making the dangers of smoking more well known, simply required removing a carcinogen(soot, tobacco, etc.) from the daily lives of people. Nowadays, though, in a world where people are more aware of carcinogens in our daily lives and tend to stay away from them, focus has shifted to treatment of cancers caused by things we can’t control. Revolutionary treatments like Car-T therapy, which involves genetically engineering immune system cells to target cancer, are expensive to develop and implement. Projects and research like this receive a majority of their funding from non-profit organizations like MSK and the ACS. That means money donated by ordinary people like you, all around the world, is what drives the mission to beat cancer. The Om Foundation is also playing its part here from our very own town of Monroe. They’ve already raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research, and continue to be a powerful force against cancer. It’s now time for you to do your part, and play a role in winning the war against cancer by donating to the Om Foundation and helping them complete their mission to remove pediatric cancer from our society.