Avalon's Army of Angels
|The American Cancer Society's (ACS)
Relay for Life (RFL)
|The article below appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution on
March 12, 2006. It was written by the father of a pediatric cancer patient.
The article has become rather infamous in Childhood Cancer circles. I've
gone to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution website and downloaded it
directly from their archives. Please, take the time to read it, and really
think about where you spend your charity dollars. Make sure you know
how the money is actually being spent.
(Another story about the Prescotts. Scroll down to "New Ad Campaign Focuses on Parents")
Gwinnett Opinions: MY VIEW: Kids' cancer research merits more attention
BYLINE: BRUCE PRESCOTT
DATE: March 12, 2006
PUBLICATION: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The (GA)
EDITION: Main; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
SECTION: Gwinnett News
The American Cancer Society's Relay for Life is the world's largest fund-raising relay event,
with more than 4,500 events in the United States and additional ones in other countries. In
Georgia, there are more than 150 events. Gwinnett County's is the largest Relay for Life
event in the world.
More than 3 million Americans will participate in relay events this year in honor or memory of
a family member or friend affected by cancer. They will spend countless hours and donate
more than $400 million with the expectation that their time and money will get us closer to a
cure for cancer.
But which cancers will benefit from that money?
There are roughly 100 different types of cancer; each one takes different drugs and
treatments or different combinations of the same drugs and treatments. As with any other
financial entity, the American Cancer Society budgets its income (donations) according to
the largest need down to the smallest need. There will be about 1.4 million adults diagnosed
with cancer this year. In contrast, there will be only about 12,500 children diagnosed. Also
like any other financial entity, the American Cancer Society and Relay for Life look for
creative ways to promote their cause in order to maximize the inflow of funds.
Gwinnett County raised nearly $2.3 million dollars in its relay last year, with 1,716 cancer
survivors participating and 10,000 people taking part. The Gwinnett school system donates
the most money -- more than $1.1 million. Ninety-five percent of Gwinnett schools participate.
To promote the relay, organizers search for "Honorary Chairpersons" -- people who have
battled cancer and survived or are still battling cancer, but are survivors! The honorary
chairpersons are presented at a large kickoff pep rally with guest speakers, recording
artists, testimonials and all the fanfare. They're paraded across a stage for all to see who
we are fighting for. We want to help these people! At the 2003 relay, my 4-year-old
daughter Shelby was an honorary chairperson. There were 20 that year -- 19 children and
one adult. Shelby was the youngest.
Shelby was diagnosed with the childhood cancer neuroblastoma on Nov. 30, 2001. Only
about 600 cases (some reports say 1,000 or more) of neuroblastoma are diagnosed each
year. Half of these children will die within five years. Since Shelby participated in the Relay
for Life, I have learned a lot about the distribution of donations within the cancer world.
As I mentioned before, the cancer society distributes its funds according to the greatest
need or the greatest number of patients affected. According to the society's funding chart
for 2002-2003, $132 million was given to cancer research -- and only $7 million of that
amount was given to childhood cancer research.
Donations for the same time period were nearly $1 billion. The other $868 million went to
cancer awareness programs, group counseling, seminars, resource guides and many other
help programs, as well as smaller amounts for fund-raising efforts, salaries and other
One side note: When we tried to get a brochure on programs for children diagnosed with
cancer, there wasn't one.
Anyway, back to the distribution of funds. Based on the above breakdown, if you had
donated $100 to Relay for Life hoping to show your support for the honorary chairpersons,
$12.50 would have gone to research adult cancers, while only 70 cents would have gone to
childhood cancer research. How much of that 70 cents would be for neuroblastoma
Let's look at this from another angle. Gwinnett Relay For Life's group of honorary
chairpersons was 95 percent children, but only 0.70 percent (that's right, less than 1
percent) of the donations would go toward childhood cancer research.
I think there's something wrong with this picture. Don't you?
I'm not trying to get people to stop donating and participating in Relay for Life. The
American Cancer Society does a lot of good for the adult world of cancer.
But if you see a bald child suffering from cancer and feel compelled to help cure childhood
cancer, please research organizations that put children first and support those
When Shelby was first diagnosed, the drugs used in her protocol were all "hand-me-down"
drugs developed and tested for adult cancers. Once they went through the five to 10 years
of testing to be FDA-approved for adults, they had to go through another five to 10 years of
retesting and reapproval for use in children. Not one drug that was used in Shelby's
treatment was designed specifically for neuroblastoma -- or any other childhood cancers.
If childhood cancer is your priority, here are just five of the many organizations I would
• CURE Childhood Cancer
• The Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorder Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta
• CureSearch/National Childhood Cancer Foundation
• The Children's Neuroblastoma Cancer Foundation
• St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
These organizations are strictly dedicated to childhood cancers and other life-threatening
diseases in children.
You may think I'm biased because I'm the parent of a child with cancer. I also am the
husband of a woman with cancer. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in October. Her
mother died of breast cancer seven years ago. There is a huge need for funding in all areas
of cancer research, but please take the time to pick the right organization to put your money
If it's breast cancer research or colon cancer research, by all means, get a team together
and walk in the relay. But don't walk in memory or honor of a child. It will only be a waste of
your time and resources.
• Bruce Prescott, his wife, Faith, and their son, Steven, live in the Snellville/Lilburn area. The
family has lived in Gwinnett for 15 years. Mr. Prescott is a sales associate for a commercial
cable TV equipment distributor and an active member of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in
The Prescotts' daughter, Shelby, was a kindergartner at Gwin Oaks Elementary School. She
died Oct. 22, 2004. She was two months shy of her sixth birthday.
Bruce Prescott's daughter, Shelby, a kindergartner at Gwin Oaks Elementary School, died
two months before her sixth birthday after struggling with the childhood cancer
neuroblastoma. Prescott says not one drug used in her treatment was designed specifically
to fight the disease.
|Below are two more links that are connected to Mr. Prescott. I want you
to know, he is real, his daughter was real, and his enduring pain from her
loss...is agonizingly real. Stories like his, and how his daughter was used,
but never helped - are what make me so militant about pediatric cancer
charity funding. I'm holding onto MY daughter with every ounce of my
being. I do not take kindly to people using children like her, to benefit
Gwinnett Opinions: Gwinnett Relay for Life largest of its kind in world
The following information was provided by the American Cancer Society about the impact
of the organization and its Relay for Life:
• All funds raised at the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life events go to benefit the
fight against cancer through education, advocacy, research and services for patients.
• The Gwinnett Relay is the largest Relay for Life event in the world, raising nearly $2.3
million in 2005. Ten thousand people and 1,716 cancer survivors participated last year.
The goal for this year is to have 2006 cancer survivors walking the first lap around the
track at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds.
• Ninety-five percent of Gwinnett County schools participate in the Gwinnett Relay for Life,
and the school system is the largest donor, providing more than $1.1 million.
• The American Cancer Society research program is celebrating its 60th anniversary this
year. Since the beginning of the program, the ACS has donated more than $2.7 billion to
research, more than any other nonprofit entity and second only to the federal
government. It has been part of every major cancer breakthrough, from the PAP test to
mammography to colonoscopy, to PSA tests, to "miracle" drugs like Gleevec, Herceptin
and Tamoxifen. It has funded the research of 38 Nobel Prize winners.
• In the 60 years since the research program started, the five-year cancer survival rate
has nearly doubled.
• There are 10.1 million cancer survivors today due to breakthroughs in the early
detection and treatment of cancer. The recent announcement in the drop in cancer
deaths for the first time in 70 years is due in large part to work of the American Cancer
Society on cancer prevention, early detection and treatment and advocacy to decrease
the number of people who smoke.
|Of course, the American Cancer Society deserved their chance to defend
their position. The Atlanta Journal Constitution contacted them. This is
also directly copied from the AJC website archives. (I had to pay $5.95 to
be able to download these! I believe in absolute honesty!!)
|(The foundation that Mr. Prescott is currently working with)
|Hmmm....seems to me the ACS pretty much proved Mr. Prescott's point.