A more charitable charity

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In the fight for a cure against cancer, we must account for all those who are afflicted

If you haven’t read the flyers or been to the Web site, the affectionately named “UVU Girl” was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last month, a terrible disease. In the last month, heroic efforts have been made to help her fight this battle and raise the necessary $350,000 for a much-needed bone marrow transplant. The surplus of handouts circulated across campus and the article featured in this newspaper are a testament to these noble labors on her behalf.

Her story, however dire and inspiring, is not particular. In this country alone, an estimated 256,000 people are currently living with or in remission of leukemia; and, in 2009 an anticipated 460 children under the age of 15 will die of this same blood cancer. Where are the flyers asking us to help the other 255,999 victims of this terminal sickness? Is there something callous in rallying behind only one when so many others are afflicted?

One may argue that she is one of us and the only right thing to do is stand by her in this dark and frightening hour. Objectively, yes, that’s right but each of the diagnosed is equally loved by their own peers. Those 460 children also represent 920 parents who are left with only photos and memories. Can we really place one life ahead of another based solely on proximity?

Like our own UVU Girl, many of the diagnosed face this trial without insurance or monetary means to battle it. Again, the experience is not singular. In answer to this, thousands of charities have been organized across the nation. In lieu of giving to individuals to cover medical costs, these charities opt to focus their fiscal resources in helping find a cure and treatments that are both cost effective and efficient. Instead of a superficial band-aid fix, these donations further medical research and offer a universal hope. What takes patience and sacrifice now will benefit future generations and save them from these same heartaches and frustrations.

The $350,000 meant for surgery may be better placed in the hands of doctors who can find an effective treatment rather than in those of the doctors who can offer a 60 percent chance of survival to one single individual.

Let UVU Girl stand as a reminder to what the real problems are. If the need to do right is so apparent, let’s focus efforts on what will be lasting and collectively valuable. As the English poet John Donne stated, “Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls…” No one deserves to die of cancer and I esteem Urangoo, the UVU Girl, for her courageous battle against this terrible cancer. Nonetheless, she is not the only one in dire need and she’s not the only one we can help.