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Is the American Cancer Society a ponzi scheme

Posted Jan 22 2009 6:04pm 4 Comments
This is a re-print of a post by Tom Murdock that was originally posted on the Stupid Cancer Blog. I'm wondering what you think about this. My experience with the American Cancer Society was a great disappointment. I called to get a recommendation for a therapist and no one called me back. Not exactly the support I had been hoping for.

The American Cancer Sobriety: A Non-Profit Ponzi Scheme?

There's been a lot in the news lately about money man Bernard Madoff's $50 billion scheme; he allegedly took money from new investors to pay out withdrawals by older investors who wanted to pull out some money. The problem? Well other than it being illegal and immoral, when the market headed south, more people wanted their money out of the fund than Bernie Boy could collect from new investors. Kablamo, the scheme came crashing down.

Madoff is rich, famous, powerful, and connected. He used these connections to encourage donors to invest in his "fund" – the largest financial scheme in world history. He screwed his friends, family, and people he promised to try and help. Sound familiar? From the title of this blog, you can see where this is leading.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) raised a major portion of their $989 million budget from the "Colleges Against Cancer" program, (CAC) a fund raising tool at colleges and universities across the country. From this near-$1 billion, a mere 15 cents from every dollar goes toward research – and nothing goes toward researching young adult specific cancers(Source: ACS Fact Sheet).

In other words, when those young adult donors to CAC came back to ACS...looking for their investment in the fund (that is, the investment in young adult cancer research), ACS said, "Oops, sorry it's all gone."

When asked about this, Kathy Smith an American Cancer Society executive said, " ACS cannot fund research that does not exist."

Excuse me? Come again?

Since when does research precede funding?

This illogical response is the equivalent to something along these lines:

Me:"I'd like some wood to build a house."
Them:"We can't give you the wood to build that house because you haven't built the frame yet."
Me:"But I need the wood to build the frame."
Yes:"Yea, but you don't have a frame yet, so we can't give you the wood."

Literally, that's what the ACS is saying. They, " cannot fund research that doesn't exist." It's insanity! The famous quote from Field of Dreams, "If you build it, they will come" seems germane; but rather, "If you fund it, they will research." We need some of that nearly $1 billion to get research for young adult cancer off the ground.

The 70,000 young adults that will be diagnosed in 2009 and the families of the 10,000 young adults who will die this year from those cancers, are demanding the ACS stop this fraud. It's time for a change in the way cancer research is funded. It's time for every cancer patient, regardless of age, to be reassured that ground breaking research is being funded to keep them alive. It's time for young adults to tell the ACS that we won't be a victim of their Ponzi scheme anymore. It's time for young adults to stand up and help their own.

TheStupid Cancer Funddoes just that.

Tom Murdock is a 6-year cancer survivor, member of the I'm Too Young For This Cancer Foundation Executive Committee, and Chairman of their Global Leadership Cabinet. He can be reached at

What do you think? Have you had a good experience with the American Cancer Society?

Comments (4)
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Thanks for pointing this out!  Unfortunately this is so true.
Your welcome of course. It doesn't  make me happy but I want to be informed when I make choices with my money.

I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in late 2006.  Two weeks after I finished the rounds of chemo and RT, my dad was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer (met to liver).  I have devoted (at least this portion of) my life to caring for dad.  I have come to understand that the ACS is nothing more than a lobbying organization to get money.  I have asked for suggestions about getting health insurance post cancer dx and the ACS people literally laugh.  What?  When I was still getting strong I needed some help getting dad to chemo and I called the ACS.  They told me to call a cab. 

How on Earth does the ACS help us cancer patients at all?  Where does all of there money go?  Why haven't they started a high risk health insurance pool for us?  

You rock KB.  You got my blood boiling because I had not thought about it before.  I have to drink some herbal tea now and relax.

 Stay strong good person.

jodigirl - Most of the post was a reprint but unfortunately your experience was similar to mine. Go have that herbal tea and take a deep breath, we can support each other instead.
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