I know this sounds a bit odd, but I'm not big on the traditional cancer orgs, for the most part. For one thing, the largest and most established ones (we won't name names, you know who they are) have gotten to the point where their biggest job is keeping themselves going - so a tremendous amount of the money brought in through their various fundraising events goes to administration and marketing. Which is not where I want my money to go, when what I'm wanting my money to do is help folks with this rotten illness, and/or find a cure.**
For another thing, many of them accept the money of and market in tandem with companies that are actually producing and selling cancer-causing (or at least cancer-assisting) products. A few cents of your purchase goes to the charitable organization, but most of the profit goes towards spreading more of those chemicals into your body and your environment - great, thanks a lot for the support.**
And perhaps most importantly, from my point of view, is that most of the money these organizations invest in cancer research is going towards the same standard treatments (or slightly tweaked branches of those same standard treatments) that we already have going - treatments that benefit the pharmaceutical companies, but which have not significantly changed the survival rate of later-stage breast cancer in fifty years.
Which is why I encourage you to think before you give all of your donation dollars to buy pink running shoes or ribbon t-shirts, and perhaps set aside a bit for organizations that might be less well-known, organizations that are investing in higher risk but potentially revolutionary research - research that very well might lead to a real cure. One good example is Stand Up 2 Cancer - check them out. Another option, if you are looking to do something a little more personal, is to donate to organizations that directly benefit cancer patients and their families - organizations like Gilda's Club or Breast Cancer Recovery or Breakaway From Cancer. Until we have a cure, these organizations help to make the lives of women and their families a little less painful, and that's something we can all get behind.
** for more information, go to the Breast Cancer Action website