My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Cancer Schmancer Foundation, Reston, VA, USA
I, Dr. Carolyn Stroebe, am…..
• A Licensed Psychologist in Berkeley, Ca. --trained as both a research scientist (skeptic & evaluator of research) & a clinician (have seen cancer patient/survivors for imagery & hypnosis, coaching to deal with physicians/medical bureaucracy, & other psychotherapeutic services).
• The daughter of a two-time breast cancer survivor who died of another cancer, possibly a side-effect of breast cancer treatment; as such I have felt the “Big C” diagnosis shock & have fought the medical establishment for my mom through her battles with cancer.
• A woman with some cancer risk: having grown up in the breast cancer capital, Marin County, & having had both parents die of cancer (among other risk factors).
• A small-time fundraiser for three S.F. Bay Area cancer organizations in the context of 153 Alcatraz swims.
• One with many other family members and friends, survivors & not, who have suffered from cancer.
• Fortunate… having had a surgery to investigate possible ovarian cancer reveal no malignancy.
• Pleased to have recently discovered Cancer Schmancer (AFTER my teen age daughter introduced me to The Nanny and Fran Drescher!)
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
• Purchasing products
(everything ran smoothly)
• Planning to do some (very small bits of ) fundraising during my 2nd 100 Alcatraz swims.
• Referring clients & friends to the website (no feedback yet by expect it to be good)
• Personally exploring & utilizing website.
Since my primary exposure to Cancer Schmancer has been through the website, I’ll review/describe some of my miscellaneous observations and journeys below.
• The setting is welcoming and friendly
• The website pulls diverse resources
from renowned institutes & sources.
• There’s a curious body map upon which one clicks on the “cancer site” of interest. Since I am at risk for developing breast cancer, I click on the boobs. This brought forth a list of breast cancer symptoms along with a link to a useful breast cancer cheat sheet with risk factors.
• Another link on Cancer Schmancer sent me to a site where answering a series of questions allows a computer to calculate my individual risk of getting breast cancer. Unfortunately it was above average as suspected. The evaluation informs one about prevention possibilities by differentiating factors one can change (e.g., diet, exercise) and those irrevocable (e.g., hereditary factors).
• I was able to find an explanation of CA-125, a test I was given back in the early 90’s the docs suspected I had ovarian cancer was present. Because my test was positive, the surgery was expedited. Fortunately there were no malignancies and this showed the test to be a false positive. Information gathered with great difficulty then, was a click of a mouse away on Cancer Schmancer.
• Interviewing physicians is one of my favorite topics. I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. I researched my mom’s first cancer and came to conclusions differing from the surgerons, but unfortunately about a week post-surgery. Because the procedure was not what it should have been she got cancer again. We had a second chance! This time I was on top of it. I disagreed with her oncologist and took her case to the tumor board at UCSF where they approved my solution. You cannot necessarily leave your treatment decisions to your physician. Read all about tawk with your doc on Cancer Schmancer (adapted from materials from one of our best medical centers, the University of California, San Francisco).
• Again I’ve not observed the real live Cancer Schmancer in action, but I did learn about Fran Vans and/or how they puts their money where the mammogram is. I was impressed. Fran Vans provide cancer screening for uninsured and/or low income women who desperately need such services. And, Cancer Schmancer goes far beyond. Should there be a cancer diagnosis, the buck stops with Cancer Schmancer, and/or is it the bucks don’t stop with them? Bottom-line: Cancer Schmancer makes sure someone with a cancer diagnosis is assigned a “patient navigator” -- a person who, as Fran says, “… navigates her through the odyssey of the medical community particularly if you happened to be uninsured or underinsured….”
• Cancer Schmancher has physicians and nutritionists to answer emailed questions, as well as libraries of articles about nutritional and medical issues involving cancer prevention.
• Despite learning all about my cancer risk factors, I also got to feel glad that I eat and love to eat raspberries, soybeans & lots of vegetables! I think I’ll start sipping some green tea as well as I read along with Cancer Schmancer and discover which of my favorite ice creams are made with artificial hormones and which aren’t. Later I might and print out beauty care do’s and don’ts for my 13.5 year old daughter who can fill a room with loads of chemicals when doing her nails. Lots to do on Cancer Schmancer.
• Thanks to the website I was able to quickly sign a petition to “tell President Obama to help prevent cancer by getting chemicals linked to the disease out of our cosmetics & other products we use every day.” Wow! How efficient is that?
Ways to make it better...If I had to make changes to this organization.
Not sure I would do anything other than try to increase ways to draw attention to and raise funds for Cancer Schmancer.(e.g., could they sell Cancer Schmancer at Cancer Schmancer? A good thought
but probably not due to some legal barrier?)
How much of an impact do you think this organization has?
I don’t know. I’ve seen no statistics, nor know if they exist. And while I’m familiar with a number of local cancer organizations, and worked for the Red Cross, that’s about the extent of my knowledge of non-profits. However, importantly, if Cancer Schmancer does not currently have much impact, there is great potential: As great as the great people in this organization
For better or worse, Hollywood stars and politicians have power. Star power can draw attention, people & money, and at its best, inspire others to do good, by helping themselves, or the world. Fran Drescher’s is the better.
Fran’s is not empty star power, but quality star power, earnestly earned with the brilliance, talent and hard work necessary for a success like The Nanny.
And far beyond star power, she brings the intelligence, compassion, courage, creativity, warmth, wit, energy, generosity & practical focus to head up this excellent organization battling cancer. She is respected, admired, and credible. People will listen to her. This is huge.
This quality star power at Cancer Schmancher doesn’t stop with Fran. Guess who is on The Honorary Board of Directors? Indeed, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s star power has long been apparent, but her enormous popularity was proven when she, in essence, won the popular vote in the last Democratic presidential primary, and was appointed Secretary of State. Of course, Hillary’s knowledge of and passionate interest in health care also make her a perfect fit with Cancer Schmancer,
Secretary of State Clinton is joined by three members of congress: Representatives Rosa DeLauro, and Patrick Kennedy, and Senator Arlen Specter. Cancer Schmancer’s Legal Advisory Board includes The Honorable Gray Davis – Former Governor of CA.
Lots of stars in this sky.
Will you recommend this organization to others?
Without reservation. And I’ve already done so and will continue.
What is unique about this organization?
Again, because my experience with non-profits is limited, I’ve little basis for comparison. But here are my impressions. The first four features are not UNIQUE to Cancer Schmancer but UNCOMMON among cancer organizations.
1. The political angle, and watchdog role, is not all that common. Some cancer organizations may remain quiet regarding what corporations produce cancer-causing products, not wanting to rock the funding boat: Indeed, many companies that raise funds for breast cancer also make products that are linked to the disease!
Fran has the chutzpah to challenge, and make wonderful statements like: “’let our legislators know that the collective female vote is louder & more powerful than that of the richest corporate lobbyists.” And when commenting on the cosmetics industry said that it is self-regulating and as such “basically the fox guarding the hen house;” continuing she spoke of her “fear that when certain manufacturers given the choice between doing the right thing on behalf of the consumer and compromising safety in the interest of profit… a lot of manufacturers are going to err on the side of greed.” I couldn’t have said it better, even if I could say it publically in the first place. Fearless Fran!
2. Serving ALL women, regardless of socioeconomic status is again, not unique, but not common, and commendable!
3. Although the focus on EARLY DETECTION would seem simple and obvious, in practice it is not. This FOCUS can finally help it happen.
4. I mention again one of my favorite topics, the emphasis on communication with physicians. Fran tactfully names this Cancer Schmancer goal in terms of becoming “greater partners with our physicians.”
The following four features are UNIQUE TO CANCER SCHMANCER:
• Friendly, low-key, practical, down-to-earth. It’s hard to articulate …but country music could help. The Cancer Schmancer website FEELS good. There is a nice combination of information, resources, creativity, spirit and heart. CancerSchmancer.org is personal to Fran, familiar to her adoring public, and just downright welcoming and warm. Not bad for a cancer website!
• Somewhat related to this friendly tone is the feeling of inclusiveness. Cancer Schmancer, at least via the website, feels, somehow all-embracing: the mission statement, in reference to cancer starts we “ We’ve all been affected by it in some way, whether it’s ourselves, our families or our friends” Another sign and in another sense of this inclusiveness is the serving of “every woman, regardless of age, race or socioeconomic background .”
• This quality star power, discussed earlier, is as unique as Fran herself.
• Last but hardly least is humor. How many cancer organizations, websites and so forth use humor? Humor is Fran’s style but it could be more.
It’s long been rumored,
That laughter and humor
Can lead to health.
Could Cancer Schmancer be LITERALLY good for your health? We don’t know but it’s worth a look.
Although the research findings are inconsistent, & methodological problems abound, comedy, humor and laughter may have beneficial results in terms of health, and perhaps, specifically cancer. Indeed, this popular and long-held idea deserves quality research.
Currently research does suggest (and ONLY suggest) that exposure to humor may
• enhance components of immunity
• increase pain threshold.
• make for more effective coping with stress (for women only)
• enhance social support (again, for women only)
• help lessen distress during cancer-issue discussion with partners
• helped nurses foster trust in their patients.
• provide an important coping factor for breast cancer patients: in fact, humor was related to issues such as spirituality, the perception of meaning & purpose of life.
Yes, in the end, Cancer Schmancer and Fran may prove to be healthful as well as helpful. And, in sum, Cancer Schmancer is a quality, star powered organization working hard to save women’s live with the promise to do this in a very big (and hopefully half humorous) way.