A Phone Call That Ended My Breast Cancer Donations

“Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke

A Phone Call That Ended My Breast Cancer Donations

This past week I received two phone calls soliciting donations for breast cancer treatment and research.  I am a breast cancer survivor and my sister died of breast cancer, so I know how important these organizations are.  However, the phone calls this week changed my willingness to donate.

I usually just hang up when I receive phone call solicitations, but when the calls relate to breast cancer, I sometimes am willing to at least listen.  One call came from an organization I was not familiar with.  Many of them sound similar:  Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The International Breast Cancer Research Foundation, The National Breast Cancer Coalition, The Breast Cancer Fund, The Breast Cancer Alliance, and many others.  They all want my money.  But what I want is prevention.  What I want is a cleaner environment.  I want chemicals, especially parabens, removed from the products we buy and use every day.  All the money poured into research so far has still not produced a cure.

The first phone call I got was fairly high-pressure, even after I explained that I specifically choose local organizations to support and I don’t contribute money over the phone.  The caller would not give up, so I had to just hang up. The second call the next day came from Memorial Sloan-Kettering.  I have supported the hospital with small donations because my sister went there for a consultation after her cancer returned.  I don’t send much.  I am now retired and on limited income.  I do support two local organizations, CRAAB and To Life! and I will be volunteering more for them.  After the phone call this week from Memorial Sloan-Kettering, I will no longer be donating there.

It would be an understatement to say that this caller was more than persistent.  He began by saying how much they appreciated my past donations.  That would have been a nice phone call to receive.  But he went on to ask me to donate more.  I explained I could not, but he would not take no for an answer.  He continued to ignore me, interrupt me, and ask me to contribute $1.00 a day, just $30 a month.  I didn’t want to know if this was a one-time donation or if he meant every month because at that point it didn’t matter.  I told him he was not listening to me when I said I was doing all I could and I was beginning to resent his suggestion that it was not enough.  He countered by saying he was appreciative of what I had done in the past and he wasn’t suggesting it wasn’t enough, but then he went on to say he was simply asking me to contribute more.  It was a little bizarre to hear him deny what he was obviously saying, so at that point, I told him I would no longer contribute to Memorial Sloan-Kettering.  I would instead keep my money supporting local organizations where I could see where the money went.

Every time I send money anywhere for breast cancer research, I hesitate because no cure is coming.  The pharmaceutical companies and the entire oncology industry seem to me to be profiting from this disease more than they want to eradicate it.  I know that probably sounds crazy to some people.  I know it is my grief speaking through anger at the loss of my sister.  I am much more at peace now as I plan to volunteer my time to help local groups and send a little money to these groups when I can afford it.  But I will no longer respond to phone call solicitations or mailings from companies that send me note paper, address labels, calendars, and memo pads in the hopes that I will continue to support them. I won’t.


2 thoughts on “A Phone Call That Ended My Breast Cancer Donations

  1. Shannon Coughlin says:

    Hi, Barbara. Thanks for your blog post. I work at the Breast Cancer Fund (we never do phone solicitation, so the call wasn’t from us!). I wanted to let you know that we are 100 percent focused on identifying and eliminating the environmental causes of cancer. The focus of our campaigns is on getting toxic chemicals out of the products we use every day. Please check out our website at http://www.breastcancerfund.org. And thanks for blogging!

  2. ruth says:

    i agree. i just got a call this last week. lady said her name is Maria. she was such a bully. i explained i have NO MONEY. no money to me means. no money. i am still applying for jobs.
    Anyway, i had to just hang up after she tried to say for their record (if calls were being recorded) that she was putting me down for 15 dollars so i said well i will see what i can do and then hung up.

    what i would like to know is how she got my name and my moms landline number because i have my own cell phone and i dont give out my moms landline number. she must have needed my address because she tried calling back again another day and my mom hung up on her because i told her what happened.

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