Veronica Gray, Simon Gray, Me, Andy Herrmann, Jessica Herrmann, James Herrman, and the top of Maggie's head (in stroller).
Saturday I took part in the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure. I did the 5k fun run (though I walked it) with Laura's kids, her brother Andy, and her sister-in-law Jessica.
I've never used my blog to solicit money, except, of course, to encourage people to buy my books. I figure the world is full of good causes, and people will naturally support the things that matter most to them, whether it's Boy Scouts, the local library, NPR, March of Dimes, or whatever. People don't need me to tell them how to be charitable.
On the other hand, I have no problem advocating for other things I feel strongly about. I don't mind making the case for atheism and libertarianism. So, here's my brief pitch for why I think that it's worth sending some of your charitable dollars to organizations actively engaged in the search for a cure for cancer: Unlike certain problems, cancer actually has a solution. Poverty, for instance, has proven time and again to be able to sustain itself as a problem no matter how much money is thrown at it. Similarly, if you give money to Girl Scouts or NPR, more power to you, these are terrific organisations. But, fifty years from now, these organizations are still going to be asking for money. I'm not convinced that will be the case with cancer charities.
Cancer isn't a philosophical problem that can be debated for centuries without ever arriving at a conclusion. It's a defect in the normal function of the cells of the human body. There are specific, identifiable steps that the cells must go through in order for cancer to grow. Fifty years ago, we didn't have the tools we need to track each of these steps. Today, we have instruments available to model the cells in tremendous detail, to the point that we can generate computer models of individual protein strands within the cell. We are in the early stages of a revolution in our understanding of the human body. The information contained in any cell was too complex to fully model only a few years ago. Now, we can carry around terrabytes of data on devices small enough to slip into a pocket. We finally have the tools to truly understand everything that is going on inside a cell.
I don't want anyone to think that I'm underestimating the difficulties that still lie ahead. For one thing, "cancer" isn't one disorder. Even specific types of cancer like breast cancer turn out to be composed of lots of different sub-types, growing in responses to different triggers, following different paths of progression. Cancer isn't a single problem to be solved, but hundreds, if not thousands, of interrelated and overlapping problems.
Still, it is fundamentally a physical problem, and the physical world may be complex, but it's not infinitely complex. Our bodies can be understood, and they can be manipulated. There is a cure out there in our future, and once we cure one type of cancer, the others will follow, and one day we will fear cancer no more than we fear smallpox or polio.
All that stands between us and a cure now is time. There are unknown number of man-hours of study and research between us and a cure. But, the old adage tells us that time is money, and the reverse is also true: Money is time. The more money that's made available for research, the more people will be employed in the research, and the faster those man-hours will accumulate.
So, if you are someone who likes putting your charitable dollars toward problems that have solutions, consider making a contribution to a program searching for a cure for cancer.