06/08/2015 03:51 pm ET | Updated Jun 08, 2016

Building Igloos or Slurpees

An igloo is a dome that is made out of blocks of ice and snow; often, builders will heat the interior to melt it slightly and seal the blocks together. Igloos are lifesaving structures for people who live or are trapped in very cold and snowy conditions. While igloos are built of snow and ice, frequently slight melting of the interior is required to build up a layer of ice that helps strengthen and support the igloo. While some heat is necessary for the interior of the igloo, it is a structure that is made with ice bricks and snow. Igloos initially seem somewhat primitive, though a little research reveals that they are time-tested architectural wonders. 

In building the organization Less Cancer, we have used many metaphors for building structures. If we were to compare building Less Cancer to constructing an igloo, we would have to be very focused on the materials we would use. We cannot waver from using ice and snow to build a structurally sound igloo. I have seen what can happen when some non-profit organizations try to take shortcuts and build "organizational" igloos with the equivalent of hot water.

Without too much imagination, one can see that using hot water to build an igloo would result in less of an igloo and more of a Slurpee, if anything. In the case of an organization such as ours, the "virtual hot water" would be incompatible funders such as the chemical and tobacco industries. Those would be the wrong organizations to help build the Less Cancer igloo. 

While funding from the likes of the chemical and tobacco industries would solve many organizational challenges, it likely would weaken or even melt the structure of our igloo. Can an organization be in the business of cancer prevention and get funding from those operations that may increase the risk for cancer? In theory, yes, but we see what has happened to all those cancer organizations that get the wrong kind of big funding. On the outside, they appear to be getting stronger and stronger as funding flows into the organization. They build taller buildings to house their mission but, unfortunately, do not grow with the building. Somehow, the mission of ending cancer looks more like anything but ending cancer. 

On the surface, the organization would have all the appearances of success. The taller and more imposing the non-profit's building gets, the further the organization seems to move away from or lose sight of its mission. The result is an organization with all the appearances of power that is unable to address its core mission -- ending cancer once and for all. 

These are not new or unfamiliar phenomena with many cancer organizations. We have seen it over the past century with more promises for a cure. One hundred years later, we live in a world of not just more cancer, but rather a world on the brink of almost one out of every two people having cancer. With climbing incidences of cancer, we see what some would describe as economic growth that comes with cancer, including hospitals, treatment centers and now what seem to be whole cancer treatment cities cropping up. With that growth, new jobs, construction and other opportunities fuel local economies for the near future. 

However, these are only temporary economic boosts, and this is certainly, in the big picture, a much more expensive way to go about addressing the escalating incidences of cancer. When someone is diagnosed with cancer, many people beyond the patient not only suffer from the brutality that comes with cancer but also pay for these cancer diagnoses. We all pay, and it doesn't matter what model of health care we are operating under. Cancer is expensive for all on several fronts. 

Many people are involved with Less Cancer for a variety of reasons. If we can all agree on one thing, that is the hope to end cancer once and for all. As an organization, we will not have any tall towers to show potential funders. We will not have all the bells and whistles of a state-of-the-art cancer treatment campus. There are no special donors. We won't be selling mammograms, CT scans and other medical services. There are not books, guides or funding tricks for the work of Less Cancer. 

Our tools for the organization include keeping the goal of preventing cancer in front of the public. We also provide the tools for education and policy to prevent cancer. Experts understand today that up to 50 percent of all cancer is preventable. Our work to implement policies that will educate everyone from schools to legislators is exactly what we need to ensure that we are, in fact, protecting the public. 

Today we are protecting the public and are seeing policies across the nation and around the globe that are laser-focused on preventing harm to human health, specifically cancer.

The work for Less Cancer does not happen in towers, it does not happen solo with me -- the work for Less Cancer only works with you.

We can end cancer once and for all, but we must do it with your help.