Tuesday, April 9, 2019

How to Decide Which Disease to Care About

Cancer is rough, even on those of us who don’t have it yet. It’s daunting because there are so many different kinds of cancer out there. Suppose we want to help by taking part in a walk to cure a certain type of cancer. There’s a cure walk and a colored ribbon for just about every type of cancer.

Which one do we choose? They’re all so worthy and we don’t want to the play favorites.

So how we decide? Flip a coin? Put on a blindfold and throw a dart? Spin the cancer wheel?

There’s also an awareness campaign for just about every type of cancer. But I don’t think those campaigns are all that effective in helping one decide which type of cancer to hate the most. I mean, all cancers suck, right? It almost seems unfair to pick a winner. And nobody can possibly do all the walks to cure every type of cancer. You’ll wear out a pair of shoes every week.

Here’s how I think the most effective disease awareness campaigns work. They happen organically. When I see a bunch of people walking to cure, let’s say, pancreas cancer, I think it’s a good bet that the reason they chose that walk over all the other cancer walks is that they or someone they love has pancreas cancer, as opposed to breast, bladder, etc.

That’s the key to effectively spreading the kind of awareness that brings about action. You can squawk all you want about the health danger posed by, let’s say, anvils falling from the sky. People might feel sorry for you that an anvil nearly landed on your head, but they probably won’t do much about it until an anvil falls from the sky and nearly lands on their head (or the head of someone they love). When that happens, anvils falling from the sky will suddenly shoot up to the top of the list of their public health concerns.

That’s how it is with political issues too. If the legislature takes swift and resolute action to protect us all from the threat of anvils falling from the sky and landing on our heads, you’ll know anvils must have started falling from the sky in the suburbs. No one cares enough to act as long as anvils are only falling from the sky in the city slums or Appalachia. Just like gun violence and opioids

That’s just how thing are. We’re all busy people. It’s hard to prioritize.

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