The editor’s opinion from Marketplace, Northeast Wisconsin’s business magazine. (Obligatory disclaimer: Most hyperlinks go to outside sites, and we’re not responsible for their content. And like fresh watermelon, peaches, pineapple, grapefruit, tomatoes and sweet corn, hyperlinks can go bad after a while.)

July 17, 2008

My favorite fundraiser

Want to drive really cool cars and help the cause of breast cancer at the same time?

And well you should. Saturday is my favorite fundraiser (perhaps I should say fundraiser), the BMW Ultimate Drive benefiting Susan Komen for the Cure, a breast cancer research foundation. The BMW Ultimate Drive has raised more than $11 million since it began in 1997.

For gearheads, this is too good to be true. Test-drive a BMW at Enterprise Motorcars in Appleton between noon and 5 p.m., and BMW makes a $1 donation for every mile of the test drive.

Women know why this is important. In 2007, according to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 240,000 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. — the number one cancer among women — and about 40,000 women died of breast cancer. Only lung cancer is a bigger cause of cancer deaths among women.

For men, it shouldn't take too much time to figure out why this is important. Every male reader of Marketplace has or had a mother. Most have wives. Some have sisters. Some have daughters. Most have female coworkers or neighbors or friends.

I mentioned before that breast cancer was estimated to kill 40,000 U.S. women last year. But according to the National Cancer Institute, as of January 2004 2.4 million women with breast cancer were alive — they were either being treated for cancer or had reached the magic five-year mark after diagnosis.

I know one of those people. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago. She had none of the major risk factors — she had no family history, she wasn't overweight, she didn't smoke, and she didn't drink heavily. (Interestingly, she was one of three women on the block of Madison where I grew up to get breast cancer.) Her case of breast cancer was advanced enough, with lymph node involvement, that she was given a 22-percent chance of surviving five years. The chemotherapy also made her too sick to finish the full course of chemotherapy.

Fortunately, she has survived to see her children graduate from college, her son get married, the birth of her grandchildren, and retirement. Also fortunately, treatment is more effective, with fewer side-effects, than it was even 20 years ago.

The Ultimate Drive is quite a bargain — drive cool cars, and raise money toward a cure for breast cancer. Click here to register.

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