Friday, September 30, 2011

Cancer research and prevention should be a national priority

"You have cancer," are the most terrifying words a person can hear in their lifetime, yet are so common with 1 out of 2 men and 1 out of 3 women being diagnosed within their lifetime with the big "C". I can't think of anything else that will affect every American in such a profound way.

I was in Washington DC this week as a legislative Ambassador for the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network. There were 511 of us, representing every state in the union and met with 100% of our Senators and 87% of our Representatives, all with the same message: Funding for cancer research, prevention and the new Prevention and Public Health Fund should not be cut during these tough budgetary times but should be a national priority.

I have personally experienced the benefits of cancer research. In 1987 when I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, I talked to 10 oncologists and I got 10 different treatment options. There was no standard protocol for someone my age, staging and type of cancer. I felt I  had to pick an option and just hope I made the right decision. Twenty-three years later when I had a cancer recurrence, I was able to avoid having chemotherapy because the research done during those 23 years showed that my type of cancer responded well with just hormonal therapy. I don't think I could have endured having to go through chemotherapy a second time in my life.

Cancer touches everyone. In California each year 132,000 will be newly diagnosed and 56, 000 will die from cancer but more than half of those deaths could be prevented by just applying what we already know about early screening and preventative measures. If federal funds are cut to these important cancer programs, this would put even more lives at risk.

Cancer research can take 20 years from the time an idea is originated to the time a new treatment is given approved for patients. If research funding is cut, it would be a major setback in the fight against cancer in finding new treatments and possibly a cure.

I have made my voice known to my Congressmen, now it's your turn. Has your life been affected by cancer? Do you think cancer research and prevention should be a priority? Then call, write or email your state Senator and your Representative. Tell them how cancer has affected you and that life-saving cancer research and prevention must remain a national priority. Next, join the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network to continue the fight against this dread disease.     Let your voice be heard and do it today!

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