An Appeal from Cancer Survivors and Their
Loved Ones to Make Research a National Priority
No one who faces a diagnosis of cancer is ever fully prepared for
the challenges that confront them and their loved ones. Hearing
the words “you’ve got cancer” changes life, forever. Cancer
remains in the forefront of our minds whether we are currently in
treatment, living well beyond its diagnosis or coping with the loss
of a loved one.
Cancer can strike anyone—no age, gender, race, ethnicity,
socioeconomic status or political affiliation makes you immune.
In fact, in the United States, one out of every three women
and one out of every two men will receive a cancer diagnosis
in their lifetimes.
As cancer survivors and advocates, we, like millions of others,
battle this terrifying disease on a personal level through our own
individual experiences. But it is also critical that everyone touched
by cancer come together to advocate on a national level for the
needs of those currently facing cancer and those who will face it in
the future. Our drive to make a difference is why we wanted to be
part of the AACR Cancer Progress Report 2012, to share our
personal stories and put a face on the difference that cancer
research has made and still needs to make.
To be honest, for many of us before we received a diagnosis of
cancer, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and its parent agency,
the National Institutes of Health (NIH), were either unknown or seen
as agencies that supported abstract research that was not terribly
connected to our daily lives. Now, we understand and appreciate
that, far from being abstract, these agencies serve a critical and
irreplaceable role in stimulating scientific breakthroughs, which are
the foundations for the medical treatments we all rely on today and
which hold the promise for new cures and prolonged quality of
life. Advances accrued over the past decades of cancer research
supported by these agencies have fundamentally changed the
conversations that Americans are having today about cancer.
From across the diversity of our cancer diagnoses, we are united in
our belief that our greatest source of hope for healthier and longer
lives for current cancer survivors and future generations is
grounded in scientific discovery.
Sadly, despite the remarkable progress that has been made against
cancer over the past four decades, a grim reality remains.
Too many Americans are losing their battle with this disease that
we now know is a collection of more than 200 different types of
cancer. More than 1. 64 million Americans will be diagnosed in
2012, and more than 570,000 will succumb to this disease. No
matter which form of cancer has stricken us, we all know too well
the horrific toll of a cancer diagnosis, the fear of what tomorrow
might bring, and the pain and confusion that can follow is
With a burden so high, it is unbelievable to us that support for
cancer research and biomedical science seems to be waning.
The budgets of the NCI and the NIH have been falling over the past
decade and are down in functional dollars by about 20%. We fear
that the once determined resolve of our Nation to find a cure for
cancer has eroded alongside these deteriorating budgets. We are
extremely concerned that our nation’s policymakers will not act
to avert sequestration, which would make deep cuts to these
programs, causing profound and catastrophic harm to the future
of biomedical research in this country. These potential cuts
threaten to compromise the progress we have made and destroy
the hope for every one of us whose future depends on the
breakthrough scientific discoveries that could lead to new and
more effective treatments.
Our message is simple but earnest. Congress, help us continue the
momentum necessary to combat the cancer epidemic, and make
funding for cancer research and biomedical science a priority.
Congressman M. Robert Carr
S. Ward “Trip” Casscells, M.D.