This week we will celebrate: on Tuesday President Obama will sign the 21st Century Cures Act with strong bipartisan support for $6.8 billion to research for cancer, Alzheimer’s, mental health, opioid addiction, etc. Early on, I also discovered that the greatest impact on medical research is the Federal budget and “our” tax dollars. So, I joined the American Cancer Action Network promoting what has become the “Moonshot for a Cure” for Cancer.” And I am celebrating.
I have been harping about the same perspective Representative Steve Cohen recently eloquently stated, “My secretary of defense is Francis Collins, because the true enemy of each and every one of us isn’t somebody in South Korea or somebody in Iran or ISIS. It’s cancer, it’s Alzheimer’s, it’s AIDS, it’s diabetes, it’s heart disease — all those dreadful, awful diseases that N.I.H. is looking for cures for.”
When Penny was diagnosed two years ago this week, we knew the odds were astronomically against us to even make it two years. We told all of you that our only hope was research, and we have been plunged into the bowels of two of the greatest research centers in the world–Winship and MD Anderson.
But what has puzzled me is why we give up fighting these diseases that rob us of our loved ones when the battle is over. My grandfather died of prostate cancer in ’84. Penny’s sister died of brain cancer in ’91. My mother died of pancreatic cancer in ’13. My cousin, Bo, a year later. My longtime boss, Lane, earlier this year. And now Penny. And with each death, we made a donation that year to some cancer organization in their name. I joined a walk one year for Pancreatic cancer. And then, we did nothing. I guess we feel hopeless to effect change. It’s just inevitable.
Early in our fight, I also discovered that the greatest impact on research is the Federal budget and “our” tax dollars. So, I joined the American Cancer Action Network promoting what has become the “Moonshot for a Cure” for Cancer.” I have never been extremely political in terms of national efforts. And I was surprised how few people, even cancer survivors, had heard of the American Cancer Society’s campaign to dramatically increase funding for cancer. Unfortunately, it was Joe Biden’s son’s death that gained attention for the Moonshot, and then again, we realize that Beau Biden and others did not live in vain (1 Cor. 15:58).
I have not cried much at all, but I am today. This new moonshot to cure cancer is what Penny and I prayed for and hoped for. It won’t help Penny, but she too did not die in vain. These new efforts will help the rest of our family and friends. It will serve my boys. It will serve those ravaged with Alzheimer’s, mental illness, and opioid addictions, all of which Penny and I have grieved over with many families. I only regret we did not come up with the will to increase funding ten years ago. And I hope we will not give up.
So, this week is cause for incredible celebration! We, as a nation, are finally getting behind the efforts of our research scientists and medical specialists to enable them to fight the battle every one of our families will face. And this is a war we can all support.
I won’t post much more and will not abuse this blog with political rant to all our friends and family who have been so supportive. But I do encourage you to continue the spirit of Team Penny. Congratulate our senators and representatives! And don’t give up on our local institutions and give directly to support Winship, MD Anderson and other centers. Because the Federal budget will not solve this alone. And these hospitals are still underfunded for many of their efforts for care and support. And, they need our volunteer efforts.
I will volunteer at Winship as a Peer Partner and continue to be generous in donating to their research and that of MD Anderson.
So, let’s celebrate but don’t give up the fight as Team Penny till there is
Stage IV to No More!