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Part 2 of this three-part series called the “War on Cancer,” looks at the political response to this nationwide epidemic.
What is the state of this nation’s War on Cancer?
Given that only 6 of the 16 candidates for President of the United States showed up for the Presidential Cancer Forum, you might think it’s AWOL.
Of the eight Democratic contenders, four showed up, including two of the front-runners - Senator Hillary Clinton (NY) and former Senator John Edwards (NC) – as well as Governor Bill Richardson (NM) and Representative Dennis Kucinich (OH).
Of the eight Republican candidates, only two showed up: Former Governor Mike Huckabee (AR) and Senator Sam Brownback (OK).
Neither one of the Republican front-runners - former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (NY) or former Governor Mitt Romney (MA) - bothered to attend. Even Senator John McCain (AZ), a two-time skin melanoma survivor, whose story is posted on the Lance Armstrong's Livestrong website, was a no-show.
The Democratic forum was substantially interrupted by the breaking news of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez’s resignation from the Department of Justice. The Republican forum wasn’t even televised.
The Democratic attendees said that as President, they would:
* make the War on Cancer a national priority
* ban smoking in public places and require the FDA to regulate tobacco products
* make the cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil available to all girls
* support electronic medical records so that we can have a “seamless health care system”
* accelerate the drug-approval process – especially for experimental therapies
* expand clinical drug trials
* implement a comprehensive national health care system
Co-moderator, Lance Armstrong said that costs and lost productivity due to cancer costs this country $200 billion a year. However, we only spend $5 billion a year on all cancer funding.
The four Democratic candidates advocated a “surge” in the War on Cancer. John Edwards said that the Iraq War had already cost $500 billion, money that Hillary Clinton said could instead be funding the NIH and NCI. She said we need to “win the War on Cancer in the 21st century.”
No questions directly relating to the challenges facing eye cancer patients (choroidal melanoma, eye melanoma, uveal melanoma, ocular melanoma, intraocular melanoma, and ciliary body melanoma), were addressed on either day.
Until the next Presidential Cancer Forum, we need to get our cancer in the public eye by telling our story - to our local media, in blogs, in religious gatherings, in social settings, and in our workplaces.
And make sure you write, e-mail or call the six presidential candidates who had the courage and conviction to make the War on Cancer a war they want to win for the American people.
Next Up: The War on Cancer - Part 3: Eye Cancer
The Presidential Cancer Forum was co-sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation and MSNBC. It was co-moderated by Lance Armstrong and Hardball host, Chris Matthews. It was held before a live audience in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
It’s your sight.
It’s your life.