Cancer funding vital to beat disease

By Staff
Earlier this week we ran a story about last week's Celebration on the Hill, a celebration of cancer survivorship and opportunity for members of Congress to meet with advocates for cancer funding.
I feel this is a very important issue for our country, and we cannot afford to waste any time by not properly funding researchers looking for a cure.
We have made tremendous strides in cancer treatment over the last decade or so. A cancer diagnosis is no longer the death sentence it once was.
According to the American Cancer Society, 25,000 new cases of cancer will be found by the end of the year. Close to 10,000 people in Alabama will lose their battle with this disease.
Cancer is such a large issue because almost every person in this country knows someone who has or will be diagnosed. Personally, my own husband had a diagnosis of skin cancer in 2005. The doctor told him that the cyst on the back of his neck was basil cell carcinoma – the most common form of skin cancer and very treatable if caught in its early stages.
The next day I called the doctor's office to protest the diagnosis, after researching the disease. "He has had this cyst for several years, and now you are telling us that it is cancer…He is only 26-years-old," I yelled through the phone.
The reply from the nurse on the other end was, "Ma'am, I am sorry but anyone can get this at any age."
We were sent to a top-notch surgeon at UAB. We were going to have the tumor removed.
By some miracle of God the surgeon looked at my husband's neck and said "Mr. Cason, I have some good news. This is not basil cell carcinoma. You have been misdiagnosed."
A test was done to confirm it. We were lucky. No, we were blessed.
Others are not so lucky; a former co-worker's mom recently lost her short battle with brain cancer.
She had suffered from headaches for some time, but the doctor said she had bad sinuses and prescribed the usual round of antibiotics to treat her the problem.
It wasn't until the suspected a stroke that doctors ran tests and found that she had a tumor on her brain. She had the tumor removed and lab results found to it be malignant. She was given a year to live-best case scenario, and this wasn't the best case. She died less than two months later.
I share these stories with you because the common thread of successful treatment, regardless of cancer type, is early detection, which brings me back to lawmakers. I agree that our legislature should vote to fund the CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program gives underprivileged women a chance to have those tests done that might save their life.
While this was not the case with my stories, too many women do not go in for those test simply because they do not have health coverage, and that has to stop.
We also need to put more money into researching ways to stop cancer growth in patients who have more advanced cancer cells because, regardless of our best efforts, there will always be a few who are diagnosed late in the game, and more research may lead to a cure that would help those patients.
I know that lawmakers will argue about our money problems as a nation, and with funding a massive war on terrorism, I realize we are strapped for cash. But, cancer patients are at war too.
They may not be fighting in the streets but they are fighting in hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices around this country. We cannot afford not to help them win their war.

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