Let’s win the war on cancer

Published 8:12 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The terrorist attack on America on 9/11/2001 killed nearly 3,000 innocent people who were going about the business of their lives. In response the U.S. launched a war against those who perpetrated the deadly attacks and instituted many, many changes designed to thwart the possibility that terrorists could once again attack on American soil. The cost of the war against terrorism — in Afghanistan, at our airports, on our waterways — since the attack is measured in the trillions of dollars.

Americas have also been under attack by another enemy. This enemy has killed more than a half million victims in the past 14 years, and has left many more as survivors of its onslaught. This deadly enemy is breast cancer. With the arrival of October come many events aimed at increasing awareness of, and raising funding for, the fight against breast cancer. We are reminded that approximately one in eight American women will feel the effects of breast cancer at some point during their lives. That’s a staggering statistic. Approximately 40,000 people a year, the vast majority of them women, are killed by the disease. This year nearly a quarter of a million people will be diagnosed with breast cancer. In 2015, there are 2.8 million women who have a history of breast cancer, including women who are currently being treated and women who have completed treatment.

Despite the numbers being touched by breast cancer, not to mention the many other cancers that create another type of terrorism for American families, the war on cancer does not receive anywhere near the funding that we spend to stay safe from terrorists.

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The website of the National Cancer Institute, one of the federal National Institutes of Health, reports that Washington funded $4.8 billion in cancer research in the 2013 fiscal year, and funding has averaged $4.9 billion over the past six years. Rounding up to $5 billion, that would make about $70 billion spent on cancer research, far short of the trillion dollars and more spent fighting terrorists.

We understand the need to protect Americans from the harm that many in the world want to inflict on us. Searching out the terrorists, fighting them on their own turf and finding ways to stop their attacks is expensive business. But during Breast Cancer Awareness Month it is also important to understand that we are under attack by another terrorist and the research and patient care needed to fight breast cancer and other cancers is also expensive. And so many of us, our families, friends and neighbors fall victim to cancer’s attacks.

Events to raise funding and awareness for breast cancer during the month of October deserve our support. Organizations like the Gift of Life and the American Cancer Society deserve our appreciation and funding. Be we could do so much more if our representatives in Washington, D.C., put the War against Cancer on a par with the War on Terrorism. It’s no more outlandish today to think we can defeat cancer than it was in 1960 to think we could put a man on the moon. This October participate in the events and honor those close to you who have been touched by breast cancer, but also let your representatives know that we want to win the war on all kinds of cancer, and we believe it can be done.