I was sent this in an email, a quote from President Obama on February 24, 2009:

“Our recovery plan … It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American, including me, by seeking a cure for cancer in our time.”

I’ve personally talked to cancer research scientists who have been begging for the government to double cancer research funding from the 2008 $4.8 billion to $10 billion a year. President Obama says he will do that over the next 5 years.

I guess that’s good, but in my book it’s still not good enough.

Some recent research states the cost of cancer deaths in 2000 in the United States as $960.6 billion, a number expected to rise to $1,472.5 billion by 2020. Another research model using the human capital approach found that cancer deaths cost the country $115.8 billion in lost productivity in 2000; the estimate for 2020 is $147.6 billion.

I always scratch my head when I see monetary figures in relation to the funds designated for cancer research compared to the economic cost of cancer.

Using the larger numbers, $10 billion towards removing the threat of cancer is equivalent to spending $10 a year to partially patch a roof whose leak costs $1472 in household damages a year. If the cost of the damages got higher every year, wouldn’t it at some point make sense to find a way to fix the roof once and for all? Even if you had to spend over $1472 to solve the problem forever? I read that just a 1% decrease in cancer deaths would save our economy over $800 million…almost a billion dollars. Imagine the savings of reducing cancer by 100%. Reducing cancer deaths pays for itself. Curing cancer would positively impact the economy of our country in a profound way.

Not to be negative in the ever “gotta think positive just look at the bright side” cancer world, but I often hear that there are 12 million cancer survivors living in the US today. That 60% of those diagnosed with cancer can now expect to live 5 years. The truth is though, that only half of the 12 million living survivors are free of cancer, the other half are still battling the disease. They are just still alive and surviving post diagnosis, even if only for one day. And the 60% who have survived 5 years are not all “cured” and cancer free at five years. Many still struggle with cancer and some will still lose their battle.

I am a cancer survivor and advocate. I live in the cancer world, and the cancer I advocate for is most often diagnosed at Stage 4. I talk to people almost daily who want to live long enough for their children to remember them, to see their two year old start school, to go on one last family vacation with their children…and who sometimes don’t make even that. I’ve communicated with single parents of handicapped children who have not survived. Even when I’m not in the cancer advocate world and am just at work at my hospital ICU I am often asked to talk to patients newly discovered to have cancer…just in the past few months I’ve talked to a kidney cancer patient, a lung cancer patient, a uterine cancer patient, and advanced melanoma cancer patient.

Last night I went to my health club and talked to a woman who lost her mother at age 20 after she’d battled cancer for 10 years. Her father decades later finally met another woman he came to love…a woman who three years later also succumbed to cancer. Now her father has cancer. When I came home I talked to my sister-in-law, also newly diagnosed with cancer (who lost both parents to cancer before her first child was born).

Cancer is everywhere I go. It affects someone I talk to every day….every single day.

I’m so tired of cancer. I’m angry that our society is plagued with this disease. I’m so tired of witnessing so much heartache. I want an answer. I want a cure. I want one day to not have to be a cancer advocate, to not have cancer in our world, to not think about cancer. I want funding a cure for cancer to be a national priority, like the $1 trillion dollar priority we have made fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. I read today that in the end the Iraq war may cost $2-3 trillion.

I want a $1 trillion dollar war on cancer, the enemy that kills over 500,000 Americans a year (that’s about the amount that would be realized in savings per year cancer if cancer were cured). Not $10 billion, that’s not enough. We can do better than that.