I actually got a response from one of the many legislators I emailed. Peter Visclosky, a Congressional representative, wrote me what seemed to be a personal and not canned email about government funding for the National Cancer Institute. I appreciated that. He said in part “In his Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 budget request, President Bush has allocated $4.8 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This is an increase of $5 million over the FY 2008 funding level.”.

I knew the $4.8 billion number, but the increase of $5 million is not a substantial increase. I cannot understand how we can afford to spend $177 million daily on the war in Iraq while only appropriating an additional $5 million for an entire year to the NCI budget. We spend $7.4 million in a single hour to battle the war against terrorism. I’m not understanding the math.

We need more in the fight against a disease that kills over half a million Americans annually. If we are somehow able to come up with an extra $177 million daily to fight the war on terrorism, can’t we come up with more than $5 million additional dollars in entire year to battle a disease that kills more than 500,000 in the US every year, more than 10,000 people every single week, 1500 every single day?

I looked up other causes of death. The homicide rate in the US is usually between 20,000-24000 a year, cancer kills that many in one month. AIDs has killed over half a million people in the USA, but it took 25 years for AIDS to kill that many, cancer does it in only one year. Motor vehicle accidents kill approximately 43,000 a year, cancer kills more than ten times that many annually. Cancer is a much larger threat than any of those killers.

It’s not that I don’t think we should spend money on our nation’s defense, and I truly don’t know enough about the war in Iraq or the defense budget to criticize the expenditure there. But when we had what was considered an emergency, the war on terrorism, we were able to find $177 million a day to fight the enemy. We were somehow able to come up with the funding.

Isn’t cancer an even bigger threat to our society? Doesn’t it deserve emergency funding also? I wonder how many lives would be saved if cancer research received that kind of investment? Would cancer be defeated? If $177 million a day were devoted to beating cancer, maybe even half that much, I truly believe cancer could be forever conquered.

I don’t know where to go with all of that information from here, but being around scientists who sound like they are on the edge of something big but who can’t pursue their findings further for lack of funding truly had an impact on me. Learning that many of these scientists are leaving the field as they can’t get funding for the research they are so passionate about truly saddens me. I wonder how much have we already lost in the war on cancer?