Archive for the ‘cancer’ Category

The Cancer Discussion Continued

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Over the weekend, John McCain said something worth repeating.  Here’s the AP story:

Sen. John McCain called Saturday for a presidential campaign that is more like a respectful argument among friends than a bitter clash of enemies, and said he is better able than either of his Democratic rivals to govern across party lines.

“We have nothing to fear from each other,” the Arizona senator said as he wrapped up a weeklong trip designed to broaden his appeal beyond the voters who cast ballots in last winter’s Republican primaries.

“We are arguing over the means to better secure our freedom, promote the general welfare and defend our ideals.”

“Let us exercise our responsibilities as free people. But let us remember we are not enemies,” he added.

I’m a fierce believe in policy and issues debate.  And, like Senator McCain, I don’t consider my debate opponents to be my enemies.

This point was quite relevant to me last week when I posted on this blog my thoughts about Elizabeth Edwards and cancer research.

That posting got noticed in several circles in the blogosphere – and produced an outpouring of responses.  Many of them were thoughtful and, although several disagreed with my position, were worth presenting on my blog.  This is such an important – and emotional – issue that I’m eager to keep the conversation going, even with folks who don’t agree with me.  In fact a few of these comments led to me to alter my view, and I now feel Mrs. Edwards truly did a service by further raising the profile of the critical issue of cancer in the political equation.  The more focus and discussion the better.

Many more comments, unfortunately, left the realm of polite debate.  I’m aware of those comments as well and, although I do appreciate their eagerness and earnestness on this issue, it’s probably better off to maintain a higher plane of discourse.

But thanks to all for taking the time to read my thoughts.  It’s a valuable conversation.  Let’s keep it going.

Let’s Keep Cancer Off The Campaign Trail

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

One of my proudest activities is my work on behalf of cancer research. My wife Marlene is President of Friends of Cancer Research, where I am a contributor, and she is on the board of, and I am a contributor to, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center Leadership Council.

Finding a cure for cancer is a vitally important mission for this country. Supporting that mission should unite everyone – and should be off-limits from the political and partisan battlefield.

That’s why I was more than a bit concerned to see Elizabeth Edwards – herself a heroic cancer survivor and inspiration for us all – bring cancer into the presidential race.

Here’s what I read on Jake Tapper’s blog at ABC News:

Speaking to the Association of Health Care Journalists on Saturday, Elizabeth Edwards said that she and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have something in common in addition to being cancer survivors: “Neither one of us would be covered by his health policy.”

Edwards — the wife of former presidential candidate and Sen. John Edwards, D-NC — said that insurance companies, under McCain’s proposal, “wouldn’t have to cover preexisting conditions like melanoma and breast cancer.”

Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, senior policy advisor to McCain, told the Los Angeles Times that, in the words of the Times, “Edwards’ comments were disappointing and that they revealed she did not understand the comprehensive nature of the senator’s proposal.”

Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, said McCain’s policy would harness “the power of competition to produce greater coverage for Americans.”

I give Mrs. Edwards all the benefit of the doubt in the world on this one, that she really has our best interests at heart by introducing John McCain – who is Honorary Co-chairman, Advisory Board of Directors of the Arizona Cancer Research Foundation — into the political conversation.

I just hope that it doesn’t become a common occurrence on the campaign trail. The cancer conversation is best left to the experts, researchers, and doctors.

Hillary Clinton’s Big Mistakes On Cancer

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Hillary Clinton made two big mistakes in Tuesday night’s debate that were overshadowed by other issues and thus underreported. Her response to Brian Williams asking whether any candidate who becomes President would pledge to be the President who knocks cancer down from the status as number one killer of Americans under the age of 85. Senator Clinton’s answer was:

“I’m going to do everything I can to do that. I went to Lance Armstrong’s cancer symposium in Iowa and it was a very moving experience — not only people like us speaking but a lot of cancer survivors, a lot of researchers. It’s just outrageous that under President Bush, the National Institutes of Health has been basically decreased in funding. We are on the brink of so many medical breakthroughs, and I will once again fund that research, get those applications processed, get those young researchers in those labs to know that we’re going to tackle cancer and try to do everything we can to drive its death rate down.”

The first mistake was factual in her accusations that under President Bush, the NIH has been decreased in funding. The facts are that since 2001, cancer research funding has increased by 26 percent at the NIH. Further, partly as a result of this, 2006 was the second consecutive year there was a drop in cancer deaths in the United States.

Senator Clinton’s bigger mistake was to introduce politics into cancer prevention and research. If ever there was a bi-partisan cause, searching for new and improved approaches to preventing and curing cancer would be at the top of the list. And political leaders of both parties (e.g. Senators Specter and Feinstein) have joined hands in support of these efforts.

I speak with some personal experience, as my wife Marlene and I have supported and funded a range of cancer research, prevention, and treatment causes. Marlene serves on the Board of the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Board of Visitors of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and the Cancer Board of the Mayo Clinic. She is also President of Friends of Cancer Research, an organization co-founded by Marlene and Chairwoman, Ellen Sigal (a dedicated Democrat). For their work on Friends of Cancer Research, Marlene and Ellen were named Washingtonians of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine, two years ago.

Marlene and Ellen’s success and my commitment have been bolstered by their bi-partisan approach in the belief that cancer is a dread without political boundaries. Politicizing this issue can only be detrimental to the ultimate goal of eradicating this disease.

As an aside, I had lunch yesterday with former White House Press Secretary and cancer survivor, Tony Snow. Thanks to successful treatment, Tony is more vibrant and energetic than ever. We will be privileged to be in attendance Saturday night when he receives the 2007 Lombardi Symbol of Caring Award as a testimony to the extraordinary strides he has made in encouraging cancer research, prevention, and treatment through awareness and philanthropy.