Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Letter to the editor:

Cancer research can’t afford cuts

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I am very concerned that the March 1 mandatory cuts in federal funding will affect the progress made in the fight against cancer. Federal dollars spent on medical research have produced breakthroughs that are saving the lives of people with cancer. These cuts could have a real impact on people in Nevada.

Last year, it was projected that 13,780 Nevadans would be diagnosed with cancer. Last June, I was one of those people who heard the words, “You have cancer.” It was the third time in my life.

When we moved to Summerlin in 1999 from California, I had just been diagnosed with an incurable leukemia and started on a clinical trial here that was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. I am fortunate that after almost 14 years, I am still at stage zero due to the clinical trial.

Yes, I am very worried that the mandatory cuts will stop the progress made, and I urge members of Congress to work together to avoid a mindless cut and to sustain federal funding for research in a way that will leverage past progress and spur future discovery.

The author is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.

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  1. Both good successful cancer survival stories for the letter writer Mrs.Oliveri and our own LVS commenter Freeman.I want to congradulate both of you for being able to beat this dreaded disease.You both are an inspiration for others who are fighting hard to overcome similiar health issues.God bless both of you and everyone else.

  2. Delia

    Thank you for your thoughtful letter and testimony that all government spending is not "wasteful".

    It's unfortunate that we are dealing with a Congress where too many members seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing. You are correct to warn Congress to avoid such mindless actions and more of us will join you.

    Continued good health to you.

  3. Sadly, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, which researches and develops cures for cancer, and other diseases, will suffer painful spending cuts under the sequestration if it goes into effect as intended on March 1. The President and Congress could have/still can avoid sequestration but so far, over 18 months of supposed trying, have not. The fault lies squarely and directly on them.

    CarmineD

  4. Should not our right wing, anti-government correspondents rather be asking why the government is even involved in cancer research. Surely this is an area of inquiry best left to the private sector, to the free market. Government can never be efficient as the profit motive is not present to drive innovation. This is clearly an example of socialistic European-style health and we all know how well that's turning out.

  5. Pulleeze! Don't let your fear overcome your common sense! Drug companies all over the world are feverishly working to overcome the many different strains of cancer. There's a pot-of-gold at the end of the cancer rainbow for companies that succeed. Cancer research will not come to screeching halt if a few bucks don't go to a favored company of some government bureaucrat. Scientists discovered successful treatments for scores of pathogens long before scummy bureaucrats got their fingers into the mix. The "sky" is not falling.

  6. Pat:

    You don't fully understand what the NIH does, and how the NIH works. Or, you were trying to impugn those who do know by your failed attempt at sarcasm.

    FWIW, NIH partners with the private sector through matching grants and contracts to advance medical technology and progress. If you have not visited the main campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and I suspect you have not, I highly recommend that you go there and do so. It resembles and operates like a college/university campus. Very impressive. NIH also offers internships to top notch college/university students interested in medicine and medical research.

    "NIH works toward that mission by conducting research in its own laboratories, supporting the research of non-federal scientists (in universities, medical schools, hospitals, and research institutions throughout the country and abroad), helping in the training of research investigators, and fostering communication of medical and health sciences information."

    CarmineD

  7. BTW Pat, in case you didn't notice, the author of this letter is a "volunteer." As in devotes her time and talent to the National Cancer Institute "free." No cost to the government and taxpayers. Even you can appreciate that sense of dedication to advance the cancer cause cure without any charge to taxpayers. Novel concept isn't it: Volunteerism!

    CarmineD

  8. wharfrat - "Surely this is an area of inquiry best left to the private sector, to the free market."

    According to that logic they shouldn't be taking tax subsidies, should they?

  9. @Carmine....While my comment is clearly sarcasm from my perspective it does illustrate the quandary in which conservatives place themselves. If government can do little well, a favorite and common meme, then why should health care research be a function of government? The issue is not the size or beauty of the campus, the dedication of its workers or the fact that it provides grants. The issue is government taking over what is arguably a private sector function. Conservatives laud the free market as the only innovator of new products and services and that same market as the force which separates success from failure. Personally I think that NIH does a great job and its mission and funding should be expanded along with the CDC. I'm a believer in big, active government.....single payer health care, mass transit, big infrastructure projects, clean energy research, etc. What I have a hard time figuring out, with all the conservative calls for budget reduction, program cuts, sequestration, and so forth, just what do conservatives want cut? We all want programs which are important to us, our families and our circle of friends and employers. The difference between conservatives and liberals is that liberals are willing to be taxed for a big tent and conservatives want only their tent.

    As for the writer, I made no comment regarding volunteerism. I have donated plenty of time to various organizations in which I have an interest....Big Brothers was one and SKILLS/USA another...so I'm familiar with the concept.

  10. wharf - The private sector does not spend money on blue sky research, particularly when it necessitates finding a cure for cancer to achieve a pay off.

    The decades spent searching for this cure to date have made it clear that there will not be a pay-off in our lifetime. If you still doubt this, try building a website for online donations to cancer research and publish the results discovered.

    Priorities from February 24, 2009:
    "John McCain, Carl Levin, and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the cost of 95 major weapons systems -- ships, aircraft and armored vehicles -- have ballooned by a total of 30 percent in recent years, to about $1.3 trillion. The senators announced an effort, including legislation, to rein in that spending and tighten Defense Department oversight."

    Guess the oversight hasn't worked yet: there are too many priorities needed to Save America but people aren't part of that equation.

  11. Government funding for research put the United States in space which in turn developed a huge list of products and technology.

    A few of which are:

    LED's (light emitting diodes)
    ceramics
    computers and software
    enriched foods
    cordless tools and vaccuum cleaners
    water purification
    solar energy
    fire fighting equipment
    temper foam
    improved radial tires
    aircraft anti icing

    The government does create jobs and research is one of those fields, especially when it come to warfare. By the way, those guys on "The Hill" saying the gov't. doesn't create jobs, got their jobs from the gov't. paying them $170,000 annually. Wish I had a job I could spend most of my time on vacation.

  12. "The issue is government taking over what is arguably a private sector function." @ Pat Hayes

    The NIH [i.e government] is not taking over private sector health functions: i.e healthcare research and cures. It partners WITH private sector to advance the cause of improved healthcare through up to date research and cures.

    CarmineD

  13. BTW Pat, I opine the venue of the NIH university like buildings and campus is to make their private sector partners feel at home and comfortable. Nothing about the NIH looks and/or feels like government owned and operated. Even the Feds who work there refer to the NIH as the the campus. Not the government. No doubt there is a subliminal meaning and reason for doing so. ;-)

    CarmineD

  14. @Carmine....you often post comments trending towards conservative positions so could be considered somewhat of a bellwether of those positions. So can we assume that research into advanced technologies and processes is a legitimate governmental function? Must that research be in partnership with the private sector for potential profit or can it be solely humanitarian or both? What areas should be included? From the comments on this thread cancer research is an obvious one. How about other areas of medical research like, say, mental health [see other threads for commentary on Assemblyman Brooks]? Renewable energy? Effects of climate change on American agriculture?

    As I noted earlier, I am a believer in and a supporter of government involvement in those and other areas of research and action. You must recognize, however, that a substantial number of conservatives do not believe that government should be involved at all.

  15. OK, so sequestration cuts will result in losing our #1 status in the only area of top status we hold in the world in healthcare.

    Guess we will have to accept death by cancer as a given in life, unless we have the money to move outside the US for care. Try Canada, Iceland, Japan and France, the next best.

    Some might prefer to die rather than use any "socialist" universal healthcare services.

    As a cancer survivor, I am grateful for government spending on cancer research, but I also know the reality of all the things that contribute to our increasing rates of cancer.

    We seem much less concerned in preventing cancer than curing it once we get it. That is dysfunctional thinking. This thinking plagues many health issues.

    Our current research needs to move more to genetic therapy, but I guess it will be seriously challenged now, and eventually only available to those who can afford it. Even when it is a good and preferred therapy, it will take ages for private insurance to cover it.

    Our politician's are purging our hopes. We are a nation falling from greatness, needlessly. We must have a universal healthcare system.

  16. Pat:

    It would take me a a month of Sundays to answer your questions. And the answer is: "It depends."

    I grew up in Newark, NJ in a Democratic union family. All public schools. With a triple major from Rutgers-Newark USING the GI BILL. For summer vacations, as a boy, I went to Philadelphia until I was old enough to work for the summers. The south side of Philadelphia. A tough neighborhood but great twisted pretzels.

    Owned and operated my own family business for many years on the border of Newark, Bloomfield, and Belleville. I sold it years ago but it's still there. A historic landmark.

    I am and have always been left of center. I was a Chief Steward for AFSCME. With a Fed career of 33 years mostly in Washington DC but spent time around the country on assignments for various reasons usually related to national security and budget issues.

    I don't fit any mold, political or otherwise, despite the affinity for liberals, NOT CONSERVATIVES, to put me in one.

    CarmineD

  17. Good for you, Carmine!

  18. "Good for you, Carmine!"

    Thank you peacelily.

    CarmineD

  19. @Carmine

    Who did you vote for?