Monday, March 27, 2006

Mr. Clanton Goes to Washington, Part Tres

(Washington, D.C.)

Kids say the darndest things.
That was the premise of the Art Linkletter’s popular House Party show on CBS from 1952 to 1969. Bill Cosby later picked up the theme by co-hosting a show with Linkletter called Kids Say the Darndest Things. Kids are pretty perceptive, too, and not inhibited like we grown ups can sometimes be. They’ll just blurt things out, right or wrong, and there’s the truth, splayed right there on the ground in front of you, for the entire world to hear and see.

Like 5-year old Jennifer Reckers, a leukemia survivor in Mason, Ohio, who’s artwork was on display with drawings and paintings from hundreds of leukemia patients tonight at the Cochran Art Gallery.

Jennifer had Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), and the doctors caring for her beat the disease. Now she has a fear that she will “fall through the cracks” in the American healthcare system.
How perceptive for a 5-year old.
How sad she perceives such a horrible truth at such a tender age.

I am in Washington to lend my support for children like Jennifer for legislation that would keep kids and adults from falling through the cracks. It’s called the Cancer Survivorship Bill, which would address the problems of access to care, systems of care, insurance issues, and research. Isn’t it interesting that the progress made in surviving cancer have created a whole other set of challenges: secondary cancers, cognitive issues, and psychosocial problems. Used to, these people just died. End of story.

The Leukemia-Lymphoma Society volunteers and staff are assaulting the hill—Capitol Hill—tomorrow to encourage congress to make an investment with incalculable returns. There’s a lot at stake.

President Bush wants to cut cancer research funding in his proposed budget for Fiscal 2007. This would mark the first time in ten years dollars earmarked for biomedical research would be less than in previous budgets, a one-eighty on the Administration’s stated goal for the past three years to eliminate suffering and death from cancer by 2015.

It is sadly ironic that Mr. Bush lost a sister to Leukemia when she was a very young child. A lot like 2-year old Jacob Erb, from Royal Palm Beach, Florida, who’s art also was on display tonight.

Cancer deaths dropped in for the first time in 70-years in 2003, which was the final year in a push to double the funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI) within five years. There is a correlation between funding research and survival rates. Why would we kill the momentum we’ve built?

To meet the needs of NCI research currently being funded would require an additional $1.09-billion for fiscal ’07. Just to keep up with inflation would require an additional $177-million.
For Fiscal ’06, Mr. Bush requested a $49-million increase in funding.
For ’07, the figure is a negative $39-million.

Money makes the world go round.
It also saves lives.
The additional investment of $240-million that’s being advocated by me and my brethren and sistren this week is needful in order to fund the research and amazing work being carried out on behalf of all cancer sufferers. Doctors now believe that we are closest to unlocking the keys to cancer through hematological studies. Blood cancers hold the secret to beating the other varieties of cancer in bone and soft tissue.

We are so close.
When you’re this close, you can taste it.
You can smell it—like the cherry blossoms in Spring, about to burst open with fragrance and color. Perhaps it is fitting that we assault this important hill during cherry blossom time in Washington.

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