Cancer Research Funding, Health Care Top Priorities
Madison–Dozens of cancer patients, survivors and their families gathered on the steps of the state capitol, Wednesday, for the official kickoff to their Cancer Votes campaign. The campaign is part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) efforts to put cancer issues front and center this election season. Those issues include cancer research funding and access to quality health care.
“Most people don’t recognize the tremendous impact their elected officials have on the fight against cancer, “said Kathi Hansen, a Cancer Votes volunteer and long-time breast cancer survivor from Green Bay. “Many important decisions from diagnosis to end of life care are made not just in the doctor’s office, but also in Congress.”
Each day 87 people in Wisconsin are diagnosed with cancer. In order to fully illustrate the magnitude of that number, volunteers at the kickoff stood amidst 87 life-size silhouettes of men women and children and wore t-shirts emblazoned with the number 87.
“All of these silhouettes are reminders that today someone’s mom or dad, sister or brother, grandparent or other loved one will be diagnosed. What’s more, the 1 of 87 today could be you,” said Hansen.
The federal government is the largest source of cancer research funding. Yet when adjusted for inflation, federal funding for such research has actually declined nearly 20 percent over the last decade. Meanwhile, cancer incidence is projected to double in less than ten years.
“What if your life-saving treatment is left sitting in a lab because of a short-sighted funding cut? Or what if your treatment is already out there but you can’t afford it because you’re uninsured? These are important issues candidates and the public should be thinking about,” said Hansen.
In hopes of raising awareness, Cancer Votes volunteers will take their message, their questions and their t-shirts on the road at candidate forums, fairs, community events, call-in radio shows and through a new website, www.cancervotes.org.
They also asked candidates to participate in their “Candidate Cancer Challenge,” which includes:
Meeting with cancer votes volunteers to discuss cancer issues
Sharing their 1 in 87 cancer story
Completing the Cancer Votes voter guide
Scheduling a time to meet with cancer researchers and learn first-hand the importance of cancer research to the people and economy of Wisconsin
“Considering almost half of all Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, this is a ‘special interest group’ in which almost everyone is a member. We need people to speak up, get involved and be heard,” said Hansen.
Volunteers are also circulating an online petition aimed at showing the candidates that people care about cancer in this election. Volunteers are hoping to collect 2,012 signatures within the first 87 hours and many more beyond that.
More information about the Wisconsin Cancer Votes campaign and the issues can be found at www.cancervotes.org.
Cancer Votes is a non-partisan electoral program and will not oppose or support any candidate.
31,920 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Wisconsin in 2012
11,240 people will die of cancer in 2012
CANCER RESEARCH FACTS:
For years the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been underfunded or cut, not keeping pace with the cost of medical inflation. This has resulted in in an inflation-adjusted funding decline of 20 percent in the last 10 years.
The NIH is slated for an 8 percent reduction as part of the budget deal worked out last summer by Congress
This kind of reduction puts future progress and current research at risk
Wisconsin received more than $389 million from the NIH in 2010, including $51 million from the National Cancer Institute in support of medical research across the state
HEALTH INSURANCE FACTS:
Scientific research has shown a cancer patient’s insurance status impacts their chances for survival
1 in 4 non-elderly people in Wisconsin spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care costs, threatening their financial well-being. This number has increased 57 percent between 2000 and 2008
Almost half of uninsured women in Wisconsin between age 40 and 64 did not have a mammogram in the past two years compared to 1 in 4 of those with insurance.
Nationwide 1 in 5 cancer patients with insurance report using all or most of their live savings fighting the disease