War on cancer is long but winnable

The OlympianOctober 11, 2013 

Chiefs Titans Football

Pink ribbons for breast cancer awareness are given out before an NFL football game between the Tennessee Titans and the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

MARK HUMPHREY — AP

Why can’t we beat cancer? It won’t happen this month, just because we’re wearing pink to honor breast cancer awareness. But Americans continue to believe we will eventually find the cure that will spare us, or our loved ones, the trauma of a cancer journey.

We wear pink for breast cancer in October, blue for colon cancer in March, orange for leukemia in September and teal with white for cervical cancer in January. We display these colors to raise awareness and ultimately money, determined to one day cure this deadly disease.

According to the National Cancer Society, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer annually, and almost half that many succumb to the disease. We all know someone affected by cancer. In order to feel some measure of control over it, we donate to organizations that fund cancer research.

NCS spends $5.2 billion annually to find cures and improve treatments for the top 10 types of cancer. Susan G. Komen for the Cure spends $1.5 billion each year in research, outreach and services. Many more small and large organizations raise additional money.

The sheer enormity of the billions of dollars needed every year to fund cancer research programs can discourage us and cause donation fatigue. But we must not give up.

With adequate funding, we can keep improving cancer screening techniques that catch the disease early and widen the choice of effective treatment alternatives. For that reason, this month’s breast cancer awareness campaigns are focused on improved detection and treatment methods, rather than finding the definitive cure.

Thanks to focused research programs, chemotherapy and radiation technology remedies are less intrusive now and more advanced.

Our community’s state employees have recently launched their annual Combined Fund Drive that benefits more than 1,500 charities, including numerous cancer causes and nonprofits. These include the big-name cancer organizations as well as several local, lesser-known groups that provide emotional support, such as Harmony Hill in Union, Livestrong at the YMCA and the cancer support network at St. Peter Providence Hospital.

Cancer might not be curable today, but thanks to ongoing research, treatment options have improved significantly over the past several decades, prolonging the lives of South Sound cancer survivors and thrivers.

The Olympian is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service