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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Battle for cancer cure must be won

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I doubt there is a reader of this column whose life has not been touched by cancer. This insidious disease has baffled the medical community for decades and it remains deadly to this day. Granted, there have been substantial improvements in our diagnosis and care for cancer but yet, despite years of research, that magical cure remains illusive.

As I read the headlines this morning, presidential spokesman Tony Snow received some devastating news that his cancer has now invaded his liver. Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential hopeful John Edwards, is battling a return of cancer that struck a few years back. But these are just two very public figures. We all know that similar battles are waged and all-too-often lost thousands of times daily in this country.

I can't argue that more money in the fight against cancer is the answer. But I do know that additional money for research is a key ingredient in this worldwide fight. More brilliant minds attacking the issue of cancer will surely bring drastic results in a shorter period of time.

Here's what I don't understand. If this great nation of ours can find $500 billion or more to fight an unpopular but perhaps essential war in Iraq, can we not find an equal amount someday to find a cure for cancer? I know it is not that simple. I don't pretend that throwing money alone will bring successful results.

But if you want to put a value on life, then the numbers who die from cancer each year far surpasses the number killed in Iraq. I recognize that the comparison is poor. But it illustrates the flaw in how we allocate our precious resources.

The headlines every day scream about the need for more finances to support our efforts in the Mideast. But the obituary pages scream equally as loud about the need for a national push to seek that cure for cancer. It's clear which voice is heard the loudest by our elected officials.

The President today asked for prayers on behalf of his spokesman Tony Snow. And that is most appropriate. Yet we would hope this cancer wake-up call would also result in a national effort like none other in our history.

It would be fascinating to know just how much has been spent on our "War on Drugs" compared to the amount spent on a cancer cure.

The history of this great nation is filled with examples of foolish spending. And I strongly suspect we citizens will never know the full extent of this waste of resources.

A cancer cure may be decades away or even beyond. But this much I know - until our elected officials put money into the equation, that magical date will not grow closer. It will undoubtedly be too late for Elizabeth Edwards and Tony Snow. But there are millions of lives still at stake while the money is siphoned by wasted programs to gain political ground.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen