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To Defeat Cancer - We Must Stand Together
 Tim Giardina

Cancer is a killer. Walk into any public place anywhere and ask for a show of hands regarding people who know someone with cancer and 85% of the hands will spring into the air followed by stories of battles won and lost of bravery and fear all fought on a global battlefield yet fought hand to hand, one on one and more times then not, to the death. For those who fight and survive, your path is altered in someway, you will never be the exact same person you once were, life's lessons can be harsh at times.

I read an article in the New York Times written by Dr. James Watson, founder of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Nobel Prize recipient and brilliant sometimes-controversial thinker of thoughts. I have nothing short of respect and admiration for him in regards to what he has given to the world over the course of his career. His call to battle was picked up by Dr. Antonio Giordano from the Sbarro Health Research Organization who also called for the "second war on cancer" to begin. At the University of Wisconsin, there is a highly dedicated group of volunteers working tirelessly to staff a research facility with scientists and researchers. I'm sure all over the country the same thing is playing out, research facilities awaiting funding to continue an on going war.

I am not an award-winning scientist nor am I a Nobel Prize winner. I don't know how to split a cell. The genes that I work with are Levi. I will not be the one who develops the cure, that is not my role. I am a current small cell Lung Cancer survivor. I say current, because things can change. As a small cell lung cancer patient, to survive to the five-year mark is a feat that not many can accomplish. Lung cancer is cancer's leading assassin and will continue to kill more people each year then breast cancer, colon and prostate cancer combined.

What I offer you now is the patient's perspective of the war on cancer. First of all let me state that my knowledge is strictly with lung cancer and the treatments that I underwent. As a patient although there seem to be universal methods of treatment depending upon the type and severity of cancer you have, every individual will react differently to that treatment. We are dependent upon a Doctors opinion and experience to provide us with the best option for treatment; we are dependent on a scientist or researcher to provide the doctor with the best options available for them to treat us with. It's then up to us to stand, fight and survive. The treatment that I received consisted of radiation twice a day mixed with chemotherapy followed up with preventative radiation to the brain to kill any cells that might have migrated like geese. These treatments helped to save or at the very least prolong my life and I am grateful for that. But they're harsh and un-relenting and the thing that will eventually help save you can almost kill you. We need to continue pursuing methods that will someday enable us to defend ourselves in advance as opposed to fighting it out toe to toe with cancer like prizefighters in the ring.

The American Cancer Society suggests that there will be 1,479,350 new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2009. Sticking to what I know, 219,440 of those cases will be lung related roughly 14.5%. Of those 219,440 cases there is an expected mortality rate of 72.5%. 159,390 friends, family members, mom's, dad's and yes children will lose a quick vicious fight with lung cancer. The family members, Moms, dads and children left behind to morn and wonder what if things would have been different?

When we talk about killing cancer it must be a group effort. Collectively as a culture we must continue to grow and develop new talent in the research fields. We must ensure that new ideas are free flowing from our leading minds. We have to be on the front side of the development of new technology. We have to obtain funding through all means possible. Corporate America the Federal Government should be stepping up to provide money and resources on a much larger scale. Research from the private sectors should be geared at public benefit and not private gain where cancer is concerned.

And what are you and I going to do to help defend our families and ourselves? If it were a man with a gun pointed at your daughter what lengths would you go to deliver her from harms way? Cancer is just that, it is a loaded gun pointed at every member of your family as if it were a cosmic game of Russian roulette. Cancer attacks and kills without reason, without remorse. Cancer does not discriminate it doesn't make excuses for it's behavior. Cancer knows no social bounds, rich or poor, all are vulnerable.

I contend that it is our responsibility as a society to help provide for cancer research and development above the normal taxes we pay. That maybe once a month we could fore go the extra cheeseburger, the bottle of water, the new ring tone download take that.00 and send it in to a scientist who may be the one that turns around and saves your life with their research. So here's the math.00 per month times 12 months = per year per person times the current U.S. population between the age of 18 and 65 or 144,950,554 people. We'll give 9.8% of those people a break for unemployment leaving a pool of 130,745,400 that could generate, 844,724,000. Far fetched? Yes and no. Yes because that's not the way we work, we like our extra cheeseburger and our bottled water and all that other stuff. But just imagine the impact we could have as a Nation if we could all give up a little something of non importance and trade it in to insure a better, healthier life for the next generation. What if the thing that we watched kill our Fathers was banished from our existence due to our efforts?

November is lung cancer awareness month. I'm asking you to begin now if you haven't already. Fill a floor at the University of Wisconsin, sponsor a scientist at Temple University or help finance research at any one of the great institutions across the country that are working under funded in an effort to make our lives better.

To kill cancer, we must stand together.