By U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN)
The hard cold fact is that 433 Americans die every day from lung cancer – the most deadly of all the cancers.
Since our youngest daughter Katherine was diagnosed with Stage 4 non-small cell lung cancer more than 3 years ago, she and I have joined forces to advocate for more funding for lifesaving research to better diagnose, treat and ultimately cure this terrible disease – and in particular, to discover why so many young women who don’t smoke get lung cancer every year.
That’s why I have introduced legislation to fund additional research to find out why so many young women who have never smoked are getting non-small cell lung cancer every year.
That’s also why I became a founding member of our Congressional Lung Cancer Caucus – to build awareness and support for putting lung cancer research on par with research into other major cancers and other deadly diseases.
To put the funding issue in some perspective, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost our Nation $7 TRILLION dollars. The budget for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health this year is just under $6 billion, with about $282 million targeted specifically toward lung cancer.
Last year, I was able to pass two bipartisan amendments boosting lung cancer research by $5.8 million. That’s a lot of money – but it’s also just a tiny fraction of what’s being spent on endless wars of choice and weapons of terrible destruction. Clearly, it is time to reorder our national priorities.
There’s an old saying to the effect that “you’ll never convince the politicians to make a change until you convince the people.” With that in mind, I continually call on lung cancer advocates from across the country to engage with their local, state, and federal officials every chance they get – to declare once and for all that it’s time to find the ultimate treatments and cures for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, leukemia, AIDS, ALS, chronic pain and so many other dreadful conditions that rob humankind of so much joy, progress and potential.
In his inaugural address, President Kennedy reminded us that God’s work on earth must truly be our own. That’s what this battle against lung cancer is all about, and we’re going to keep fighting until we win it.