New National Cancer Moonshot Initiative Should Prioritize Cancer Survivors
What do you think of when you hear the word moonshot? When President Obama recently announced The National Cancer Moonshot — and tapped Vice President Biden to lead it — he made a bold declaration: “For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the family we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”
It’s the kind of call to action that allows us to put partisan leanings aside — it’s an initiative we can all get behind.
Earlier this month, the LIVESTRONG Foundation met with representatives from the Vice President’s Office and others from the Administration. Our message was clear: put the patient at the center of the Cancer Moonshot effort.
The search for cures will always be important. Equally important is the patient perspective and improving the quality of life of 14.5 million U.S. cancer survivors. This is a crucial component of a comprehensive approach to fighting the disease. We know that even if treatment stops, the cancer journey does not.
This effort must foster collaborations among patients, doctors, researchers, philanthropies, patient advocates, and pharmaceutical/ biotechnology companies to advance cures and improve access to care. It must emphasize patient-centered approaches that deliver the right therapy to the right patient at the right time. It must also accelerate advancements in prevention and early detection.
The Vice President recently announced that Don Graves will be overseeing the Cancer Moonshot effort. A cancer survivor himself, Graves is likely to make important contributions to the initiative given his clear understanding of cancer’s numerous side effects — including emotional, physical, and financial stress.
According to the National Cancer Institute, at some point in their lives, nearly 40 percent of Americans will hear the words, “You have cancer.” And this year alone, nearly 1.7 million U.S. residents are expected to be diagnosed with the disease. That number is likely to rise as America’s vast Baby Boomer population ages.
The Cancer Moonshot effort should build on decades of work by LIVESTRONG and others, such as the 2007 initiative by Texas legislators and voters to create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas that put $3 billion toward new research and innovative efforts to help combat cancer. And the effort should also fortify current cancer-focused initiatives, such as our partnership with the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin to create the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes, which will reinvent and revolutionize the way patients and survivors are supported and cared for.
Our hope for the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes is to create a comprehensive model that puts survivors’ needs above all else, from the medical to the emotional to the practical. It is an effort like no other, and after its invention here in Austin, the ultimate goal is to replicate this patient-centered model elsewhere.
The Cancer Moonshot needs your energy and support! Everyone has a role to play in advancing the fight against cancer: advocate with policymakers, volunteer your time, and support breakthrough institutions like the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes that will foster a new approach to serving patients and survivors.
LIVESTRONG remains deeply committed to keeping cancer survivors at the heart of everything we do and, for the last 19 years, we have been helping people live with, get through, and get beyond a cancer diagnosis. We hope the Administration remains equally committed to making the National Cancer Moonshot a patient-centered initiative.
To engage with LIVESTRONG on policy reforms impacting cancer survivors, please visit: www.livestrong.org/policyaction.
About the author: Cameron Krier Massey, J.D., M.P.H. is the Director of Government Relations at the LIVESTRONG Foundation.