September 11

Today is the fifth anniversary of when Al Qaeda terrorists attacked the United States on our own soil.

There are plenty of patriotic, chest beating salutes to the people who died that day and those that have died (and continue to die) in the wars brought as a result of that day. This won’t be one of them.

Don’t let anything I say here diminish the lives of the innocent people who died five years ago or those who die fighting for what they believe. Every human being is sacred and my heart aches for the survivors of those who have died. Their deaths were premature and unnecessary.

It’s just that my life right now is consumed with cancer. It’s nothing that I chose to have happen to me, but I’m stuck in the middle.

This is a blog about my life with cancer.

On Sept. 11, 2001, there were 2,973 people killed in the attacks.

Since then, Congress has appropriated a total of $437 billion (with a B) for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, for the worldwide war on terror and for homeland security, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Between Sept. 9, 2006, and Sept. 11, 2006, an estimated 3,094 people in the United States have died from cancer. Between Sept. 11, 2006, and Sept. 13, 2006, another 3,094 people in the U.S. will die from cancer. Between Sept. 13, 2006, and Sept. 15, 2006, another 3,094 people in the U.S. will die from cancer. In 2006, an estimated 564,830 people in the U.S. will die from cancer. 1,547 will die day after day from cancer. And it will happen the year after that and the year after that.

According to the most recent issue of the Cure magazine, a publication of Livestrong foundation, Lance Armstrong said, “From the time Nixon declared the war on cancer in 1971, if you add up all the money the federal government has spent from that point until today – 35 years’ worth – it adds up to basically seven months in Iraq.”

The article also describes the funding proposed for the National Cancer Institute, the U.S. government’s answer to the war on cancer. The $2.77 trillion U.S. budget proposed by President George W. Bush “included more than $28 billion for the National Institutes of Health, the same it received the previous year. After adjusting for medical inflation, the NIH would actually receive about $1 billion less than the prior year. And, of cuts to 18 or 19 institutes under the NIH, the largest cut is to the National Cancer Institute – a $39.7 million DECREASE from 2006 funding and $74 million LESS than 2005.” {emphasis mine}

If you visit the NCI’s “about” page, you’ll see them giving themselves a slight pat on the back for the decrease in cancer deaths in 2003. It was the first time a decrease in deaths happened since 1930, which is the first year statistics were compiled. The decline? 369 fewer people died in 2003 versus 2002.

Of the adults diagnosed with cancer today, 36 percent will be dead in five years (from cancer, not from being hit by a bus).

However, what the page fails to mention is that in some populations with some types of cancer, death rates continue to grow. And what continues to climb since 1930, with little slowing, is the INCIDENCE rate of most types of cancer. Cancer used to be considered a disease of age. However, there is a greater incidence of cancer in children age 14 and younger now than there was 25 years ago. That number continues to grow.

While slowing the death rate (and, perhaps, reversing it) is important, we can’t ignore at what cost this is coming. The best treatment for cancer is still the same as it has been for hundreds of years: take it out. With every form of cancer that manifests itself as a tumor, that’s still the first course of action and still shows the greatest “return on the investment,” so to speak.

“Taking it out,” of course, can be debilitating or disfiguring, and often is. Then, there are the other treatments, which can also be debilitating and leave the person with life-long side effects, including death from infection and the risk of developing more cancer.

Of course, the point is: we have a long way to go and we are screwing around getting there.

How is it that one day when 2,973 people died has overtaken the thoughts, emotions and pocketbooks of our entire country? Yet, more people than that will die from cancer in the next 48 hours. When have you ever seen all of the news networks, morning shows, newspaper front pages and online news sites overrun with information about cancer, interviews with survivors, intensive analysis of the spending toward cancer research, interviews with critics or supporters of a memorial to those who have died from cancer, and complete and total saturation of the media of all aspects of this ugly disease?

How soon could we find a cure for cancer or uncover the causes (and therefore develop a true plan for prevention) if we had $437 billion to spend on cancer research in the next five years?

Resources
Here are some sites I used in researching this post or sites that may be of interest to you.

* The Cure (get a free subscription if you are a caregiver or survivor)
* Write to your government representatives
* The Livestrong Foundation
* Cost of War
* Congressional Research Service
* Congressional Research Service’s cost of war report for Congress
* National Institutes of Health
* National Cancer Institute
* The American Cancer Society

Author: rosie

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5 Comments

  1. Wow. . . thanks for putting a different spin on this day. As I read your entry, I was struck by the huge increase of the incidence of cancer among younger and younger people. Perhaps some of that $437 billion could be used toward prevention. What’s happening in our environment that is causing so many to get cancer? Pollution? Contamination of food & water supplies? Ozone depletion? Perhaps lessening our world’s dependence on oil would alleviate many problems–we all wouldn’t be so dependent on the Middle East perhaps decreasing the liklihood of future terrorist attacks. Better, more fuel efficient or alternate-fuel using vehicles would decrease air pollution, etc. etc. . . My, but I am getting a little windy, but you struck a chord here. If I want to keep this up, I’ll have to get my own blog! Thanks for everything you do on yours.

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  2. Rosie . . . thanks. I have a very hard time with this day. Not because I knew anyone personally effected but because I was on my way to raidation. I hopped up on the table and told the techs that a plane flew into one of the towers but it was no big deal. Just a few minutes later we learned it was kind of a big deal but it still didn’t matter as much as my left breast. And to this day I feel guilty about this day because I feel I should care more but all I can think of is me and my boob.

    molly

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  3. Awesome post with great statistics, Rosie. As always, I’m wishing you strength, great peace and great hope.

    Monday I head to Washington to take part in the Celebration on the Hill. Our message will be strong. You’ll be with us in spirit! :)

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  4. Please tell me that this entry is being sent to the editor for a story of somekind in some big newspaper or magazine somewhere!!

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