When I was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. I felt so alone. As the prospect of death stared me in the face with two young children who needed me, I wondered if there was anything I could do, or if there was anything I had done to deserve the diagnosis.
In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease. Suddenly, I became one in an already too high statistic of people in the world inflicted with cancer.
It hasn’t been easy. After three surgeries, chemotherapy, and countless ultrasounds and blood tests, my prognosis is hopeful. But whenever I hear that someone is suffering the brutal fight against cancer, as I have, there is a certain tug at my heart strings. I know the reality that some of us survive and some of us don’t.
When Vice President Joe Biden stood on stage at the Social Good Summit to announce his Cancer Moonshot initiative, which aims to eradicate cancer by 2030, I felt that tug once again; this time it was a hopeful one.
Watch the Vice President’s full address at the Social Good Summit.
The Cancer Moonshot Initiative
When Biden said, “What I’d like to talk to you about is my hope that by the year 2030, we’ll live in a world where cancer is ended as we know it. That’s not a pipe dream,” I felt that he meant it. He emphasized unprecedented scientific and technological breakthroughs that can change the fight against cancer.
Biden knows from experience. His son, Beau, passed away last year after a long battle against brain cancer. “There’s nothing more helpless as a parent than looking at your child, no matter what their age, knowing there’s not much you can do to help.”
When President Obama asked him to oversee the cancer initiative nine months ago, it became instantly obvious that Biden’s passion for this initiative was not temporary. It’s clear that once he leaves office, it will become his lifelong work.
With Moonshot, Biden hopes to find new treatments that lead to cures for the disease. Using advanced technology, research, data and record sharing, new therapies, vaccines, and increased funding he is hopeful to save people. “We have new therapies that boost your immune system instead of harming it like traditional treatments,” Biden said. These treatments have completely changed the way cancer treatment is thought of.
He also called out the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine, which prevents many types of cervical cancer. In Africa, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer after breast cancer. It’s not a sexual disease, it’s a virus. The perception must be changed so that parents take charge. Biden said, “Part of this is breaking through cultural barriers, but right now every little boy and girl in America can get that (HPV) vaccine when they get the measles vaccine.”
“We’re going to increase funding dramatically for cancer,” Biden continued. The U.S. will work with institutions around the world to open a discussion about better prevention, screenings, treatment and research collaborations to stop cancer from returning. Moonshot’s efforts are aimed at making better use of the patient data and computing power that is available to researchers. Secretary of State John Kerry will also work with nations to strengthen the Cancer Moonshot initiative. In addition, regional hubs funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) will be established around the world, focusing on cancers that are locally significant problems.
With this kind of commitment, it makes people like me who still live in fear of a reoccurrence of the disease feel more optimistic.
Take Action Challenge:
- Watch Biden’s speaking engagement at the Social Good Summit to get all the facts.
- Get educated. Read about cancer. Be vocal about stopping it, use hashtag #2030NOW.
- Join the American Cancer Society and help fight against the disease.