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Why Isn't Cancer Mentioned in This Year's Election?

19-year-old Jarrett Stein of Nashville has a letter in the 9/25/06 Tennessean:

"Being 19, I'll vote in my first national election this November. Candidates address many issues but as a cancer survivor, I must ask — why isn't cancer mentioned?

"Fifty million voices of survivors, family and caregivers need to be heard. I urge you to ask candidates, "What is your plan to eliminate suffering and death due to cancer?"

"Tennessee incumbents have great records regarding childhood cancer. Reps. Harold Ford and Zach Wamp have co-sponsored the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act while Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bill Frist, Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Jim Cooper, Lincoln Davis, John Duncan, Bart Gordon, William Jenkins, and John Tanner have supported research and funding efforts. However, what are their ongoing plans and what do their opponents propose?

"Fewer people are dying from cancer but more children are being diagnosed and survivors suffer physical, neurocognitive and emotional late effects. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute budget decreased.

"What message does this send to survivors, to researchers, to patients who don't have equal access to care, or to doctors who must tell patients there are no additional treatments to offer them? We need to make cancer a priority.

"In 1961, President John Kennedy announced the goal of a moon landing. Although space exploration was in its infancy, by 1969 the goal was accomplished. An NCI director has stated we have the potential to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer by 2015, but we need to speak with our voices and our votes.

"Can you imagine a world without cancer? Please say that you can."