Written by: Natalie Simpson, @byuiscroll
As part of his 2017 budget, President Obama intends to ask Congress for $755 million to fund cancer research in support of Vice President Joe Biden’s strategic “Moonshot” effort to cure cancer.
“Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer,” Obama said in his 2016 State of the Union Address.
Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they’ve had in over a decade.
“I think they can cure cancer,” said Nathalie Tate, a senior studying childhood development. “I think that they’ve had the ideas and the concept to actually cure cancer for a long time, but they just didn’t have the funding to do it.”
Tate’s father was diagnosed three years ago with Myeloproliferative neoplasms, or blood cancer.
If the bill is passed, it will bring total cancer funding to nearly $1 billion over the next two years. Congress has approved $195 million for 2016 in cancer research funding, according to NPR.
The proposed bill will not only increase funding but limit barriers in research in order to achieve the goal of doubling current progress, according to the Cancer Foundation.
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Brother Ross Baron, a faculty member in the religious education department, was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2003.
“The hardest part of treatment was chemotherapy,” Baron said. “My chemo would be every other week for six months for like seven hours.”
Baron underwent surgery proceeding his chemotherapy treatment and then radiation after chemo. Surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are the three most common cancer treatments, according to the American Cancer Society.
“I would go in for chemotherapy, and I’d come out a different color,” Baron said. “They always talked about how one day they would find chemo that would go into your body, and it would find cancer cells and just kill cancer cells. Then the side effects would be dramatically less cause it wouldn’t be killing you.”
Baron hoped that this type of research could be possible.
“That would be awesome because those poor people going through chemo — that’s a brutal deal,” Baron said.
The American Cancer Society believes if Obama can secure the proposed funding, they would be able to cure cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
“My perspective of cancer changed when he was diagnosed because it became a very real thing for me,” said Emily Hanks, a junior at BYU studying exercise and wellness, whose brother was diagnosed with sacromatoid yolk sac cancer three years ago. “I began to realize how terrible it really is because you see ones you love go through so much. It impacted me because I realized how strong people are — emotionally and mentally.”
The money from the proposal invested within the Department of Health and Human Services will fund the latest research opportunities including prevention and cancer vaccine development and early cancer detection.
“So tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done… For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all,” according Obama in his State of the Union Address.
“I’ve always been that person that when any of my family members need me, I fly out there, and I take care of them, but my dad didn’t want me to see him like that,” Tate said. “It hurt a lot because he was like, ‘I don’t want you here. Don’t worry about it. Focus on school,’ and that’s really hard when your dad is dying in a bed.”
If Obama’s additional funding is approved by Congress, it will represent nearly a 15 percent increase in government funding to fight cancer, according to NPR.
“Cancer is a leading cause of death, and cancer incidence is expected to increase worldwide in the coming decades,” according to the White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force Memorandum. “But today, cancer research is on the cusp of major breakthroughs. It is of critical national importance that we accelerate progress towards prevention, treatment, and a cure — to double the rate of progress in the fight against cancer — and put ourselves on a path to achieve in just five years research and treatment gains that otherwise might take a decade or more.”
As part of Biden’s plans, a “White House Cancer Moonshot Task Force” has been established. Members include the vice president and the heads of the Department of Defense; the Department of Commerce; the Department of Health and Human Services; the Department of Energy; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Office of Management and Budget; the National Economic Council; the Domestic Policy Council; the Office of Science and Technology Policy; the Food and Drug Administration; the National Cancer Institute; the National Institutes of Health; and the National Science Foundation, according to the White House.
“The National Cancer Moonshot requires a whole-of-government approach, marshaling resources form across the Federal government to address this singular goal,” according to the white house.