Calling it an important new offensive in the war against cancer, U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, former U.S. Representative and multiple myeloma survivor Geraldine Ferraro, and National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Andrew von Eschenbach announced an initiative to better inform the public about blood cancers and prepare physicians and patients to more effectively deal with the disease.
In 2002, President Bush signed into law the Hematological Cancer Research Investment and Education Act (S. 1094), authored by Sen. Hutchison, which established the Geraldine Ferraro Cancer Education Program to provide information to patients and the general public about blood cancers. Earlier this year, Congress appropriated $4.9 million to be used by the Centers for Disease Control for a variety of blood cancer education initiatives.
“Leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma are silent killers,” Sen. Hutchison said. “Every nine minutes they take another American life, but the resources spent to end the diseases are inadequate in comparison to other deadly illnesses. When I discovered that blood-related cancers account for 11 percent of all cancer deaths, yet only received five percent of NCI research funding, I knew we needed to address that disparity. In addition, research on blood cancers could also lead to treatment of other forms of cancer.
“As part of this education funding, it is my hope we can develop an interactive website to provide those afflicted with blood cancers and their doctors a new tool for medical information, resources and support,” the Senator added.
The announcement was met with tremendous support by the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF). Speaking on behalf of more than 100,000 members worldwide in more than 120 countries, IMF President Susie Novis said, “We are inspired by the courage of Geraldine Ferraro in raising the awareness of multiple myeloma and the leadership of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to secure the financial resources needed for the education of all people fighting cancer.” Ms. Novis added, “The important potential of the Ferraro program is also underscored by the support of One Voice Against Cancer (OVAC), a 50-plus member cancer funding coalition, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation.”
“We believe this program will foster the creation of new partnerships and models of outreach. This will empower all blood cancer patients providing them with increased knowledge,” stated Dr. Brian G.M. Durie, Chairman of the Board of the IMF.