We are international

What is One Voice Against Cancer?
By Greg Brozeit

Hamilton Crowne Plaza Hotel Washington, DC
April 7, 2003

Good morning. My name is Greg Brozeit and I represent the International Myeloma Foundation. Multiple myeloma is an incurable cancer of the bone marrow that represents one percent of cancer incidence and two percent of cancer mortality in the United States.

I am here to briefly discuss what One Voice Against Cancer is and why it matters that we are gathered here today.

One Voice Against Cancer is a coalition of more than 45 voluntary health and advocacy organizations focused on one thing: the appropriations process to fund cancer research and application programs.

One Voice is the only broad-based coalition that focuses only on appropriations for cancer research.

Our message is simple:

The federal government must commit more resources to defeating cancer—and that means funding both research and the application of that research.

And our message is targeted.

It is vital to remember that Congress does not fund research by disease category. It doesn't, for example, direct the National Institutes of Health or the National Cancer Institute to fund specific disease categories, such as breast cancer or multiple myeloma or pancreatic cancer or Parkinson's or Alzheimer's diseases, for that matter.

Congress only funds the research institutes and then directs them to make their decisions based on scientific opportunity.

One Voice is an inclusive coalition that invites everyone who cares about cancer research to join.

If you believe that cancer research is vital, then you should be interested in One Voice.

That doesn't mean that other issues of interest to the specific cancer constituencies gathered in this room today are unimportant.

Many of you are also interested in Medicare funding for oral drugs, or access to medical care issues. Those are very important to our community.

But here we just focus on funding for cancer research and application. Because the appropriations process is the only avenue we have to increase that funding.

Why do we need more funding?

Why do we need to educate policy makers about the burden of cancer?

Why do we need greater commitment?

Because this year more than 1.3 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer.

Because more than 560,000 Americans will die of cancer this year.

We lose more people to cancer every five weeks than American soldiers that died in the entire Vietnam War.

If we wanted to make a Vietnam War style memorial naming all the persons who have died of cancer, we would not have enough space or marble to keep up with task of building it.

We believe that more money must be invested in cancer research, especially to take advantage of the revolution that will result from the knowledge we are gaining about gene- and protein- targeted drug development.

Let me give you some numbers to put this into perspective.

This year, the annual budget for the National Cancer Institute will be $4.6 billion.

Last year, the largest non governmental funder of cancer research in the world, the American Cancer Society, spent $130 million on research.

Over its 19 year history, one of our most visible members, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, has raised more than $250 million for research.

When we talk about the NCI budget, we are talking about annual billions, not cumulative millions.

That's why focusing on the appropriations process is so important.

We are not only the world's only military superpower, we are also the world's only cancer research superpower. And we have to fund that process if we are to remain so.

Last year, in just the third year of the One Voice coalition, we received a great deal of credit for ensuring the five-year doubling of the NIH budget.

This year, more policy makers understand that we mean business. And more importantly, they know that we are unified around an inclusive message of big picture funding priorities.

We have not let ourselves become Balkanized into wanting funding for "our" cancers. We know that we must all work together to better fight all cancers.

While we are here in our nation's capital, we should remember that we have a grand, historic purpose to help realize the promise of our democracy for all of our citizens.

As the noted historian Gordon Wood wrote in his short book on the American Revolution:

"...the changes [brought on by the American Revolution] were remarkable, and they gave the American people as grand a vision of their future as any people have ever had. Americans saw their new nation not only leading a world revolution on behalf of republicanism and liberty but also becoming the place where the best of all the arts and sciences would flourish."

That is why we are here.

Fulfilling the promise of cancer research is a part of the natural historical progression of the United States to realize the grand vision of our democratic republic.

Fulfilling the promise of cancer research means that we can end suffering and death due to cancer in the foreseeable future.

But we can only do so if the congressional appropriations process funds the scientific opportunity that is realistically achievable.

And there is so much that is available to end the suffering and death due to cancer.

That is why your voices make One Voice the important and effective coalition it has become today.

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