Sunday, September 9, 2007

LiveStrong Wimps Out

First of all, let me say I admire Lance Armstrong. He's an amazing athlete, and an incredible spokesperson for the fight against cancer. Him and his little yellow bracelet have probably done more to raise cancer awareness than just about anything else.
As a person who's family has been decimated by cancer I believe strongly that we need to find a cure for this horrible disease. I've lost my father, my sister, a sister-in-law, a brother-in-law, and at lease one friend to the rampaging killer. And my mother is a 36-year survivor of cancer.
Having explained my support for Super Lance, I must admit I was less than taken with his recent cancer forum for presidential candidate hopefuls in Cedar Rapids. For those of you not lucky enough to be from Eastern Iowa, let me explain. Lance invited candidates from both parties to discuss cancer, research, goverment's involvement, etc. on Aug. 27 and 28, in Cedar Rapids. Iowa's first in the nation caucus position does get us a lot of candidate face time every four years.
Only four of the bazillion Democratic candidates participated, which is still more than the two lonely Republicans who showed up. Among the reasons cited for the mediocre response were timeliness (cancer is not currently grabbing headlines), and the crowded campaign schedule.
But everyone is missing the obvious reason: what's there to discuss?
The forum was billed as an opportunity for candidates to outline their "policies to address America's #1 Killer." Was anyone surprised that these candidates, looking to drum up support, all said "spend more money on research." If so, they should be taken out and beaten.
They are in the middle of a campaign, for God's sake. They have one two answers to just about any question right now: "spend more money" and "form an exploratory committee." Increase in the number of left handed pole vaulters with athlete's foot on their big toe? Increase federal funding for research and treatment.
There's a part of me that wonders how much good increased funding will do. I'm sure there's new equipment to buy or labs to build, but who's going to do the research? Are there a plethora of researchers out there just sitting around doing nothing? Or are we going to buy the researchers away from researching muscular dystrophy, muscular sclerosis, autism, heart disease, AIDS, or any of the less-well publicized but no less deadly diseases?
I didn't attend the forum or even watch it on TV, what with recuperating, vacationing and all. My rant is based only on what I heard reported on the radio and read in the paper. However, I doubt that I would have been able to watch more than, oh, 30 seconds of this drivel before I made myself watch reality TV as a very painful penance.
While I admire Lance's dedication to keeping the spotlight on cancer, I can't help but think that any money spent to organize and run this joke of a forum could have been better spent on (all together now) funding cancer research.

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