Mary Bowers: Sen. Reid, it’s time to make cancer history | NevadaAppeal.com

Mary Bowers: Sen. Reid, it’s time to make cancer history

Mary Bowers

Each year, nearly 14,400 Nevadans hear the devastating words "you have cancer" and in 2011, I was one of them.

As a chronic lymphoid leukemia patient, my life depends on cutting-edge research to develop new therapies and treatment protocols. Like many other cancer patients — and survivors — I'm grateful for this research and the hope it offers me to beat cancer and thrive.

Thanks to effective research, more than 15 million cancer survivors are alive in the United States today. We're saving more lives from cancer than ever before — and scientists are on the verge of ground breaking discoveries that were once inconceivable. The future of cancer treatment is bright, and it's critical we keep this momentum going.

Congress can accelerate innovation by significantly increasing federal investments in cancer research before the end of the year. Cancer patients, survivors and volunteers across Nevada urge Senator Harry Reid to lead bipartisan efforts to pass the 21st Century Cures Act. This would fund the president's Cancer Moonshot with a $680 million increase to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The NCI and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are the foundation of our national cancer research program and support research in every state. Because of this program, scientists are improving cancer prevention, early detection, treatment and care. However, federal funding for medical research has significantly declined in the past decade when accounting for inflation, making it much harder for cancer researchers to receive funding today than it was a decade ago. Time is running out to continue this progress.

While cancer will claim the lives of 5,000 Nevadans this year alone, advancements in research have made it possible for others like me to fight back. This year, an estimated 1.7 million people in America will also be counting on the hope of medical research to keep them alive when they're newly diagnosed with cancer. Scientists at the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine are paving the way for ground breaking discoveries in the fight against cancer. Advances in genetics allow us to increasingly offer personalized medicine — giving patients the drugs that will work to eradicate cancer and avoiding the ones that will be ineffective or harmful. On Friday the public learned more about personalized medicine and its role in Nevada's cancer fight at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network's free personalized medicine forum in Las Vegas. Learn more at: http://www.acscan.org/nv.

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Who knows what the future of cancer research will hold. That's why it's essential to sustain a pipeline of federal funding that's directed back into our communities. Institutions like UNR depend on these funds to continue their lifesaving work — and Nevadans count on this research to save their lives.

Congress must act quickly to pass the 21st Century Cures Act and fund the Cancer Moonshot. It's time to make cancer history and deliver hope to millions of Americans and their loved ones before the year is over.

Mary Bowers is an American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteer in Carson City. She is a chronic lymphoid leukemia patient. ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society that works on policies and legislative solutions to fight cancer at the local, state and federal level.

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