Time to invest in the Cancer Moonshot to save lives

Eunice Hostetter is a cancer survivor and the Washington State Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. She lives in Kirkland.

This year, roughly 38,000 Washingtonians will hear the words, “you have cancer” and nearly 13,000 will die from it.  I was diagnosed with breast cancer 13 years ago, and thanks partly to early diagnosis and research innovations, I’m grateful be one of the 15.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today. Unfortunately, too many Washingtonians continue to lose their life to this disease.

As Washington’s State Lead Ambassador for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, I recently participated in a regional cancer Moonshot summit with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Summit with Vice President Joe Biden. Top Washington cancer researchers discussed the work being done here at home to cure cancer and the group discussed how we can unite as a cancer community and a country to defeat this disease.

Researchers from Fred Hutch, UW Medicine, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Seattle Children’s Hospital are making great strides in immunotherapy, genomics and precision medicine. This innovation requires continued investment. At the end of 2015, Congress approved the most significant increase in cancer funding in nearly two decades—but federal funding for research remains well below where it needs to be to keep up with medical inflation.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded funding for just 18 percent of research grants in 2014, close to the lowest level in its history. And the National Cancer Institute funded only 14 percent of grants in 2014. It’s significantly more difficult for cancer researchers to receive funding today than it was a decade ago, and many promising ideas are unfunded.

These research innovations not only save lives, but they also fuel the local economy. In 2015, the NIH awarded more than $885 million in grants and contracts in Washington. These funds supported roughly 12,300 jobs and generated $2.14 billion in economic activity for our state.

Talk of a Moonshot raises hope that we can rally a full-scale commitment to end this disease. The research is out there and major institutions are working together to break down barriers and deliver new, better treatments.

Cancer cannot be eradicated in the labs alone. In order to conquer cancer, Congress must finish its commitment to a $1 billion increase for cancer research and fund the Moonshot.

Join the Cancer Moonshot by telling Washington’s members of Congress that cancer research should be funded as a national priority. Visit www.whitehouse.gov/cancermoonshot.