Wherever you are in this tough journey that is cancer, I hope you can take some time out to watch fireworks or listen to bands or eat a hot dog and just have fun.
July is a special month of celebration for me, and it is even more so this year. Twenty-five years ago I was first diagnosed with colon cancer. Those were the days of surgery and not much else. 5FU could add some time, but mostly we had to depend on the surgeon’s skill and hope the tumor hadn’t spread too far.
Last year on the Fourth, I had just left the hospital with another colon cancer diagnosis. Again, I needed good doctors and nurses, and I had them. This time there were many more and much better treatments available. We’d come a long way in those twenty-five years.
Twenty five years, one big year, and cancer-free! Independence indeed!
June was a travel-crazy month for me. I was in Chicago for the huge ASCO meeting with 30,000 people all working on an end to cancer. I was at meetings of RTOG and NSABP, two cancer cooperative groups that plan and carry out research to reduce suffering and death from cancer. Finally, I spent several days in Washington with caBIG, an effort to provide the computer technology to tie all this research seamlessly together so scientists can share data and images and ideas.
NSABP — National Surgical Breast and Bowel Project — was celebrating too. This is their fiftieth anniversary. RTOG — Radiation Therapy Oncology Group — wasn’t far behind. They’ve been fighting cancer with research for forty years.
caBIG — the Cancer Bioinformatics Grid — is much younger, but represents the huge advantage technology has given us in this battle for independence from cancer.
I’m grateful today to the research, to the doctors and nurses and technicians, and to the patient advocates who have given me my life and the strength to be part of this huge research enterprise.
It is work for all of us full of life and energy and courage. Which is what I wish for each of you this Fourth of July.
Finally, I want to thank the very brave men and women serving in our armed forces this Independence Day. Thank you for your service. Be safe.