In the past 20 years we’ve seen enormous progress in research and discovery of new treatments for blood-related cancers – particularly in childhood leukemia and some adult blood cancers. Despite this progress, however, the prognosis for many blood cancers remains bleak, with hundreds of thousands of patients facing unnecessary suffering and death.

But our enormous progress is being undermined and could soon be reversed due to inadequate federal funding when we need commitment and conviction the most. Over the last four years, federal funding for cancer research has been flat or declined as research has become more expensive. Reduced support for cancer research could lead to delays in the development of new screenings and treatments that could help detect cancer early and save lives. Some research groups have already terminated lifesaving clinical trials.

As a cancer survivor and ongoing patient and a Leukemia & Lymphoma Society volunteer, I don’t understand how anyone would think our country can afford to curb its investment in blood cancer research.

Leaders in Congress say they are committed to funding the fight against cancer, but so far they have given it a lower priority than hundreds of other programs. The House of Representatives proposed a 1.5-percent increase for the National Cancer Institute, the nation’s premier cancer research institution, far less than the average 6.4-percent increase for other health and education programs. With the increased costs associated with medical research, that does not even keep pace with last year, let alone the declining budgets of the last few years.

I urge Rep. Davis and senators Durbin and Obama (take a break from the campaign trail!) to support residents here in Illinois, as well as the rest of the nation, living with blood-related cancer and those who will be diagnosed with the disease by committing to increase funding for cancer research at a minimum at the rate of medical inflation. Simply put: The greater our investment, the more lives we will save.

Daniel J. Jarvis
Oak Park

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