Good post by Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society on the contrast between the amount of attention and resources devoted to breast cancer in contrast to lung cancer. His final plea is powerful:
Which brings me to another thought: is there anyone out there besides me who is frustrated and perhaps dismayed at this increasing “politicization” of our efforts to provide research and attention to various cancers? Are we so focused on our particular cancer that we lose sight of the larger picture? Are we becoming so narrowly committed that we forget that as we delve more deeply into the secrets of the genome that we are in fact finally learning truths that will be applicable to many cancers, and not just one? Do we have to line up like soldiers in formation to choose our favorite cancer and forget about the rest?
I know that nothing I say or write can bridge the gap. However, in my everyday life, I am concerned about all patients with cancer, from those with the most common to those with the most rare, from the adults and the elderly to the children and youth, from quality of life to the effectiveness of communications. I cannot-and will not-allow myself to put one cancer above another. I will always commit to supporting fundamental research to identify the root causes of these scourges, and will also commit to do what I can to improve the availability and effectiveness of the treatments we offer all patients with cancer, no matter what identifying moniker they may carry from their disease.
So my plea for the month of November is that we recognize the impact and the sadness of lung cancer, the reality that we really need to get past the blame game, and we need to be balanced in what we do, what we say, and how we say it. Suffering is suffering, and we should never forget it. We should remember that stigmas for cancer patients are punishing, and not every prejudice we have about how someone contracted a cancer is always the truth. Even if it were, those afflicted deserve the thoughtfulness, care and consideration we should offer all who have a serious and potentially fatal disease.