Pushing Progress, Maintaining Momentum
As I conclude my second term as a member of the President's Cancer Panel, I would like to thank the President and my colleagues for an enlightening and substantive 6 years, as well as reflect on the progress and future endeavors of the Panel.
I was privileged to have the opportunity to serve alongside Dr. LaSalle Leffall and Dr. Margaret Kripke, who have become my mentors and friends, and it was an honor to serve this country with them. Since my appointment in 2002, the Panel has explored many topics and made recommendations focused on improving the National Cancer Program. I am proud to have been a member of the Panel and of our achievements; however, there is still much to be done to guarantee that all Americans affected by cancer benefit from research and receive adequate treatment and follow-up care.
The Panel's 2003-2004 series, Living Beyond Cancer: Finding a New Balance, focused on the needs of cancer survivors. Definitions and perceptions of cancer survivorship, age-specific challenges throughout the life span, gaps in cancer survivorship research, and policy issues were emphasized in the report. In the 2004-2005 report, Translating Research Into Cancer Care: Delivering on the Promise, the Panel made recommendations on how to best translate research advances into effective cancer prevention and care for all segments of the population. Overcoming barriers to translating research and the importance of evaluating progress in accelerating research translation were emphasized.
Assessing Progress, Advancing Change, the 2005-2006 report, examined the progress of implementing key recommendations from the two previous reports. Through discussion with key stakeholders, uneven progress and limitations to advancing the National Cancer Program were exposed, allowing the Panel a better grasp of the work yet to be done. The most recent report, Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Policy, Program, and Personal Recommendations for Reducing Cancer Risk, explored ways to reduce cancer incidence and mortality through the promotion of healthy lifestyles. The Panel examined how lifestyle affects cancer risk, and how the government, communities, and individuals can take part in improving overall public health.
The current series, Strategies for Maximizing the Nation's Investment in Cancer, addresses the inefficiencies within the current cancer enterprise. Alternative models that approach cancer research and care from a business or economic perspective as a method to facilitate and streamline research, drug development, and delivery of care processes were examined.
During my time on the Panel, I contributed to the creation of many recommendations to the President. But I feel that as much as I contributed, I have learned even more in the process. Through my service on the Panel, I have seen the toll cancer takes on American lives and now recognize it for the epidemic it truly is. I have witnessed the many challenges we face as a nation in overcoming this disease and acknowledge that many of these challenges are entirely of our own making. To beat this disease, we must eliminate bureaucratic roadblocks, address the lack of funding, and sustain dedication at the highest levels of our government - only then can we make true inroads to save American lives.
In the face of a national epidemic, we need action from our country's leaders. There is too much at stake to preserve the status quo and if we don't act, generations of Americans will pay the price for our failure. My hope is that the Panel's recommendations will continue to be regarded as urgent actions necessary to reduce the burden of cancer. I am honored to have had the opportunity be a part of such an influential federal advisory committee and look forward to hearing about the Panel's continued success.