Cancer Prevention…Well it’s about time!
By Judy Medeiros Fitzgerald
“The signing of the National Cancer Act of 1971 by then U.S. President Richard Nixon is generally viewed as the beginning of the war on cancer, though it was not described as a "war" in the legislation itself.
Despite significant progress in the treatment of certain forms of cancer (such as childhood leukemia), cancer in general remains a major cause of death 40+ years after this war on cancer began, leading to a perceived lack of progress and to new legislation aimed at augmenting the original National Cancer Act of 1971”
As a cancer survivor, I constantly have to push back the demon in my head that keeps whispering that ugly word, “recurrence”. From the moment one is diagnosed with cancer, one’s life is changed forever. Everything becomes referenced as “before” and “after”.
The United States is the most powerful nation in the world. We have fought many wars and the odds are on our success…except this one. We are losing the war on cancer. Since I can recall, cancer was a word that one only whispered if a friend was diagnosed for fear that even uttering the word would somehow make it contagious. In my youth, thankfully, this word was not something one heard often. Unfortunately the times they are a changing and no one is spared the loss of a friend or loved one from this evil foe. While cancer rates are changing rapidly upwards, our strategies have not changed at all. Slash, burn, poison is still the fate of those diagnosed and the treatment itself is a battle some will not win.
Thus far, we have focused on “For the Cure” because we thought we had no other defense. Now, a doctor in Cleveland, Vincent Tuohy, has proven that we do have another battle plan…prevent the disease in the first place. Although this sounds too simple…many great ideas are now considered simple that were once though unimaginable. Isn’t it time to change our focus on cancer to prevention?
Until I was immersed in the sea of cancer, I did not realize that the focus on “for the cure” meant that little funds are available for research doctors who dare to think that cancer can be prevented. Less than 3% of research funds are available for these great “outside the box” thinkers. Isn’t it time we made this a level playing field and supported these new and incredible ideas? I agree that until we can prevent the disease we must continue to look for new ways to treat those afflicted but perhaps, just maybe, the key to unlock the cure could be the very same key that prevents the disease in the first place.
Dr. Tuohy’s journey began by looking at what is happening in the environment of the breast that makes it a good neighborhood for breast cancer. By isolating a protein, alpha-lactoalbumin, that was greatly expressed in cancer cells but not in healthy cells, he began to develop his vaccine. As a result, after many years of testing and study, he has found that his vaccine can not only be used to prevent the disease, but also treat the most lethal form of breast cancer, triple negative breast cancer known as TNBC. A paradigm switch to prevention has resulted in new HOPE for women now facing a daunting diagnosis.
Winning a war requires unity of nations. This being the case, perhaps we need to unite all organizations working independently and with separate agendas to a common focus. Isn’t it time we put differences in philosophy aside to change the tide of research and support great thinkers with ideas of Prevention? Let’s ride the new wave of cure…to Prevention.
Isn’t it time?
To support Dr. Tuohy’s work…join us for the first 5K walk for the vaccine. Go to http://toniturchifoundation.org for more information and to register.