By Karen N. HALL
If the government does not bring an end to the sequestration, my sister Sarah and other cancer patients like her may have little chance of survival.
My dad died 10 years ago of a rare sarcoma cancer. Last year, Sarah, who is 33, was diagnosed with a similar, yet even rarer, cancer. Now her life depends on a clinical drug trial. Her cancer is moving fast. If this next drug trial fails, her life will hinge on the research being done by universities and drug companies.
Funds drying up
But the sequester is blocking some of the funding for cancer research and adversely affecting the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to approve any future drug trials. It is estimated that the budget reductions will include $450 million for cancer research sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, which is facing a $1.6 billion cut over the next several months.
Current research could also be put on hold, and treatment resulting from research could be delayed, as the FDA’s typical 10-month review time could stretch on and on. Those delays could mean death instead of life for many cancer patients.
It is already getting exceedingly difficult for them.
“Cancer clinics across the country have begun turning away thousands of Medicare patients, blaming the sequester,” the Washington Post reported. What’s more, according to the Huffington Post, “Some cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials in rural areas will have to travel thousands of miles to continue their treatments as a byproduct of spending cuts brought on by the sequester.”
Proponents of the sequestration argue that government spending is out of control and that these cuts are necessary for the economy. I am not an economist, but I know that some economists, including Nobel laureates Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, argue that the sequestration cuts are actually bad for the economy.
Above all, I know that my sister, and many cancer patients like her, shouldn’t have to die because of the sequestration.
This isn’t just critical to my family. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year.
The government needs to end the sequestration right away. Too many people are suffering already, and my sister can’t afford to wait for the cancer treatment that could save her life.
Karen N. Hall is a student at Edgewood College in Madison, Wis. She wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
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