This week CNN featured a letter from Lance Armstrong to President-Elect Obama. The gist: we need to strengthen the fight against cancer through creating national coordination, increasing National Cancer Institute funding, investing in prevention and screening, and ramping up support services.
As one of the 70,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year, I strongly support Lance’s call to action. But the most important issue is not mentioned: health insurance. Coordination, research, screenings and support are lost if Americans do not have access to the fruits of these labors. Cancer patients cannot livestrong without quality, affordable health insurance.
When I was diagnosed with cancer at age 27, I had no health insurance. I am not alone. 13.7 million young adults are uninsured. This means that when we have cancer, we get diagnosed at later, more advanced stages. This is a key reason why over the past 30-years ped and older adults have seen a steady increase in survival rates while 20 and 30-something survivors have seen no improvement at all, and our survival rates are starting to decline. I agree with the President of the American Cancer Society who affirms that in order to save lives, the fight for health insurance and our search for the cure must go hand in hand.
Our role as empowered 20 and 30-something citizens did not end when we left the polls, or when Obama was announced as the next President. We must continue to be savvy and place targeted pressure on this new administration to make a change in cancer. We must never forget that the most incredible breakthroughs in cancer mean zilch if we cannot gain access to them.
Have a read of Lance’s letter. What is your response to it? What would you write in a letter to Obama about your cancer?