Category Archives: File under fighting inertia

Gridlock won’t lead to a cure

What a difference a year makes.
At the end of 2016, then President Obama signed off on the 21st Century Cures Act, a bipartisan effort that appropriated $4.8 billion for cancer research and more than $1 billion to address the opiod addiction problem in the U.S.

To give you an idea of what bipartisanship looks like – it passed the House 392-26 and the Senate by a vote of 94-5.

It provided spending increases for the National Institutes for Health through 2020, and as part of that, increases for the National Cancer Institute.

Today, a year and a month later, Congress can barely agree on when they’ll meet again to vote on even a temporary spending package to keep the government open.
Even worse, President Trump’s 2018 budget calls for a 25% cut in spending to the National Institutes of Health, and more than $1 billion being cut from the National Cancer Institute.
A Senate bill proposed by Sen. Dick Durbin that would allow larger spending increases for the NIH, Center for Disease Control, the Department of Defense’s health program, and the Veterans Administration medical and prosthetics through 2021 is stuck in Senate Budget Committee hearings.
Already, the Washington Post is declaring 2018 as another year of inaction and gridlock.
Meanwhile, more than 14 million people currently living with cancer – according to the CDC – wait on the sidelines, as promising research is halted by lack of funding.
For us, gridlock isn’t a matter of frustration, it’s a life or death issue.

Yes, progress is being made each day in the war on this disease. Today, for example,  Swedish researchers announced they’ve found a way to stop a protein that helps breast cancer cells get the energy they need to proliferate. Sweden gets it.
According to the NCI, there are more than a dozen bills that address cancer issues sitting in committees. None of them are making headlines. People aren’t sitting outside of representatives offices demanding that funding be restored. Maybe a handful of us are emailing or calling our elected officials asking that more be done, our voices being drowned out by partisan bickering that’s erupted in the past year.

I don’t know how to bring civility back to politics. But I don’t intend to wait on the sidelines while each side hurls meaningless rhetoric at each other. Nor should you.

I’ll be spending the day, calling and emailing my representatives, letting them know it’s time to get research moving again. It’s time to find a cure. Because the answer is just sitting there, waiting for us. And I’m dying to find it.

Want to help?

Click here to find bills that are stuck in committee

Click here to ask your representative to do something to move a bill forward.

Hitting Reset

old-energySo there comes a time in this journey where all the battles I can fight are fought. Where all the calls that have to be made are done. Where the research can take me no further. The tests are performed and the results forthcoming. When there are no more decisions to make or actions to take. When it’s time to get back to life. And in this, I suddenly understand what it must be like for a soldier returning home from war.

“Warriors have found the journey home, the journey back to normal as trying as the battle itself,” writes Navy SEAL Eric Greitens in his book Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life.

That’s where I am right now. And I’m feeling a little lost. This should be the easy part. This is what I’ve been fighting for – the chance to get my life back. To get back to writing about something different. To make up entertaining stories rather than writing from the trenches. To work on a publishing career. To get back to training for spring 5ks and summer triathlons. To enjoy long walks with dogs. To plow through the pile of magazines and books alongside my bed. To laugh with the kids in my life. To enjoy my husband’s company. To relish in the excellent health I am experiencing in this moment.

So why am I feeling drained and defeated? What is this fear bubbling below the surface? Why am I feeling so inert? And how am I going to push past it?

I admit my head is still spinning from all it’s taken to get me here. The second-guessing myself, the fear of change, fear of the unknown. Will I be able to afford the new choices I’ve made? Just getting to my new doctor is costing close to $100 round trip. My new health insurance policy took a hit on the prescription coverage so drugs are costing another $100 a month or more. And I haven’t even received the bills for the new medical procedures and the deductibles they’ve hit. These are the things that worry and confound me as I try to move forward.

I know life has a way of working itself out. Paying jobs will come. It’s only a matter of time before I’m besieged by writing assignments, right? And despite threats of an impending snow storm, spring IS just around the corner, signaling hope and rebirth.

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering,” said Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn. “Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” Is this what I’m doing to myself?

I don’t have any answers right now, just a vague notion that it’s time to hit the reset button and “get on with it,” as my great-grandmother used to say. Does anyone out there want to give me a push?