KEEP THE CANDLE LIT IN MEMORY OF SOMEONE . . . . . . . .
Below are the colors that represent the different cancers in memory of anyone you know who has been struck by cancer.
A Candle Loses Nothing by Lighting Another Candle.
Please Keep The Candle Burning!
(This is a rather long plea regarding the need for Political Action towards a cancer cure, rather than just very-needed donations of money; it represents the opinion of the website administrator only. Print this out to read later, and then enjoy navigating online through Cecily's site).
Please copy and e-mail this page to make everyone on Earth aware that no one of us is exempt from being touched by this terrible illness, and that Worldwide Priority #1 must become a meaningful treatment of complex cancers TODAY, and then a CURE as quickly as possible. It is no less urgent a priority than the problems of Banking, Stocks, International Affairs, and Homeownership ... all of these being vitally important to our society to function. Yet so is life itself.
If the world can find $100 billion annually to fight wars, if science is able to develop the ability to send men and robot explorers to the stars, if we can decode the blueprint of how to manufacture a human being, and if engineers could invent a nuclear weapon capable of destroying all life on Earth and even the planet itself, (done in only 2 years when conventional thinking felt that it would normally take at least 50 years), then surely we should declare a "Manhatten Project" TODAY on Cancer.
Though we are all grateful that the progress in cancer treatment over the past 50 years has helped many victims in many ways, the reality none-the-less is that the path we have been following in the "war on cancer" has come nowhere near to curing the worst forms of this disease or even meaningfully extending the lifespan of the deadliest form - Lung Cancer - beyond 2 or 3 more months than if no treatment had been given at all.
NON-SMOKERS do get lung cancer, and young people in their 20s, 30s and 40s, do get Lung Cancer ... or Brain Cancer, or Ovarian Cancer --- nobody is immune at ANY age.
Please send a copy of this page to everyone you know, so that this message blankets the planet Earth in every language, and causes all of humankind to face the reality that Cancer is so widespread a disease that it WILL eventually touch the life of every person on the planet in some manner ... rich or poor ... male or female ... regardless of race or religion or social standing or political affiliation ... no one is exempt!
The current research and development system for finding a treatment, and ultimately a cure, even with researchers working tirelessly and making fascinating new discoveries daily that help us to understand the bio-chemistry of this plague, has none-the-less NOT been working in the way that humankind requires. Without any finger pointing at all, that is the simple reality.
Certainly if you have money to give, then give it ... please. As much as you can. There is no question that money, and plenty of it, is needed to develop meaningful treatments for long-term survivability from the complex cancers (such as lung and ovarian). BUT it is clear that after decades of trying, money alone is simply not the sole answer. Money can only create the potential to develop meaningful treatments. CLEARLY SOMETHING ELSE IS NEEDED IN ADDITION TO THE CONTINUED FLOW OF MONEY ... SOMETHING THAT WE HAVE NOT YET EVER HAD AS A PART OF THE PROCESS ... AND IT IS NEEDING URGENTLY.
In much of science and technology, the success and the speed of developing new innovation is usually proportional to the amount of money thrown at it: likesay, developing a new weapons system, improving the resolution and size of TV sets, building the tallest skyscraper on Earth, landing men on the moon, development of the computer and the i-Phone, heart and lung transplants, cloning, and sending cameras outside of our solar system. But with Cancer, it simply hasn't worked out that way.
An enormous amount of money has been spent on cancer research in recent decades, (thankfully), but without yielding the full extent of results that we have come to expect from the financing of other great scientific goals. Even with lots of money, the traditional system of developing meaningful treatments for the deadliest cancers has fared far less well, although progress cannot be denied, especially in the case of the less deadly and less complex cancers. In many cases survival rates have indeed increased. But as a disease, Cancer is still the biggest killer behind heart attacks, and cancers such as lung and ovarian and brain are still almost always a guaranteed death sentence in spite of all the money that has been thrown at it!
A new approach from the ground up is needed, with inventive, dynamic and politically-uncompromised leadership ... plus plenty of funding. And it will require the mandate and the urgency of the "Manhatten" and "Los Alamos" projects. If you are a that leader, then pick up the torch IMMEDIATELY and bring in others. It may require the launching of political battles in the Congress of your country to create another system from scratch, a system that excludes being attached to, or requiring funding from, the existing government agencies. Instead it may require financing directly from the government without having to apply to existing agencies for grants. In order to create a new 21st Century infrastructure for this pursuit, there must be no political strings attached. A new ground-up approach will need to be developed in order to create a revolution in thinking that inspires bold new approaches to develop an EFFECTIVE treatment and as quickly as possible. And it may even be that drug development is not the only, or even the ultimate, answer.
Part of launching a new approach, then, may very well start with financial underwriting from Governments, but for a NEW endeavor with new rules and approaches. With no disrespect intended to all of those who today toil with great effort towards a common purpose, the hard truth is that the FDA has not been the answer. NIH has not been the answer. NCI has not been the answer. The insurance industry and their symbiotic relationship with hospital administration (along with daily computer printouts that calculate how much the life of any given patient is worth) is not the answer. Pharmaceutical companies have not been the ultimate answer for the deadliest cancers, (though Gleevic has been a wonder drug for a form of adult Leukemia; and breast cancer, once considered a death sentence, is today often treatable). Genentech has not been the answer, (though at a cost of $50,000-$100,000 per year per drug, some of their newest drugs may give some patients with complex cancers extra weeks or months of life expectancy; and to be fair, for head and neck cancer the survival time has doubled). Medical Doctors who tirelessly administer the treatments according to FDA instructions will not be the ones to invent the answer (though when new treatments are created they will certainly help to improve upon protocol design based on their personal new experience). And as helpful as they may be to many victims and their families in many areas of cancer and research funding, even the American Cancer Society has not been the answer.
After decades of research, the current system, even with money behind it, has not made a huge dent in the survival rates of the deadliest cancers such as lung and ovarian. No blame. Just a sad fact.
It is important to spread hope, of course, but this must also be tempered by the reality that the war on the deadliest cancers has, in the big picture, been a dismal failure. But then what IS the answer? Only one thing is for certain. Without the dismantling any of the existing organizations and agencies being implied at all, an entirely new "system" must be created to try to find an answer in new, bold, and non-political ways.
Of course perhaps the answer could rest, in part, on something as eccentric as an X-Prize being offered. Or perhaps if a fortune 500 billionaire acquires a deadly cancer, a billionaire with the correct inventiveness and management vision, they will seek to personally underwrite discovering a treatment in "Manhatten Project" manner by investing a billion dollars and bringing in the most dynamic leaders and the finest minds in medical research, place them into a Los Alimos-like, state-of-the art facility, and encourage a broad-enough vision to give the freedom to pursue approaches that are untried and, typically, never funded by Government agencies, (the reality of grant awards is that some broad areas of research are in political vogue at any given moment, and some are not.)
Perhaps an effective treatment might be found in bypassing bio-chemistry and using purely 19th century mechanical answers that have never been seriously researched and funded --- such as blood filtration (a kind of "cancer-dialysis" machine) to remove cancer "messenger" proteins from the blood rather than just strictly looking to develop drugs as the answer. These "messenger proteins" were discovered in 2003, and constitute a "cancer language" of communication between the cancer cells themselves, between the cancer cells and the immune system (in the form of sabotaging defences), and even between the cancer cells with the blood vessels. Without this ability to speak to each other and issue marching orders for the birth of new cancer cells to take place, the cancer cells theoretically would not be able to duplicate and spread. Perhaps it may require such "out-of-vogue" ideas to succeed, ideas that are within the realm of science but not popular amongst those who award research grants, nor ideas that are in the financial interest of the drug companies.
Even in science, "ideas" are political, and successful treatment may require development of ideas that don't typically inspire Government awarded grants. For example, a road that is barely ever funded revolves around development of a means of stopping Metastesis (the SPREAD of existing cancer). The successful grant applicant will be one whose approach deals primarily with the development of drugs to kill the EXISTING cancer cells. For some reason it is not popular amongst the granting agencies to want to explore the notion that if existing cancer cells cannot spread, then a victim may be perfectly able to still live a full life without ever being "cured." Drugs are "in" politically. Other less-explored techniques are not.
And for a new drug today to meet FDA approval for cancer use, in addition to having low toxicity it must also prove to extend life by at least several weeks WHEN USED ONLY BY ITSELF with no other drugs alongside. However one of the current theories for the future of the treatment of the most complex cancers such as lung and ovarian, called "targeted therapy," rests with the concept that the synergy of a dozen or more drugs IN COCKTAIL may be the only way to kill COMPLEX cancer cells. Thus 12 drugs may be rejected in Clinical Trials when given individually, though it might prove that when used in cocktail the total synergy could turn the tables. But when it comes to Clinical Trials and the approval process as concerns cancer drugs, the FDA does not take this into account, (admittedly the FDA may now sometimes combine 2 targeted drugs in a trial cocktail, but given the concept behind "targeted therapy" of a large multi-drug cocktail, that attitude is a day late and a dollar short.) The FDA may be great for dealing with the one-illness, one-pill type of diseases. But it is the WRONG agency to oversee the approval of cancer drugs, where complex cocktails may be the answer. Maybe the process of developing drugs and treatment protocols for cancer requires its own specific agency that is built from the ground up, constituted in a manner that will keep it free of politics, and with a 21st century approach.
And now we see that even the highly anticipated approaches such as targeted therapy (the "cocktails" mentioned above) may STILL not be a viable answer given the cost of paying $50,000-$100,000 annually for just a "single" drug, let alone for a cocktail of a dozen or more targeted drugs. Even if it works!
The research announcements and experimental results that come out almost daily from University Cancer Research Departments are very exciting to read about. The grants awarded by NIH and NCI are very important. They surely will contribute to resolving pieces of the puzzle, and all of those efforts should be maintained. But in addition to continuing to fund the current system, a new agency (possibly in the mold of the "Manhatten" and "Las Alimos" projects") run by a new generation of leadership is clearly required; an agency that will break away from the old and long-established approaches and create an historic 21st Century effort to find the means to defeat the deadliest cancers NOW. TODAY. FAST.
The leaders of this new approach to solving the problem will have a passion, the will, the access and the skill, to dare to lead a revolution in re-inventing the process of seeking a cancer cure --- research leaders whose vision and path towards the seemingly impossible goal of stopping lung cancer and ovarian cancer and brain cancer from being an automatic death sentence is akin to Barack Obama's achieving the seemingly impossible goal of being elected U.S. President barely a century after the existence of slavery.
It can be achieved. But it is not being achieved. There is someone who will lead the call. But that leader has not yet answered the call. A new infrastructure can be created. But it has not come anywhere near being created. Cancer can be defeated. But our current system will not likely be the source of that defeat, though it will no doubt be of help.
More than just money is needed ... and money IS needed. But of vital importance is that politics and greed must not exist within this new infrastructure --- a tough assignment in any arena. A "constitution" directing the aims of this endeavor must reject financial gain as a motive ... even though that same philosophy is essential to drive the typical innovations within our economy. As an example: a single "special" mouse was discovered by accident at an American University lab in 1998; a mouse that, quite by the fluke of a mutation, carried a unique gene in its DNA that made this one mouse alone IMMUNE to all human cancers, even when injected with every type of human cancer at thousands of times the lethal dose --- and a colony of thousands of offspring mice with the same "immunity gene" has since been bred. Yet squabbles over the "patent rights" and collection of "future profits" prevented all other research labs around the world from obtaining and breeding these cancer-immune mice for study. The DNA of mice is very similar to that of humans, and disease-killing white blood cells in Mice are almost identical to the disease-killing white blood cells in Humans. Many have considered this mouse the most exciting discovery in the history of cancer research, but it remained unexploited due to a struggle over financial profits even as tens of millions continued to die annually of cancer.
When the Governments of humankind needed to cure polio badly-enough, it was achieved; or to send men to the moon in order to politically beat the Russians; or to create nuclear weapons capable of destroying the Earth in order to defeat the Nazis. Mankind has shown an ability to make the seemingly impossible happen, and at a rate accelerated beyond all expectation, when it has been made an urgent National Priority.
And when the AIDS patients marched on Washington in the early 1990s wanting the release of lifesaving drugs 10 years before the normal rules, it was forced to happen against the will of the FDA and the Big Pharmaceutical Companies. The combined voices of many could not be silenced. But Cancer has no protest movement. Perhaps it is time for that to change. Perhaps the urgent need for a treatment for complex cancers must become seriously political ... just like the atomic bomb and the race to the moon. And perhaps you, the very reader, are the person destined to lead that charge if only you dare to take the first step TODAY. What is that step? The successful candidate will have to invent it! And in doing so, you may have begun a process that will someday save the life of the person whom you love most in all the world.
This page is an enlargement of a letter that was circulating on the web to increase cancer awareness. The controversial opinions expressed on the need for CHANGE are those of this web site administrator only. Permission is granted to copy this page and re-circulate and/or publish. This page is not protected by copyright.