The VP has called for a “moon shot” to cure the disease.
Experiencing a death in the family as a result of cancer can be life altering. This has been especially true in the case of Vice President Joe Biden, whose run for presidency was self-terminated when his 46-year-old son, Beau, died of brain cancer in May 2015. Months after his loss, however, Biden has been chosen to command the effort toward curing cancer, as announced by President Barack Obama during his final State of the Union address.
“It’s personal for me. But it’s also personal for nearly every American, and millions of people around the world. We all know someone who has had cancer, or is fighting to beat it,” Biden wrote in a blog post on Medium1 after the yearly address on the administration’s view of the state of the nation and plans for legislation.
Through his efforts, the vice president intends to use his final year in office to break down barriers in the medical world which he claims are currently preventing necessary progress toward curing the disease. In a statement by Biden in the Rose Garden, he stated that, “If I could be anything, I would have wanted to be the president that ended cancer, because it’s possible.”
Although no “moon shot” solution is currently in sight, as reported by the American Cancer Society,2progress toward finding a cure has made steady strides since 1991. The most recent figures, from 2012, show that the cancer death rate declined 23% over those 21 years. This largely can be attributed to new, powerful drug therapies and better screening and detection.
Biden’s Plan of Attack
Included in his non-presidential efforts, Biden has claimed he will “seize the moment” to push for this “moon shot” cure, and promises to fight to funnel more resources into this battle against cancer. His fight will consist of convening meetings of researchers, doctors, patients and philanthropists to boost cancer research, as well as increasing the collaboration between these experts.
According to Science magazine,3 he also plans to “break down silos and bring all the cancer fighters together” in an increased attempt to regulate and share data, collaborating for a cure. In doing so, he hopes to make use of the promising advancements which immunotherapy and precision medicine techniques have to offer.
[pullquote]”Obama putting Biden in charge of the war on cancer shows the federal government’s recommitment to fighting cancer. It also shows that they acknowledge changes need to be made in how we fund the war on cancer,” explained Chris Rovin, co-founder of WeSearch, a crowd-funding site aimed at connecting patients and donors with researchers in need of funding. “We cannot allow research silos to operate independently anymore. We need unprecedented collaboration and openness in the medical community if we want to see major breakthroughs.”[/pullquote]
Another influential aspect of this fight stems from Beau’s widespread respect and bipartisan support from his time working within the Senate. Although various cancer-related policy changes have been disputed within Congress, many feel Beau’s death will make it difficult for anyone to shoot down his father’s immediate cancer goals.4
Overall healthier choices are also contributing to the lessening death rate, especially because active preventative measures are the best way to ensure the avoidance of cancer. One of these methods of prevention includes the far-reaching effort to quit smoking.
Although Biden has acknowledged that he isn’t naïve, knowing some cancers simply cannot be cured, there is hope that by leading this fight he will assist in commencing revolutionary advances to a comprehensive cure. With a clear national commitment toward lessening cancer-related fatalities, now is as good a time as ever to officially win the “war on cancer.”
- Medium. Inspiring a New Generation to Defy the Bounds of Innovation: A Moonshot to Cure Cancer. Available at: https://goo.gl/iUWDck
- American Cancer Society. Cancer Statistics Report: Death Rate Down 23% in 21 Years. Available at: http://goo.gl/lnGIVF
- Science. What Vice President Biden’s moonshot may mean for cancer research. Available at: http://goo.gl/VGv9Uv
- The Atlantic. Biden’s Bid for a Legacy: A Moon Shot for Cancer. Available at: http://goo.gl/2SwlnV