President Obama wants to finally beat cancer. We all do. As we celebrate World Cancer Day can this be THE YEAR where more breakthroughs happen, saving lives and improving quality of life? Sine new science, immune-oncology, has a glimmer of promise.

Living with two cancers, CLL and myelofibrosis, every day is Cancer Day for me. Every day I am happy when I feel well. Every day I wonder what the path could be to a cure. Fortunately for me, I have access to great doctors, elaborate testing, and insurance that will pay most of the costs. When we think about WORLD Cancer anything we have to think about great disparities in knowledge and access to care.

Andrew and his dog

Not only do we need to cure the many, many cancer types. We need to ensure the medicines and processes for a cure are open to all. That is a huge task.

This is multi-faceted. In the US we still have so many patients who get out-dated, toxic care. We still have many patients who never hear about clinical trials that could offer them hope. Most patients are too trusting, too scared, too worn out and the opportunity for better care evaporates. In many other countries it’s even worse.

 My goal is to help fill the information and empowerment gap
My goal is to help fill the information and empowerment gap – to help cancer patients and family members everywhere take more control right at the start, to advocate for the best possible care and to respectfully ask questions. I love the internet because it gives us handy channels to come together. Borders don’t matter.

But while I work hard with the Patient Power team on communications, others need to push for funding of research, collaboration among researchers and patients, and pressure government for simpler procedures to advance approvals for new approaches. Then we need to push for payment for and access to the science that emerges.

This is not an effort that is one day. This is day-in-day out, fueled by the voices of anyone touched by cancer, concerned about it, or studying how to beat it.

If we truly form communities we can do so much. No longer should cancer cause one to withdraw, it should be a call to be educated, engage and raise our voice with others. If World Cancer Day is a spark for a fire that continues to burn, great! But let’s make this the year where we can say we really turned a corner against cancer.

I welcome your comments and wish you and your family the best of year!

Andrew Schorr