It’s Thanksgiving morning and I am sitting quietly at our kitchen table while my wife Teresa bakes some bread. That is about the only thing usual about the holiday this year. No big turkey. No happy sounds from children and grandchildren running about. We will be Zooming with the family shortly which is better than nothing, but certainly not the same as reading a book with a grandchild on your lap in front of the fireplace. Nevertheless, we, like everyone else, are doing what we can to make the best of the current circumstances and look forward to the day, hopefully in the not too distant future, when we can be together again in person.
Social media and the news these days are full of reports on how some people struggle to fill their days with meaningful activity. This has not been a challenge for HCCC faculty, staff, students and volunteers. The mission of Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center – “to decrease the pain and suffering caused by cancer in Iowa, surrounding communities, and the world through improved cancer prevention and treatment based on three interdependent missions of research, clinical service and education” – is unchanged. Needless to say, our approach to addressing this mission has been impacted significantly. We have adjusted to, and indeed thrived through, this challenge because of the remarkable members of our team.
This blog is not an appropriate place for me to express my personal political opinions. On the other hand, recent political events could well influence the Holden mission of reducing the burden of cancer for those we serve. I therefore decided it would be appropriate for me to use this forum to discuss the potential impact of current national politics on cancer research.
We are all too aware of recent political happenings such as the government shutdown, the resulting short-term continuing resolution that reopened the government (at least for now) and the major issues of ongoing political contention. We know recent haggling has been accompanied by political name calling, finger pointing and what seems like an endless discussion of who got a “win” and who got a “loss.” It comes across as if we are keeping score in a game rather than trying to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Indeed, the discussion seems to be based on the assumption that political deliberations are a “zero sum game.” If one side is to win, the other side needs to lose. And, if decisions are viewed in this manner, no matter how bad a politician appears, that politician still gets a “win” if their opponent can be made to look worse.
It has been a while since I submitted a blog entry, and one of my New Year’s resolutions is that I will get back to posting entries more regularly. I thought I would start with a summary of the past year in the field of cancer in general and the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center in particular.
Is preventing cancer possible? Two announcements on opposite sides of the equation made me think a lot about cancer prevention this week.
The giant pharmacy chain CVS made the brave announcement that they will stop selling tobacco products even though sale of such products contributes to their financial bottom line. Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths. Reducing the convenience of buying tobacco is an effective way of reducing use. The CVS announcement was greeted by well-deserved and enthusiastic approval from a number of cancer organizations including the American Association for Clinical Research, The Association of American Cancer Institutes, the American Cancer Society, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Continue reading
On a recent trip out of town, I had a bit of a disagreement with my rental car. I wanted to find NPR and listen to the news. First I tried the preset buttons on the radio, which led me to talk show hosts yelling at each other and golden oldies – not what I was looking for. I then tried scanning up and down the dial, where I found mostly Justin Bieber and Katy Perry (I would not have known who the “artists” were without the help of the hyper-kinetic DJ). I eventually gave up. Continue reading