Hey folks! Please check out Lance’s op ed in the Austin American Statesman today.
Texas Voters Want to Know How the Candidates Plan to Make Cancer a National Priority
by Lance Armstrong, 2.21.08
To Sens. Clinton and Obama: From personal experience, I can certainly appreciate the drama of a close race. And I also appreciate the fact that our state is playing a deciding role in this election. As Texans, we like it that way.
So, welcome to Texas where you will participate today in a debate on the UT campus and on March 4th, you will watch Texans cast their primary ballots.
As you prepare for this next round of campaigning, I’m sure that you’re pondering this question: What do Texas voters care most about? Allow me to offer a humble opinion and some recent history that may prove helpful. (Senator McCain and Governor Huckabee, this free advice is yours for the taking as well.)
What Texans care most about are the lives of their loved ones and they understand that cancer touches every American family, just as it has touched yours and mine. And they’ve taken a bold, unprecedented step to support the war against this disease.
On November 6th, 2007, Texas voters recognized that the time had come to renew our national commitment to fighting cancer. We turned out overwhelmingly in an off-year election to support Proposition 15, an initiative that established the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and made a $3 billion investment in this fight.
We lose 37,000 Texans and 560,000 Americans to cancer every year-tragic losses to a formidable foe that doesn’t care about party affiliation, income or age. And to draw a contrast with what the pundits keep focusing on in this campaign, whether you’re female or African-American.
But for years now, we have had to watch cancer funding head South or remain static at a time when 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with the disease every year. To the people of this state, that was completely unacceptable. They saw apathy coming out of Washington when they expected to see action.
America first declared war on cancer more than three decades ago, when we were still pumping leaded gas and dialing on rotary telephones. We now have our very own 30 Years’ War with 12 million survivors to show for it.
But after more than 30 years, are we any closer to victory? Sadly, voters in this state had to conclude last fall that the answer is no. Victory won’t result from putting programs and funding on auto-pilot. Victory will be achieved by making cancer a national priority and by vigorously employing the weapons we know to be effective against this opponent.
We know what works in the fight against cancer: Screening and early detection save lives. The challenge: making them available to more Americans.
Breakthroughs in treatment are being made all the time. The challenge: getting those breakthroughs out of the labs and into the hospitals and clinics where they’ll help us.
Texans also know that in order to keep making those break-throughs, we need the brains, talent and dedication of our hard-working medical professionals. The challenge: we’re losing our medical talent to other countries.
And here’s the biggest challenge of them all: health care has become a right for some and a privilege for others. For the professional athlete in Texas, the stockbroker on Wall Street, the politician in Washington, there’s a health care system that grants the gift of hope in the darkest hours. But for too many others, there’s no access to that system, no early detection, no quality treatment.
Mind you, this is a fiscally conservative state and voters here aren’t in the habit of opening wide the coffers. But last November, Texas chose to become the global leader in this war so that we can share our achievements with this nation and the world. And we want a President who rejects the tired old strategy of divide and conquer and replaces it with a new strategy: Unite and conquer cancer.
Tonight and in the coming weeks, you have the opportunity to tell Texans exactly how you intend to support the health of this state and this nation, and how you will bring new leadership to the war against cancer. Good luck. Twelve million American voters and their families will be watching.