Once again, the Camp Good Days’ family, along with the Rochester Institute of Technology community, and the Greater Rochester community, lost a very special soul to cancer with the passing of Donna Scheid on Monday morning. Donna leaves behind her husband, Pete, and her beautiful children.
Over the past 11 years, the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and Auction Dinner has become the single largest fundraising event for Camp Good Days in the Greater Rochester area and Donna was one of the people who committed and devoted so much of her time, talent, and many volunteer hours to help this event become so successful. The logistics of an event of this magnitude require the hard work, effort and dedication of hundreds of volunteers and even with her diagnosis and battle with cancer, Donna was always smiling and always willing to do whatever she could to help.
This brings me back to when are we going to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?! When are we, as Americans, from the greatest nation on earth, going to say that we need to do more? More not only for the 11,000 Americans who die from cancer every single week, but more for the world we will leave behind. What greater gift could we give to the world than to find the answers that have been eluding us in this fight against cancer?
In the past month alone, Walter Mondale’s daughter, Eleanor, died from cancer; Ted Kennedy’s daughter, Kara, died as a result of the cancer treatments she went through; Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer; and Donna lost her battle. These four individuals were under the age of 60, and all of their deaths have occurred since September 17th. These are only four of the 44,000 Americans that have died as a result of cancer during the past four weeks. These people should have had so much more life to live and so much more ahead of them.
On December 2nd, we will commemorate the one-year anniversary of announcing and launching CANCER MISSION 2020…THE END OF CANCER BY THE END OF THE DECADE. When we announced CANCER MISSION 2020 at Frontier Field in Rochester, we said that our effort would include a three-pronged approach – Information, Call to Action, Accountability.
We have been and continue to share information with people about where we currently stand in our fight against cancer. 11,000 Americans die from cancer every single week, which is as if one of the Twin Towers was falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. One in three American women and one in two American men will face a cancer diagnosis at some point in their lifetime. If you are 85 years old or younger, cancer is the leading cause of death in the United States and many believe that by 2016 cancer will be leading cause of death in the United States, regardless of age. In 2010, the World Health Organization announced that cancer was not only the most economically devastating disease, but for the first time had become the number one disease killer.
We have to go about finding the answers in a completely different way. The one area in which we have had some success is in pediatric cancer research. This success has come about because of the fact that approximately 60-70% of pediatric cancer patients are actively involved in clinical trials. However, when it comes to adults, currently only 1-3% of adult cancer patients, of which there are many more than pediatric patients, are actively involved in clinical trials. If only 1-3% of adult cancer patients are involved in clinical trials, it is easy to see why 11,000 Americans are dying every single week. This needs to change because the answers are going to be found through clinical trials and no matter how good something appears with animals in a lab, it has to also be shown to have a positive impact on human beings, otherwise it will never get into the hands of those who could most benefit.
When we announced CANCER MISSION 2020, we shared this information and asked people to visit our website, www.cancermission2020.com and I am pleased that thousands and thousands of people have visited the site and have joined us by signing the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition.
We also shared the belief that in order to be successful in this effort, it would have to be a cooperative and collaborative one involving government and the private sector. Cancer is an issue that affects all of us and has brought together representatives from all sides of the aisle…freshman and experienced, Republican, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Independent, Tea Party, etc. Cancer is an issue of the people and it crosses all lines. This past August, we held three Congressional District Cancer Summits. These Cancer Summits, held in the 25th Congressional District Cancer Summit with Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle, the 28th Congressional District with Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, and the 29th Congressional District with Congressman Tom Reed, brought together several hundred people, as well as some of the most prominent cancer physicians in Upstate New York. Dr. Stephen Edge of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Executive Committee, Dr. Leslie Kohman, Distinguished Service Professor, Medical Director of Surgery, and Medical Director, Upstate Cancer Center at Upstate University Hospital, Candace Johnson, PhD, Deputy Director, Chair, Pharmacology and Therapeutics and Wallace Chair in Translational Research at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and Lydia C. Pan, Director of Worldwide Policy at Pfizer, Inc. shared their expertise, research, comments and ideas with attendees.
We are now in the process of compiling all of the information that came out of the Congressional District Cancer Summits and preparing a CANCER MISSION 2020 Update & Report. We are also pleased to report that Congressman Richard Hanna of New York’s 24th Congressional District and Congresswoman Kathy Hochul of New York’s 26th Congressional District have committed their support and have expressed their willingness to host additional Congressional District Cancer Summits.
When my granddaughter asked me why at my age, I was taking on the CANCER MISSION 2020 effort, as she said that it seemed like a daunting task, I answered her that yes it is a daunting task, but I am tired of going to funerals.
In my role as Chairman & Founder of Camp Good Days, which just began its 33rd year of operation, I have had the opportunity to work with thousands of cancer patients and their families and I have gone to way too many funerals, probably more funerals than some clergy members.
If we are going to be successful in this effort it is going to take all of us! PLEASE, if you have not yet checked out CANCER MISSION 2020, www.cancermission2020.com, please go to the site, sign the petition and join us in this important initiative. And please, share the site and the initiative with your family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, co-workers, fellow parishioners, etc. It is going to take all of us, together, to finally find the answers and put an end to cancer by the end of the decade!