Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cancer and the Election

First and foremost, I hope that everyone has weathered through Hurricane Sandy safe and sound! 


We are one week away from the 2012 Elections and as I am sure many of you will agree, this has been a long and highly competitive campaign season on many levels, especially in the race for the White House and I hope that each and every one of you who is eligible to do so will take a few minutes out of your day next Tuesday, November 6th and vote, and I hope that you will take some time over the next week to consider the candidates and what each of them stands for and promises to do for our country. 


When considering the candidates, consider this: we have had four and a half hours of Presidential debates, and during those 270 minutes, not once did either candidate make mention of cancer and what they would do, as the leader of this country, to find the answers to this horrible disease that is taking the lives of 11,000 Americans every week. 


These 11,000 Americans are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and as it were in my case, our children.  Deaths in America from cancer are the equivalent of one of the Twin Towers falling every single day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  In America today if you are 85 years of age or younger, cancer is the leading cause of death and for those between the ages of 30-65, cancer claims more lives than the next three causes combined.  For those 0-14 years old, cancer remains one of the leading causes of death.  It was recently announced that cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanics in the United States and right here in Monroe County, cancer is the leading cause of death regardless of age, race, or gender!  Many people believe that if we do not do something, by 2016, cancer will be the leading cause of death in America, regardless of age.  From a financial standpoint, cancer is one of the most, if not the most, economically devastating diseases, and finding the answers needs to be a national priority and needs to be moved to the front burner. 


Let’s take a look at some odds:  Odds of dating a supermodel: 1 in 88,000; Odds of bowling the perfect game: 1 in 11,500; Odds of catching a ball at a major league game: 1 in 563; Odds of tripping while texting: 1 in 10; Odds of getting cancer in your lifetime: 1 in 2 men, 1 in 3 women.   These odds are unacceptable.


The answers are going to come through clinical trials.  Where we have made some progress is in childhood cancer, as some 65-70% of all pediatric cancer patients are involved in clinical trials, where in comparison, only 1-3% of adult cancer patients are involved in clinical trials.  If clinical trials are where the answers are going to be found, it is easy to see why we are losing this fight against cancer. 


Since starting CANCER MISSION 2020…THE END OF CANCER BY THE END OF THE DECADE almost two years ago, I have talked to people at every major cancer center in the country.  We know more now than we ever have and we are on the verge of finding the answers, but we need to put our resources into clinical trials and this needs to be a priority for our leaders in government.  If we continue to do things the same way we have been doing them, yet expect different results, that is the true definition of insanity. 


The President’s most important job is to protect the American people.  As American citizens, and as voters, the majority of us having been touched by cancer directly or indirectly, we can no longer bury our heads in the sand and wait for someone else to find the answers to cancer. 


Let’s ask our leaders, and the candidates, what they are going to do to protect the American people from cancer – a disease that not only takes the lives of so many prematurely, but seems to have to humiliate them in the process.  It is time to rekindle the belief and the will in the American people that cancer is a disease that will not be tolerated any longer and can be defeated!


If you agree that we can do better in our fight against cancer, check out www.cancermission2020.com, sign the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition, download copies of the Petition and collect signatures, and share this information with your family, friends, colleagues, and co-workers.  There is strength in numbers and together, we can put an end to cancer by the end of the decade!


Wishing all of you a safe and Happy Halloween, and don’t forget to vote on Election Day!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Help Camp Good Days This Holiday Season!

Fall is certainly in the air here in Upstate New York and with the change in season, all of us at Camp Good Days are gearing up for the coming Holiday Season and looking forward to the New Year!


With the Holiday Season comes one of our largest and most important special events – the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo Fest.  The Kazoo Fest, which has become a long-standing holiday tradition, was started more than 60 years ago by Joe Benet outside the Toy Department of the Sibley’s store on Main Street in downtown Rochester and has since become one of the major and most successful fundraising events to benefit the many programs and services we provide. Following Joe Benet’s death from cancer, his son, former Monroe County Legislator, Bill Benet, contacted me to see if the Kazoo Fest tradition could be continued, staffed by volunteers, with proceeds benefiting the programs and services at Camp Good Days.  Since 1984, Camp Good Days, with help and support from various retail locations and thousands of volunteers, has continued the Kazoo Fest. 


I am so pleased to share with you that we will once again have Kazoo Fest locations at the mall entrance to JC Penney at Marketplace Mall, Greece-Ridge Center Mall, and Eastview Mall in the Rochester area.  We will also have Kazoo Fest locations at the Galleria Mall in Buffalo; Destiny USA, the former Carousel Center, in Syracuse; and The Shops at Ithaca in the Southern Tier Region.  The Kazoo Fest kicks off on Friday, November 23, 2012 and goes through Sunday, December 23, 2012 and will feature the name-sake Camp Good Days’ kazoos, the always popular, peppermint-scented Candy Cane Pens, and other merchandise. 


HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED to help make the Annual Joe Benet Memorial Kazoo Fest a great success.  No previous volunteer experience is needed and volunteers may select their preferred Kazoo Fest location, as well as their preferred dates and times.  If you are interested in volunteering a few hours of your time this Holiday Season, please contact your local Camp Good Days Office (Headquarters / Rochester: 585-624-5555; Buffalo: 716-206-0709; Syracuse: 315-434-9477; Ithaca: 607-266-9180) or check out www.campgooddays.org. 


As we approach the Holiday Season, I would like to ask two favors of each of you. 


The first is that you keep the children and families at Camp Good Days in your thoughts when deciding on your year-end giving.  The only way we are able to continue providing all of our programs and services, for so many who are dealing with cancer, free of charge for the participants, is because of the generosity of so many and the success of special fundraising events.


The second favor is to ask for your help in CANCER MISSION 2020, which many of you know is very important to Camp Good Days, to me personally, and is something that I am fully committed to.  As I shared in my last post, over the past two years we have made great strides in our CANCER MISSION 2020 efforts.  We have hosted three Congressional District Cancer Summits, the result of which was legislation (H.R. 5283) introduced into the House of Representatives by Congressman Tom Reed.  Thousands of people, from all 50 states and 95 foreign countries, have visited the CANCER MISSION 2020 website and signed the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition and we have a number of CANCER MISSION 2020 College Campus Advocates working on our behalf at campuses across Upstate New York.  Most recently, after receiving the news that cancer is now the leading cause of death in Monroe County, Monroe County Executive, Maggie Brooks, asked Dr. Byron Kennedy, Deputy Director of the Monroe County Department of Public Health, and myself, to lead a small, working committee to develop the first steps in addressing this.  We were pleased to have presented the Action Plan to Address the Burden of Cancer in Monroe County at a breakfast meeting on Monday, September 24, 2012, to more than 100 community, medical government and business leaders.  We are now in the midst of many follow-up meetings and presentations regarding this plan.


While we have been making some real progress, we still have a long way to go and WE NEED YOUR HELP!  Let’s take a look at some of the odds…


Odds of becoming an astronaut: 1 in 13,200,000

Odds of getting struck by lightning: 1 in 576,000

Odds of bowling the perfect game: 1 in 11,500

Odds of catching a ball at a major league game: 1 in 563

Odds of tripping while texting: 1 in 10

Odds of getting cancer in your lifetime: 1 in 2 men, 1 in 3 women

Those are pretty staggering and disturbing odds! 


There is strength in numbers and one of our key action items is to have as many signatures as possible on the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition, which will serve as the voice to our community, our government leaders, and our country, that we all want cancer moved to the front burner and want to put an end to this dreadful disease that is taking 11,000 of our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and children every single week. 


You can find the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition online at www.cancermission2020.com.  It is our hope that you will share this with your friends, family members, co-workers, colleagues, neighbors, etc. and ask them to sign the CANCER MISSION 2020 Petition and join us in this effort.  Hard-copy Petition sheets are also available on the website, which you can print and share.  Completed sheets can be returned to us here at Camp Good Days. 


Should you need additional petition sheets or if you are a member of an organization, business, or group that would be interested in having a presentation about CANCER MISSION 2020, please contact Laura Osborn, here at Camp Good Days, 585-624-5555 or losborn@campgooddays.org.  


On behalf of all of us at Camp Good Days, I would like to thank you, in advance, for your help and support in this important effort and we wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and safe Holiday Season!