This afternoon, Ashwani Jain, a cancer survivor and Director of Outreach for the Cancer Moonshot Summit, wrote the below message to the White House email list to share how every American can play a part in the Vice President's national effort to advance progress toward a cure.
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When I was 13 years old, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a cancer that is rarely found in children.
Fast forward 13 years to this afternoon, when I found myself getting on a conference call with Vice President Joe Biden and asking hundreds of Americans around the country if they'd be willing to host conversations in their communities about how we can expedite the pace of cancer progress.
Here's how it all came to be:
Throughout my experience with cancer -- from my initial diagnosis to the surgeries and procedures that followed -- I felt completely out of control. I was in a continuous state of recovery, and never in a place of victory.
I lost hope countless times during my cancer treatments. I felt that life had treated me unfairly and that I deserved better. It's what millions of patients and their families feel every day. Daily points of devastating despair and fear. That their illness will not be cured. That they will never become healthy again.
With the support of family and friends, I beat my illness and rediscovered the hope that I had once lost. But not everyone has the support I had. And no one should feel alone in a fight for their lives. I decided to dedicate my life to helping those affected by this terrible disease.
And I’m proud to say that my job is to help organize communities around the country to make sure every person whose life cancer has touched has a part to play.
On June 29, the Vice President and Dr. Biden are convening a Cancer Moonshot Summit. It will mark the first time that individuals and organizations in communities around the country -- patients, survivors, researchers, physicians, business leaders, philanthropists and more -- will convene under the national charge to double the rate of progress to end cancer as we know it.
Reflecting on my own experience with cancer, here’s what I’ve learned:
Health care is not just about medicine and treatment, but more importantly about people who are making real-time, human decisions. And I’m grateful that President Obama and Vice President Biden have taken a stand to make sure our health care system works better for the actual people who rely on it the most.
When you talk to patient advocates for diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, or diabetes, they’ll often mention the lack of political will from those elected to lead us. These issues are complicated, and incredibly personal for millions of us. And creating lasting change starts with creating an open dialogue between patients and the communities charged with treating and researching their diseases.
The Vice President is boldly declaring this Administration’s political will with his Moonshot Initiative.
Want to be a part of it?
Now is a great time to meet up with other supporters in your community to get ready for the work ahead. Join your fellow cancer patient advocates, researchers, community leaders, and health care professionals as we share updates and discuss efforts to accelerate progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care.
Let’s end cancer once and for all.
Director of Outreach
Cancer Moonshot Summit