It is my privilege and honor to welcome you to the 31st annual National Cancer Survivors Day®. Every day – but today especially – is a day to celebrate the progress we have made against cancer.
This progress has not occurred by accident. It has taken decades of painstaking, intricate basic research funded by the National Cancer Institute and other agencies to understand the fundamental biology of cancer; dedicated clinical researchers seeking new approaches to treat the disease; and passionate survivors, family members and friends bonding together to advocate for increased funds and awareness. We have worked in partnership to push the pace, and we are reaping the benefits.
Survival rates have continued to trend upward; there are now more than 15 million cancer survivors living in the United States. While this progress is very heartening, we also know that cancer survivorship is more than compiled statistics and trends. And more than number of years of life after diagnosis. Survivorship is really about the quality of life of the survivors.
We all have a role to play – and a responsibility – to accelerate progress that translates into real differences in patients’ lives. Each of us – from the researcher working in a basic science lab, and the patients on clinical trials, to the survivors and advocates influencing government regulations, and the lawyers protecting patient rights – we all are working toward a common goal.
We share a tremendously important mission – to help all people live longer, healthier lives through better prevention, detection, and treatment of all cancers.
I look forward to working with each one of you to deliver on that promise. Together we can continue to change the meaning of a cancer diagnosis for tomorrow’s patient. They deserve nothing less.
Norman E. Sharpless, M.D.
Director, National Cancer Institute