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January 12/07 4:53 am - Armstrong Slams Lack of Cancer Funding


Posted by Editor on 01/12/07
 

Armstrong Speaks Out on Cancer Research Funding
Courtesy CNN American Morning

On today's edition of CNN's "American Morning," 7-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong spoke with CNN's Miles O'Brien about the lack of funding for cancer research, the absence of political leadership behind it, and his recent CNN.com commentary discussing those topics, which was read by over 1.4 million online users on the first day it was published. Click on this link to read Armstrong's commentary in its entirety. www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/01/10/armstrong.guestcommentary/index.html

The video segment of his interview can be viewed using the following link. A full transcript of the interview is located below.

www.cnn.com/video/player/player.html?url=/video/health/2007/01/12/lance.gupta.cnn.cnn

Armstrong has teamed up with CNN senior medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, to air a special cancer town hall called "Saving your Life," which premieres on CNN this Saturday, Jan. 13, at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. (ET) and re-airs on Sunday, Jan. 14, at 2 a.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m (ET).

Transcript from CNN American Morning:

Miles O'Brien, CNN Anchor: Cycling champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong is mad as heck. He's not going to take it any more. The seven time Tour de France winner is blasting politicians for not doing enough to fight cancer, the nation's number two killer now. Lance Armstrong has teamed up with our Dr. Sanjay Gupta. They produced a program called, "Saving Your Life," and it might just do that. It airs this weekend. We'll tell you when to watch it in just a moment, but first the man himself, Lance, good to have you with us.

Lance Armstrong: Good morning.

O'Brien: Tell us about this column you wrote on CNN.com. It really touched a nerve, what you said in it, and, first of all, give people the gist of what you wrote.

Armstrong: Well, it was interesting. Just when we start to think that Americans don't really care about the fight against cancer or perhaps are distracted with other issues in the country, we post a column like that, and low and behold, it's one of the most viewed sites ever on CNN.com, so it's refreshing to know that we truly care. The basis of the story was just a general impatience that I have and a whole army of people have with the way we're going about things, with the lack of funding, with the lack of attention, the lack the focus, and the lack of -- ultimately the lack of leadership.

O'Brien: Let's talk about this lack of funding and lack of leadership. How much of the problem right now, when you look at trying to find a cure for cancer, is a lack of money, and how much of it is just perhaps science reaching its outer boundaries?

Armstrong: Well, you know, before we paint a dark picture, I should say that we've made tremendous progress. I wouldn't be sitting here today if we had not made progress. There's 10 million cancer survivors in this country, so, obviously, they feel like we've made progress. The point is that now is not the time to stall when it comes to funding. Now is not the time to stall when it comes to attention.

I think it's an interesting time scientifically, and the two things that you always need with any great team is leadership and young potential, and, you know, coming along right now, with a stalling that we're seeing, you are going to lose both of those things. So our focus and our objective now, and the millions of people that we have behind us, are to make it an issue again. Especially going into the 2008 elections.

O'Brien: Is it really though a question of money, and how much more should the federal government be doing? I mean, the private sector steps up quite a bit here. There's nearly five billion dollars that is donated by private individuals to help find a cure for cancer and to find treatments.

Armstrong: Yes.

O'Brien: Is that enough?

Armstrong: Well, we can always use more money. Again, I think the biggest issue is leadership, and leadership, you know, that not only starts in the White House, but it trickles down through Congress, through the NIH and straight to the NCI and, also, just on the community level, who is leading this fight. There's a lot of other issues here that money has helped in the past, just if you consider access for all Americans.

We could save a full 1/3 of all cancer deaths, 200,000 lives, just by providing the proper care to the people that need it the most. I mean, that's money we've already spent. Why not give it to the people that need it? That's the easy stuff. I tell people all the time, let's save one-third of them right now, and the final two- thirds, let's devote time and attention and money into research and finding cures for their issues.

O'Brien: Why do you suppose there isn't more of a focus and there isn't more leadership in this front, because everybody, one way or another, knows someone or has dealt with -- personally has dealt with cancer?

Armstrong: Well, Miles, it's pretty simple. This is an old issue. It's become complacent. Nixon declared war in 1971, and that was a long time ago. There are new things that come along. There are distractions that come along in this country, and I'm not saying that one is better or more meritorious than the other. But if you look at the war that we face today, it's the topic that gets discussed all the time.

So when you come along and talk about cancer and funding, it's not, for lack of a better word, it's not sexy anymore. But, you know, we can all remember the frenzy around the bird flu. We can all remember the frenzy around SARS. People were freaking out. What we need now is we need people to reengage in the fight against cancer, and the cool thing about the column two days ago was that we learned that people care about it. People actually logged on, read the article, and passed it along to their friends, and to the tune of more than one million people.

O'Brien: Final thought here, personal note please. You're approaching now second tour season without training for the Tour de France. You are literally in a new stage of your life. Are you finding it as fulfilling? Do you miss training for cycling?

Armstrong: Well, the answer would be I don't miss the racing. I sort of miss -- it's hard to not miss that -- being that fit. I still ride the bike on a daily basis. I ran the New York City marathon last year. I still try to --

O'Brien: We heard about that.

Armstrong: That was -- that was a lot harder than I thought, but I'm realistic as well. I know I'm 35, going on 36 years old, and I couldn't be doing what I did before, and the fact of the matter is there's a lot bigger things to do now. And act two is going to be just as exciting for me as act one was.

O'Brien: Lance Armstrong, enjoy act two, and good to see you.

Armstrong: Thank you very much.

O'Brien: And make sure to watch Lance and Dr. Sanjay Gupta as they team up in the fight against cancer. That program is called "Saving Your Life." It's this Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 eastern.

 


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