A lot of times, people who want to be allies to to the metastatic community ask “How can I help?” Beyond listening and being emotionally supportive, I don’t always have a specific thing I can ask them to do–but today I do! And it’s suuuuuper easy to do. You can do it in your pajamas. You can do it at work. You can do it sitting on the toilet while scrolling on your smart phone. (Don’t lie, everyone does it. This is why they invented Clorox wipes.)
Here’s what you do: Go to this webpage. Put in your info in the right hand sidebar. Click “Sign Now.” Then share it with your friends and family and ask them to do the same.
What is this thing I’m having you sign? It’s a White House petition. It works a lot like a change.org petition, except, if you hit 100,000 signatures, the White House promises to respond, unlike a change.org petition, which nobody is obligated to do anything with, no matter how many signatures you get.
Why did I start this petition? Here’s the situation: you may have been reading about the Cancer Moonshot that the President announced in his State of the Union speech this year. It’s an exciting time in cancer research–we now have the tools available to really make significant progress in preventing cancer deaths, and the Moonshot can help make that happen faster. Saving 5 years in research time could mean saving 200,000 lives in the US just in breast cancer alone, let alone across all cancer types, let alone across the world.
I’m a big supporter of the Moonshot. A lot of its goals are really important and have the potential to be game changers for cancer patients, including metastatic patients. But there’s one key piece that I think is missing: there’s no specific goal on understanding metastasis. About 90% of all cancer deaths, across organs of origin, are caused by metastatic disease, and in breast cancer, that figure is almost 100%. Understanding the metastatic process–how cancer spreads, and how to stop it–is vital in ending cancer deaths.
But currently, very little research money is being spent on understanding metastasis. In breast cancer, it’s only 7% of research dollars. This kind of underfunded research area, one key to preventing cancer deaths, is just the sort of thing the Moonshot should be working on. It should be bringing focus to areas that desperately need better research–and it’s doing that for childhood cancer, for epidemiology, and other important topics. I just firmly believe that metastasis research should be one of those topics.
So, my petition asks that metastasis research be added as a specific goal of the Moonshot. I’m not asking for money (although shifting funds from early stage cancers to those that cause most cancer deaths would also be delightful!), and I’m not asking to remove any of the other important goals the Moonshot has identified. I’m just asking for metastasis research to be added, because I believe adding it will save lives.
If you tend to agree with me, please sign the petition, and share it as widely as possible and ask your family and friends to sign it too. Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way, and many of us have had family or friends pass away from a metastatic cancer–my grandmother died of metastatic melanoma–and so I hope we can all come together around the issue of metastasis research, so that less of us have to lose a loved one to cancer.