Monthly Archives: September 2006

Trans Fat: To Ban Or Not To Ban?

No sooner did the American Cancer Society release its revised guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for the prevention of cancer than New York City once again stepped up to the plate and announced another stunning proposal for the health of its citizens.


The headline on the news release reads, “Health Department proposes two changes to city’s health code for pubic comment: first, to phase out artificial trans fat in all restaurants; second, to require calorie labeling in some restaurants.”


As reported in the media this morning, not everyone is in agreement that this first recommendation is such a good idea.


Fundamentally, some are asking, is this the beginning of the feared Twinkie police starting to tell us what to eat, or is it in fact a valid proposal that will have significant benefits for the health of the citizens of New York?


New York has certainly set its mark as a leader in important health initiatives, especially since Mayor Bloomberg took office.


The citywide smoking ban that took effect three years ago is exhibit #1. 


Roundly criticized at the time as being unworkable, unenforceable, and economically destructive, the measure is Continue reading →

Diet, Exercise And Cancer Prevention

The American Cancer Society has just released its 2006 update of our guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention.


I’m sorry to tell you that if you like to sit in front of your television watching reality shows, or enjoy those huge double-thick burgers at the local fast-food emporium, you are plain out of luck.


On the other hand, if you watch your weight, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, you are taking some of the steps needed to reduce your risk of cancer, according to the guidelines.


My first reaction as I read this informative document was that there simply is no fun left in the world. Then I realized that many of us—including yours truly—have had to modify our “lifestyle” behaviors, increase our exercise, decrease our calories, and pay attention to what we eat. 


Despite those restrictions, we still find plenty of things to eat and plenty of things to do that we enjoy.  And, most of all, we can take comfort in the fact that we are able to take some degree of control over our lives, improve our health, and give our best effort to staying active, … Continue reading →

The Real Celebration on the Hill: Epilogue

It is now the morning after Celebration on the Hill 2006.  I am sitting in the airport, beginning a new day.


By now, I expect the workers have started to deconstruct of the tents on the mall and the Wall of Hope.  Some folks next to me are talking about their experiences of the past two days as they prepare for their own journey home.


I can’t stop thinking about what I saw and experienced yesterday, and I can’t ignore the impact that it has had on me personally.


I consider myself reasonably knowledgeable about “petitioning the government,” or more plainly stated, trying to influence legislative and regulatory policies and actions.  After all, I have been engaged in this process in one way or another for the past 25 years.


But nothing that I have done in this arena affected me to the degree that I experienced on the Mall yesterday.


To see so many people come together, committed to making a statement and impacting our legislative process was in itself a major feat.


These were folks who were focused on their goal.  They were well briefed, well intentioned, well … Continue reading →

Celebration On The Hill: The Survivors

This has been one incredible and emotional day.


As I write this, I am sitting by the reflecting pool on the Mall in Washington, looking up at the Capitol dome bathed in sunlight, listening to a singer on stage singing “This land is your land, this land is my land, one day this land will be cancer free.”


People are walking by.  Their spirit and their animation are infectious.


What really impresses me are the smiles on so many faces.  People wearing survivor sashes, walking with their friends and their families on their way to another gathering.


For me, this is also a time of reflection, for I am sitting across the way from luminaria candles that are dedicated to the memory of my mother who survived her colon cancer and died years later from other causes, to the memory of my father-in-law who died from colon cancer, and in honor of my mother-in-law who is a cancer survivor.


As with so many people participating here today, my family too has been touched by cancer. 


What you discover at moments like this is that the emotions are really never far … Continue reading →

Celebration On The Hill: Congress and Commitments

Sometimes you see things you don’t expect at events like Celebration on The Hill.


For me, one of those “little moments” was a tent near the top of the mall as you enter the line of state volunteer booths.


The program being provided in the tent is called “Democracy Live.”


The presentations going on during the day at that location provide information about different aspects of government, how government works, and how people can influence the processes of government.


In other words, the focus is on improving the information knowledge of those who want and need to be informed.


There were a number of catchy slogans on billboards outside the tent that also caught my attention.  Some samples:


·        The most common way citizens in any democracy relinquish their power is by thinking they don’t have any


·        Too many people expect wonders from democracy, when the most wonderful thing of all is just having it


·        There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship


·        It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the … Continue reading →

Celebration On The Hill: The Wall Of Hope

I started my morning today sitting quietly among the Wall of Hope banners thinking about the importance and meaning of this day.


Now, in the early afternoon, I am sitting here once again regathering a bit, thinking still about what I have seen and heard over the past several hours.


As you walk along the Wall of Hope, you see 4200 banners that have been assembled into an area on the Mall in Washington DC that is about 2 blocks long.  At the center of the Wall is a spotlight aimed to the sky which will shine tonight for the last time, to let everyone know we are here, and remind them of our message.


Each of these banners represents a community, and there over one million signatures in all, representing messages of hope and memory from many people touched by cancer.


Lining the grass walkway of the wall are some other very special banners.  Each of these has a picture and a message.  Some are about people who have been diagnosed with cancer and survive.  Others are stories about folks who have lost their battle.  Others are about doctors and … Continue reading →

Celebration On The Hill: The Volunteers

Celebration on the Hill, as I noted in my previous blogs today, is very much an event focused on advancing the mission of the American Cancer Society.


But I am also reminded that this Celebration is much more than that.


As I walk around the various state tents I am struck by the sheer energy and involvement of the volunteers who are the core of the success of Celebration on the Hill 2006. 


Without volunteers, this event would not be the success that it is, and without volunteers the American Cancer Society could not move forward with its life-saving mission to reduce the burden and suffering from cancer.


There are volunteers here from across the country, and from every congressional district.   But beyond that, it is truly amazing to watch them all interact and engage with each other.


To me, that is what makes this event so meaningful.  It is not about one person, one goal, one idea or one commitment.  Each of these volunteers brings there own stories and their own reasons for being here with us today.  


But given that, they are all reaching out to each … Continue reading →

Celebration On The Hill: The Message

I don’t recall ever being involved in an event quite like Celebration on the Hill 2006. 


I have been engaged over the years in a number of advocacy related initiatives here in Washington and in various state capitols, but this one is way beyond what I have participated in previously.


It is somewhere between a county fair, a rock concert and a political convention all rolled into one.


The opening ceremonies are about to get started, and people are migrating to the main stage, just next to the reflecting pool here on the Mall in front of the Capitol.  Rolling Stones’ music is coming from the loudspeakers, and the chatter of the crowd is nonstop.


But all of that is merely a part of a much larger picture. 


There are tents scattered around the mall from every state, and each one is filled with American Cancer Society volunteers spreading the word about why they have come here today to make their voices heard.


Ultimately, we want to hear from our legislators that they understand the importance of our message, and what must be done to sustain the progress we have made … Continue reading →

Celebration On The Hill 2006: A Special Day

As I write this, I am sitting in a very special place: the Wall of Hope that has been constructed by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network on The Mall in Washington as part of our Celebration on the Hill 2006.


The Wall of Hope is more than a piece of construction.  It represents the sentiments of thousands of Americans who have signed on to the commitment to reduce the burden and suffering from cancer.


But nothing says it better than the sign that is placed at one of the entrances on 7th Street:


“This monument serves as the voice of millions of Americans whose lives have been affected by cancer.  Relay for Life expresses the hope that those lost to cancer never be forgotten, that those who face cancer will be supported and that one day cancer will be eliminated.”


If you have any doubts about Americans’ commitment to share in the American Society’s mission to reduce the burden and suffering from cancer, you should be in Washington DC today.


A literal army of volunteers has come here from across the country to speak with a single voice, to … Continue reading →

The Amazing Analysis of Genes That Cause Cancer

I recently posted a blog about a potential new therapy for melanoma and other cancers using genetic engineering to enable our own lymphocytes to recognize and destroy cancer cells.


No sooner had the intense interest in this story calmed down, than another article appeared in the same journal, ScienceXpress, describing what one news release described as “Genome code cracked for breast and colon cancers.”


It is no secret to readers of this blog that I believe we are moving forward rapidly with respect to new discoveries in basic cancer knowledge, and this knowledge has the potential in the very near future to move us much closer to our goal of diminishing the burden of cancer.


This new research report brings us even closer to that goal.  And, as we approach this new era we need to start thinking in terms of scientific and technologic convergence.  This convergence, which I will discuss later in this entry, has the potential to unlock the mysteries of cancer, and further advance our early detection, treatment and prognostic capabilities.


The goal of the researchers in the present study, from several medical institutions and companies led by Johns HopkinsContinue reading →