Yesterday was both very sad and at the same time a joyous day that celebrated a life well lived. My wife and I attended a beautiful Mass at our local Catholic Church for the wife of a dear friend. Mardy and Baz were a devoted couple both to each other and their faith and were married for over 50 years. They raised six children and were blessed with 17 grandchildren. She was taken from her family and friends after bravely fighting the ravages of cancer over several years, and is now in the warm and loving hands of God.
I realize that we are not immortal, but as the service proceeded a question kept coming into my mind. Why did she and others have to suffer so with cancer?
It is a sad fact that almost everyone has a family member or close friend who has been stricken with some form of cancer. My dear mother was a cancer survivor, it is nearly five years since my wife received a cancer diagnosis, and my mother-in-law died of the disease just four weeks after her cancer was discovered. Last month my cousin in the Chicago area learned she has liver and lung cancer. She is determined to beat the odds.
When I came home I went to my computer to research the extent of cancer in America and learned that in 2002 it was estimated that over 555,500 Americans would die of cancer that year, or about 1,500 deaths per day. You may be interested to learn some further disturbing statistics about the various types of cancer by linking to the following site.
The numbers are shocking to say the least, but the same nagging question kept coming to my mind. If our great country can put a man on the moon, fight great wars around the world, build bridges to nowhere, appropriate billions of dollars in foreign aid to countries with corrupt dictators, and wastes billions of dollars, why can’t we increase the funding of research to aggressively attack and find cures for all cancers?
Certainly great strides have been made over the years to solve the mysteries related to cancer, much work remains to be accomplished. Let me suggest that you look at another link to learn details about federal funding for cancer research via the U.S. National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes for Health.
As you see the NCI receives about $4.86 billion in annual funding and it has been at that level for several years. While this does not represent the total amount of money being directed at cancer research, I find it disgustingly insufficient when you consider the amounts of money our government wastes in fraud, corruption and simply inefficiencies. Currently we spend more money each year to incarcerate illegal aliens than we do to eliminate cancer. Where are our priorities when it comes to addressing one of the most devastating diseases to strike humanity?
The failure to call for an all-out national attack against cancer is to say the least unconscionable. We must all demand that our elected officials wake up and address this situation now and not some time in the distant future. How can we permit our loved ones to suffer the torments of this devastating disease? We all owe it to the Mardys of this world, and our loved ones who have suffered with cancer to do something about it now…not later.
At the end of the Mass the Monsignor graced Mardy with this well known, beautiful Irish Blessing.
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
Rest in peace dear lady. You deserve the warmth of Gods hands.