This week the Cancer Support Community, along with six other leading cancer organizations, including American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, CancerCare, Friends of Cancer Research, LIVESTRONG Foundation, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and the National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) hosted the Cancer Moonshot: One Year Later, an event continuing the momentum of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative launched by President Barack Obama last year. The initiative, launched during his 2016 State of the Union address, was led by Vice President Joe Biden, who lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015. The initiative works with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to increase research funding and accelerate cancer discoveries. Researchers, oncologists, care providers, philanthropists, data and tech experts, advocates, patients and survivors all work together toward the Moonshot goal: to make a decade’s worth of advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and care in just five years.
This year, the Cancer Moonshot: One Year Later event was all about progress—where did we start and where are we now? A variety of speakers spoke about the important contributions made in the fight against cancer over the last year, as well as the work still left to be done. The Keynote address, given by Greg Simon, President of the Biden Cancer Initiative, explored perhaps the most pressing concerns in our healthcare system today; the importance of building a continuum of caring for cancer patients. As Mr. Simon put it, “We want not just care, but caring.”
Chris Draft, President of The Chris Draft Family Foundation, gave a moving talk about the caregiver’s experience and reminded us all of the challenges that caregivers face in learning about their loved ones specific care needs. He spoke in depth about the importance of effective communication between medical professionals, cancer patients, and their families, and the need to eradicate stigma associated with certain types of cancer.
The most important theme throughout the day was the patient. Each panel discussed the different aspects of cancer care and prevention, and the most important message is that the patient is at the center of every cancer diagnosis, and their unique needs and experiences are what really make up effective cancer care. In the first panel, experts from various organizations discussed improving Clinical Trials, such as, how do we get more patients involved in clinical trials, and how do we make them more patient friendly? Next, experts discussed eliminating disparities and how we can better engage communities that are underserved to increase cancer screenings and education. The third panel examined opportunities through data sharing and explored new ways to share patient experiences with doctors across the country, to collaborate and create better ways to serve patients. Finally, panelists discussed preventing cancer, and the continued need for education and awareness for communities, as well as how we can engage not only cancer researchers, but cancer innovators, to getting people excited about social innovation in the cancer space.
After an inspiring day reconnecting Cancer Moonshot partners and reinvigorating the initial momentum of the Moonshot, attendees gathered at a reception for the Biden Cancer Initiative, a new organization dedicated to accelerating progress in cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, research and care through collaboration. Kim Thiboldeaux, CEO of the Cancer Support Community, was one of the impressive innovators in the cancer community who was honored to be named to the Biden Cancer Initiative’s board.
You can watch the entire event on our facebook page.
We look forward to another year of progress and continued collaboration in the spirit of the Cancer Moonshot.