Editorials

letters | government in shutdown

Lives are in the balance when political clash hampers cancer treatment

Cancer patients nationwide owe a debt of thanks to US Representative William Keating, of Massachusetts’ Ninth Congressional District, for helping to reverse the furloughing of the National Institutes of Health employees who approve cancer patients for clinical trials (“NIH website set to reopen, enabling Dana-Farber trial to begin,” Oct. 4). The stories of Leo Finn and others who need such potentially life-saving trials highlight the importance of sustained funding for both cancer research and clinical trial services.

One in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Given cancer’s broad and serious impact, we shouldn’t be allowing political differences to jeopardize their survival to make political points.

It is the core role of government to fund and support essential services whose costs are too high, or whose benefits too long-term, to be provided by the private sector. The sequester funding cuts were threatening to those suffering from cancer and other life-threatening diseases, but the shutdown could represent a death blow for some.

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We can only hope that Keating’s courageous and compassionate efforts will serve as a role model to Congress. Thousands of lives depend on it.

Deborah J. Cornwall

Marshfield Hills

The writer is a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.