In recognition of September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Congressman Brian Higgins took to the House of Representatives Floor to continue his push for a substantial and meaningful federal commitment to funding cancer research. Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease among U.S. children between infancy and age 15 with more than 11,000 new cases of pediatric cancer diagnosed annually.
During his speech, Higgins recognized little Western New Yorker Anna Rose Leavoy who bravely fought cancer and the many contributions of Roswell Park Cancer Institute in the fight against this devastating disease. Below is the text of the Congressman’s remarks:
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize September as National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and I’m proud to represent the nation’s first comprehensive cancer center, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, an amazing place that continues to turn kids into survivors.
“30 years ago, less than 50% of those with childhood cancer lived beyond 5 years of their diagnosis. Today it’s over 80%.
“According to the Center for Disease Control, over the past 14 years childhood leukemia deaths fell by 3 percent each year.
“We know that cancer research saves lives. The only failure in cancer research is when you quit or are forced to quit because of a lack of funding.
“Last weekend, our community held a fundraiser along with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in memory of Anna Rose Leavoy, a young girl who lost her battle with cancer only two weeks after her second birthday.
“We must recognize the urgent need to fully fund cancer research, to raise awareness for children, like Anna Rose, and to find a cure. “
According to the National Cancer Institute’s Annual Report to the Nation released earlier this year, “among children ages 19 years or younger, cancer incidence rates increased 0.6 percent per year from 2004 through 2008, continuing trends from 1992, while death rates decreased 1.3 percent per year during the same period.”
Upon release of the report NCI Director Harold E. Varmus, M.D said, “The continued declines in death rates for all cancers, as well as the overall drop in incidence, is powerful evidence that the nation’s investment in cancer research produces life-saving approaches to cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment. But, it is also important to note that investments we make today are critical if we hope to see these declines in incidence and death from cancer reflected in future Reports to the Nation.”
Earlier this year Congressman Higgins, a member of the Congressional Cancer Caucus, testified before the House of Representatives Budget Committee calling for the doubling of funding for medical research over the next 5 years.