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Biden champions cancer research, treatment innovation in federal budget

Diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s are three diseases affecting a lot of people in Southwest Florida, and billions of federal dollars are within reach to work on figuring out cures.

X-rays can tell deadly stories. It’s one that tens of thousands of people hear every year, “You have cancer.”

Caroline Powers’ dad heard those words. In 2012, cancer took his life.

“My family sort of experienced going through lung cancer diagnosis and all of that treatment,” explained Powers, the senior director of federal relations for American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. “I wanted to do something to help cancer patients and families like my family.”

“I have two little girls who love to tell people I’m trying to get rid of cancer,” Power said.

Powers knows all too well the fight is long and hard, and not everyone wins.

“If you’re a cancer patient or family of a cancer patient, there’s anxiety about, ‘Will this treatment work for my loved one. And if it doesn’t, well, what’s next?’” Powers said. “And for too many patients, there is no other alternative.”

President Joe Biden thinks there should be more alternatives. In his federal budget proposal, Biden wants $6.5 billion to launch a new health agency to drive innovation and speed up the process for getting breakthroughs out to patients.

“When I ran I said I wanted to be the President who would preside over the end of cancer as we know it. When we see the strides we made, you talk to the docs and the researchers, I can tell you it’s within our reach,” Biden said publicly. “It will find cures for cancers and other diseases by investing billions of dollars that companies are not willing to do, drug companies are not, don’t have the capacity. And I know we can do this. I know we can find great breakthroughs.”

The president calls his newly proposed agency Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health, or ARPA-H.

American Cancer Society told us it expects the more rare and very difficult cancers to treat — such as brain or childhood cancers — would benefit the most from a new push for innovation.

“Rare cancers with lower potential returns on investment for commercial entities, some of those cancers that have seen so little progress,” said Powers. “Every advancement that we’ve had in cancer in the last 50 years is due to federal investment in these institutions.”

“It’s exciting to think that we’re going to make that next great leap in cancer and get to a point where no one hears those words, ‘You have cancer,’” Powers added.

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Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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