(WWLP) – While the country has been focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer continues to be a huge public health concern.
Wednesday is “Fund the Future Day,” and 22News is teaming up with the American Cancer Society to ensure they have the funding needed for life-saving research.
Normally, the American Cancer Society raises funds through a series of relay for life events, but the pandemic has made that very difficult this year.
22News spoke with Mark Goldberg, a member of the American Cancer Society National Board of Directors. He is also a Medical Oncologist and Hematologist on the faculty of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Why have you dedicated so much of your life to the American Cancer Society?
My mother died of lung cancer when she was 36 and I was only 9 years old. I didn’t understand. Why couldn’t they fix her? She went to the doctor and did everything, but she still passed away. That made me know I wanted better for all the other kids with sick moms and went into the field.
That sparked your passion for research?
Yes, I think about how far we have come in understanding cancer and treating cancer and supporting patients and their families since then and the major role the American Cancer Society has played in the cancer research space. ACS has been in this fight for more than 100 years and we have played a role in almost every major cancer research breakthrough in the last century. We have funded the research of 49 investigators who went on to win the Nobel Prize. Our rigorous peer-review process is top-notch, and we have reached over 200 institutions nationwide – which allows us to invest in the very best research projects. Currently, right here in Massachusetts, the American Cancer Society is currently funding 93 grants totaling more than $45.3 million.
Can you tell us about how the ACS research program is being affected because of COVID-19?
Projected ACS revenue for the year has declined by one third. Despite deep and painful cuts we have made, American Cancer Society programs, including our hallmark research program, are in jeopardy. Each year, we invest $100 million in new research and because of the budget shortfall, we are at risk of cutting cancer research funding by 50 percent this year. This would represent our lowest investment in this century. We are in danger of losing a generation of progress in research and treatments if we don’t act. Failing to invest in research now means we will have fewer preventative tools, fewer treatment options, lost progress towards a cure, and ultimately, more deaths from cancer in the future. More kids like me could lose a mom.
What do you want people to know most about today and “Fund the future”?
At ACS we know what to do when it comes to cancer research but we need your help at this critical moment. We’ve been at the forefront of advocacy, education, patient services, and support, and research for over a decade and we do not want to slow down, we cannot slow. Cancer didn’t slow down because of the pandemic and neither can our research program. I’m not expecting someone to give $10,000 – but we’ll take it, but if you have had fewer lunches out because you’ve been working from home then maybe that $40 you would have spent you could donate.
All-day Wednesday, 22news will be encouraging you to make a difference by donating to the American Cancer Society. You can donate by texting cure to 20222, calling 413-455-0616, going on their Facebook page, or donating on their website.