April 23, 2008

Dear Editor:

Americans are longing for reasons to celebrate. Let me suggest one that may have been overlooked—the tremendous strides we have made in cancer research and treatment.

When President Nixon declared a “War on Cancer” in 1971, the average chance of surviving cancer (of any type) for five years was just 50 percent. Today, we’ve raised that number to nearly 70 percent. Improved diagnostic tests help us find cancers earlier; new treatments are more effective and less toxic; and insights into patient care mean we’re treating the whole person, not just the disease.

On June 1st, Chicagoans can celebrate these achievements by participating in National Cancer Survivors Day. This is a worldwide event held to honor survivors everywhere and remind us that there is life after a cancer diagnosis.

In recognition of National Cancer Survivors Day, the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University will hold its 15th Annual Cancer Survivors’ Celebration & Walk. The event—the largest of its kind in the country—is a non-competitive stroll along Chicago’s lakefront. Participants will include survivors, their families and friends, and many of our doctors, nurses, and staff members who have cared for them.

The Survivors’ Celebration & Walk is not a fundraising event. It honors the progress we’ve made, the connections we have to one another, and life itself.

As director of the Lurie Cancer Center, I have witnessed a new era in cancer care, one that saves more lives, improves patients’ quality of life, and holds the promise of eradicating these diseases forever. I have seen patients go from sick and frail to well and vibrant and watched them resume fulfilling lives. With the breakthroughs scientists are making both here and abroad, I expect to see many more.

While the world can be a gloomy place these days, successes in cancer research have also made it one of hope and promise. Please join us in the celebration on June 1st.

Sincerely, Steven T. Rosen, M.D., FACP
Director, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center
Northwestern University

Additional Information

About the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University: The Center is dedicated to scientific discovery, advancing medical knowledge, offering compassionate, state-of-the-art cancer care and training the next generation of clinicians and scientists. The Lurie Cancer Center is the only "comprehensive" cancer center in Illinois and one of only thirty-nine in the nation to hold this prestigious National Cancer Institute designation. In addition, the Lurie Cancer Center is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an exclusive alliance of twenty-one of the nation's leading cancer centers.

Readers can register for the Survivors’ Celebration & Walk at: www.cancer.northwestern.edu/walk