Only two Republican candidates participated in Tuesday's Livestrong Presidential Cancer Forum. I thought four was a poor showing for the Democrats on Monday. But two? I had a hard time mustering the interest to watch this disappointing show of support for a disease consuming the lives of countless Americans-myself included.
I did watch the forum. And I'm glad I did, because I got to meet two men-Senator Sam Brownback and Governor Mike Huckabee-who shared some insightful remarks.
On Sam Brownback
Brownback was also disappointed by the lack of participation. "I wish all the candidates were here," he said. "I do too," I thought just before he announced that he co-chairs the Cancer Caucus in the U.S. Senate with Dianne Feinstein. Cancer is personal to him, he declared.
A lot of people think government doesn't work for them, said Brownback. They've lost hope. He'd like to change this. It's about restoring confidence, he said. We have to start believing we can do it, start setting objectives, and start getting it done.
Sounds great. But how?
Brownback wants continued progress on the tobacco front. He wants to give terminal patients access to tier-one drugs. He wants to equalize the state health insurance reimbursements, ban stem cell research, keep insurance premiums low, and hold off on HPV vaccine requirements for young girls.
On Hillary Clinton's assertion that President Bush has declared a war on science, Brownback says, "I absolutely disagree." And I disagree-but with Brownback, not Clinton.
On Mike Huckabee
Cancer is personal for Huckabee whose wife was diagnosed in 1975 with a cancerous tumor on her spine. Told her mass was inoperable and that surgery would do nothing but paralyze her, his wife beat the odds. She emerged from surgery, wiggled her toes, endured radiation, and went on to have three children-doctors said this wasn't possible. Huckabee says his wife is the recipient of research. Five years earlier, and she would not have survived. Amen.
Research is not the only avenue Huckabee supports. He also believes in lifestyle change. He's embraced it himself-he altered his diet and exercise regime five years ago-and wants others to jump on board. One-third of all cancers can be prevented if we take charge of our bodies and treat them with proper fuel, says Huckabee. That means no smoking. Huckabee has successfully banned smoking in all indoor workplaces in Arkansas, and if elected as Commander in Chief, he'll do the same in all states.
For me, this forum wasn't as moving as the Democratic forum. It contained some compelling arguments-the whole lifestyle perspective is right up my alley-and I especially like Huckabee. But I wasn't jumping out of my seat with enthusiasm. I do commend these guys for taking a stand, for representing a party that failed to join them, and most of all, for letting me know my personal crusade with cancer is worthy of a national discussion.
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Published On: August 29, 2007