OPINION: Proposition 6: Saving Lives by Helping Texas Conquer Cancer
Thursday, November 14, 2019
Posted by: Kanaka Sathasivan
By LaTashia Kiel, DNP, RN, CEN
Hota Kotb, Robin Roberts, Olivia Newton-John, and Alex Trebek all have something in common that many of us would know if asked about it on Jeopardy! A cancer diagnosis. But, even if many of us know about these folks’ public cancer fight, most Texans don’t have to go beyond close social or family circles to pinpoint an example of this potentially deadly disease.
The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 125,000 Texans will be diagnosed with cancer this year. As Texans, we voted to help our great state continue the fight against cancer by passing Proposition 6 last week. Proposition 6 was an amendment proposal that re-allocated $3 billion dollars to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT).
I vividly remember my very first close encounter with cancer. When I had been married for less than a year, my mother-in-law announced that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer. The mere word cancer meant fear, panic, stress and anxiety. The news was unexpected and terrifying.
I am a nurse, but nothing had prepared us for the coming battle. Besides reminiscing about her ability to make perfect red velvet cupcakes with homemade icing, I will always remember how hard she fought, how worried she was about leaving us behind, and the toll it took on our family as we watched her slowly and painfully die.
I cursed cancer, prayed for a miracle and hoped with all my might for a cure. Cursing cancer made me feel better only for a moment, the miracle was not granted on this side of heaven, and the cure wasn’t found in time.
The nurse in me encouraged my family to continue to hope—to dream about a world free of cancer. I challenge you to imagine it for a second — no more color-coded ribbons to raise awareness, cancer-themed runs or long, sincere Facebook posts wishing peaceful rest to loved ones. This may seem far-fetched, because it is rare to find anyone untouched by cancer in some way. But the good news is that, with advances in cancer research, many cancers are no longer an automatic death sentence. People are living longer, surviving, and flourishing after a cancer diagnosis.
It comforts me to know that there are people in our world, people in the United States, and people in Texas that do care. They care so much about finding a cure for cancer, preventing its spread, and ameliorating the lives of cancer survivors that they have dedicated their lives to doing just that.
They are people like Dr. Margaret “Ruth” McCorkle of Yale, a trailblazing pioneer nurse who spent her life making cancer care better, and Dr. Mary Louise Adams of The University of Texas at Austin, an ambitious nurse who created culturally appropriate screening programs for Texans. They give all of us hope. And, while they were unable to see cancer defeated, it’s not too late for our children or for us.
In 2007, Texans voted to allocate $3 billion in bonds to conquer cancer by creating CPRIT. CPRIT was designed to make Texas a world-renowned destination for cancer research and prevention. In the 12 years since, CPRIT’s accomplishments have been remarkable. In Texas, more than 10,500 lives have been saved as cancer deaths decreased by 8% from 2011 to 2016. Over 19,000 patients have received life-saving treatments through CPRIT’s services, and 5.7 million prevention services have been provided to Texans. CPRIT funding also helped recruit 2018 Nobel Prize winner Dr. Jim Allison to Texas to continue his great work in immunotherapy.
These advances are due largely to the decision Texans made in 2007 to defeat cancer. With the re-allocation of funds voted in by Proposition 6, this vital work will continue. Thank you, Texas Nurses for taking a stand against cancer!
If you have an idea that could help Texas conquer cancer, more information about CPRIT can be found at: https://www.cprit.state.tx.us
LaTashia Kiel is a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Co-Founder of the Kiel Colon Cancer Foundation, and a Member of the National Colorectal Cancer Policy Leadership Council.
Editorial support with manuscript development was provided by the Cain Center for Nursing Research and the Center for Transdisciplinary Collaborative Research in Self-Management Science (P30, NR015335) at The University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing.