Opinion: The war on cancer is ongoing

Lucas Misera

This weekend, Kent State held the KSU Flash-A-Thon, an annual event that raises money for Akron Children’s Hospital’s pediatric oncology department. Though more than $31,000 was raised in a collaborative effort to fight cancer and similar dance marathons have collected over $135 million, there is plenty of work left to be done.

In 2015, an estimated 1.6 million new cases of cancer developed in the United States. The fight also needs to be taken abroad. According to the World Health Organization, 60 percent of cancer cases develop outside of the U.S. and Europe, while 70 percent of deaths from cancer are from similar regions. It’s estimated that over 15 million new cases are found worldwide each year, but many people across the globe are making sure that cancer isn’t a death sentence.

Research is paying off: The National Institute of Health reported that from 2003-2012, the mortality rate of cancer has annually dropped, on average, by 1.8 percent in men and 1.4 percent in women. Prostate and breast cancer, the most common types of cancer in men and women respectively, have a five-year survival rate over 90 percent. Certain types of cancer, specifically those attacking the pancreas and liver, have a five-year survival rate under 20 percent, but make up a much smaller percentage of diagnoses. However, the message is clear: Much more work needs done in the way of battling this life-threatening disease.

Funding is crucial in saving lives, but there is a more emotional, abstract segment of fighting cancer that transcends the work of scientists and researchers. Building communities around those affected is key in keeping cancer in the public eye. With the effectiveness of scientific research over the past several decades, we need to be sure to keep pushing for a cure.

Individually, we can each make a difference. We can all act in solidarity to remind those fighting that they aren’t alone—that entire communities are dedicated to helping make their struggle a little easier. On Saturday, several hundred students came to Flash-A-Thon not only to raise money, but also to remind those affected by cancer that we will go to great lengths to assure them that they aren’t alone.

Dance marathons and other philanthropies are an excellent way of building a community around the strongest individuals in our society. Those affected by cancer remind each of us to work for something far greater than ourselves and to keep the well-being of others in our minds. The battle with cancer will continue to be long and arduous, but the KSU Flash-A-Thon certainly displayed that much of our community is willing sacrifice their time and money for those in need.

Lucas Misera is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].