Saturday, April 6, 2013


As long-time readers know, I don't really like to get political in Lympho Bob. Politics, especially these days, leaves little room for hope, and that's not really what I want to do here. I stay away unless there's something happening that directly affects cancer patients.

Enter the S-word.

The effects of the sequestration cuts are starting to come down now, and cancer patients are being affected.

There are reports of cancer patients being turned away from cancer clinics, because the sequester has resulted in cuts in Medicare -- like this one, which has been reported widely. Doctors in clinics are being forced to make choices between treating patients, firing staff, and considering alternate (cheaper, maybe less effective) treatments.

And cancer research will be hit hard, too, with cuts to the National Institutes for Health and the National Cancer Institute. We can expect some cancer trials to just stop in the middle of the study, since cuts will mean fewer patients enrolled, not enough to be statistically significant. Others will be slowed down. Cuts to the FDA will mean longer times to approval. It's possible that cancer research cuts will set things back for years.

There's certainly a case to be made for cutting spending. The problem is with the way the spending was cut -- with no discussion of impacts, no conversation about priorities, no talk about alternatives. It's the lack of conversation that hurts things, and we're in a time and place where there is no genuine conversation, no attempt to hear anyone else's point of view, no compromise.

And there's certainly still time to rethink cuts and make decisions about what's important. Cancer hots so many people, directly and indirectly, that I would hope everyone involved in these decisions will see how the sequester had impacted people they care about. More importantly, I would hope that they see the money that can be saved (if we have to be crass about it) in the future by spending some now to control, if not cure, so many cancers.

It's a very frustrating time to be a cancer patient....

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