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  • Last modified 1491 days ago (Oct. 23, 2014)

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Where's the war?

“BREAKING NEWS: The largest terrorist attack the world has ever seen rained death from the skies in Wichita, Kansas, this morning, as rockets filled with deadly nerve gas exploded over the city, killing all 386,000 people in a matter of hours. The President and Congressional leaders declared it an act of war, and vowed to spare no expense in delivering swift and merciless retribution to those responsible.”

Don’t worry, folks, it’s just pretend — Wichita’s still there. But imagine for a moment that it isn’t. All those people gone, just like that. The $1.2 trillion we spent on the Iraq war would be chump change compared to what I’d want to throw at those terrorists.

Here’s something that isn’t imaginary: 585,000 U.S. citizens, one-and-a-half times more than the population of Wichita, will die this year at the hands of a different terrorist — cancer. So says data from the American Cancer Society.

Bringing this rate home, most of Marion would be wiped out in a single day — 1,600 of your neighbors dead, with you and a few hundred others left to mourn.

If all the victims of cancer died in one place at one time, perhaps it would sink in what a travesty this is. But they don’t, and it doesn’t, and so there’s no war.

In 2001, nearly 3,000 people tragically lost their lives in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and nearly 290,000 people tragically lost their lives to cancer. In 2003, the government allocated $54 billion to the Iraq war, and about $3 billion to cancer research. More than 3 million U.S. citizens have died from cancer since 2003, yet total funding for cancer research from 2003 to the present doesn’t equal that 2003 Iraq war allocation. There’s no war on cancer. It’s barely a skirmish.

So it’s left to ordinary citizens to go to battle for their loved ones. Marion County joined the fray this Saturday by participating in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Some were cancer survivors, some were their family and friends, some walked in memory of loved ones. All were foot soldiers in the battle to save lives, and as the term has come to be used, that makes all of them heroes.

As they walked, about 400 people in the U.S. died of cancer. We don’t have the collective will as a nation to fight a full-scale war against this treacherous killer, and unless something changes, I doubt we ever will.

That makes the Relay for Life and other such efforts even more important; local communities stepping up and stepping out, bringing hope to what often seems a hopeless battle. The cure that’s somewhere “out there” gets closer with each step. For that, they deserve our recognition and thanks.

– David colburn

Last modified Oct. 23, 2014

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