When we at NCI set out early this year to join with the broader cancer community to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Cancer Act of 1971, we were worried. Our plans to reflect on five decades of progress in cancer while a global pandemic raged on might be seen as ill-timed. Perhaps some are still dubious.
But I believe that our focus on this important history—especially how our nation’s investment in cancer science has transformed the way we understand and confront the disease—has provided inspiration and direction in a time of unrest and upheaval and uncertainty.
Reflecting on the work of unsung heroes and changemakers whose creativity and determination opened doors to new possibilities helped remind us of the power of innovation, the power of unwavering commitment, and most importantly the power of the cancer community.
Reflecting on advances in so many aspects of cancer research and care helped remind us what we can accomplish when we work together toward a shared vision.
Reflecting on how the programs and resources and infrastructure that were built thanks to the National Cancer Act have endured and evolved to meet new opportunities helped remind us that we can build on solid foundations to deliver on changing needs.
Those reminders are vital as we embark on what is next, for our reflections have also reminded us of what we all already knew: that we have a long way to go. We must develop better approaches to prevention and early detection, more effective and less toxic therapies, more support for families shattered by a cancer diagnosis; better care for survivors. And we must ensure that the benefits of our work reach everyone.
Reflections on our past may only be stories, but they remind us of the passion, commitment, and possibility that has drawn so many to this work. We stand on their shoulders …I believe that we can indeed end cancer as we know it, and Nothing Will Stop Us.