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At Cancer Moonshot Summit, NBTS Shows How We #CanServe

Back on May 25th, Vice President Joe Biden called for a national Cancer Moonshot Summit to take place on June 29th, which he would lead in Washington, DC. He also asked that groups involved with cancer research host “regional” satellite summits in their communities to amplify the power of the DC gathering. This would be the first time in the Cancer Moonshot Initiative process that the White House created a call to action for individuals and organizations in the cancer community to convene at the same time under the national charge to double the rate of progress to end cancer as we know it.

Newton Viewing
NBTS staff, supporters, and guest gathered to watch the Cancer Moonshot Summit outside Boston.

NBTS was one of the 270 groups – across all 50 states – to answer the call to action, and host our own regional ‘Summit Viewing Event’ at our main offices in Massachusetts with a number of volunteers, supporters, and staff. Together, we joined more than 6,000 people across the country today that took part in the Cancer Moonshot Summit efforts.

We were also fortunate to have our CEO, David Arons, who is currently serving on the Blue Ribbon Panel of experts that was selected to advise the greater Cancer Moonshot Initiative, participating in the D.C. event along with three brain tumor survivors and advocates, to represent the brain cancer community among all the luminaries, including the vice president, himself, gathered at the main event in our nation’s capital.

These summits brought together cancer researchers, advocates, supporters, survivors, patients, caregiver, physicians, business leaders, and philanthropists to discuss how cancer affects them, the goals of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative (to double the pace of progress against cancer), share input and ideas for the Moonshot Initiative, generate plans for how individuals and organizations can better engage in the national effort, and generate commitments for new collaborations and action.

Brain tumor patient/survivors Michael and Jaclyn at the Cancer Moonshot Summit in D.C. as NBTS guests.

“We’re trying to build new momentum, new sense of urgency, and a new attitude,” Vice President Biden said in a conference call wrapping up all the Summits. “There is urgency to everything we’re doing.”

Following a live-stream of the Vice President’s opening remarks from D.C., the assembled NBTS staff and guests at our headquarter just outside of Boston engaged in a lively and robust discussion about many of the themes of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative and the Cancer Moonshot Summit. A lot of tremendous ideas, input, and feedback were put forth, which NBTS will provide directly to the Office of the Vice President and the Cancer Moonshot Taskforce. Highlights include:

  • “The Moonshot really needs to go outside the box; outside the system – be radical. Get hyper-creative people involved in this effort.”
  • “The Moonshot should focus on more risk-taking in research funding. We need to be willing to take and make ‘big bets.’ We learn from risks, even in failure – risks are not a waste of money. In the least, it would empower scientists by letting them be more creative in their grant applications.”
  • “Finding the right trial for an individual patient is very difficult. The Moonshot should focus on clinical trials and helping make it easier for patients to find the right trials, including arming them and their caregivers with knowledge, as well as community physicians. We should also dispel of the notion that clinical trials are only in the case of the last resort. You often access the most cutting-edge, emerging new therapies via clinical trials.”

Yet, importantly, the Cancer Moonshot leaders did not want these Summits to be just all talk and no action. Biden and the rest of his Moonshot Taskforce knew that to capitalize on the unprecedented participation in the Summit efforts, there needed to be a strong answer to the proverbial question of, “so now what?” that often crops up at the end of intensive days of discussion. So even before the Summits kicked off on the morning of the 29th, participation groups, like NBTS, were asked to make a new commitment that would align with the Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s ideals and principles and help reach the collective goal of doubling the rate of progress against all cancers in five-years – achieving in five-years what would normally take ten.

The context in which NBTS made our commitment came from the Moonshot’s inquest: We often talk about Cancer as something that happens to us. It’s time for US to happen to Cancer. The Cancer Moonshot is a mission, and all of us #CanServe. How will you make a difference, break down barriers to progress, or catalyze change where you live and work? What commitment can you make?

As such, NBTS made a ‪#‎CanServe‬ commitment to launch a major education and engagement initiative to help support patient-centered research and drug development; empower patients to play an active role in the research and treatment process; and improve brain tumor clinical trials through better awareness, enrollment, and patient-input.

> Read the full text of our commitment as part of the White House’s press release
> Read more about how we got to this commitment in our blog, as part of the Cancer Moonshot publication on Medium

This commitment is inline with the Cancer Moonshot Initiative’s focus on increasing access to clinical trials. It is also critical to supporting NBTS’ current initiatives like the Defeat GBM Research Collaborative, which intends to produce a number of candidate therapies for potential clinical trials. In order for potentially new and effective treatments emerging from this and other initiatives to make it to the market for patients, the brain cancer field must have well-designed and large clinical trials. These two necessities require patient participation.

(L-R) NBTS CEO David Arons at the national Cancer Moonshot Summit in Washington, DC. with brain tumor patients/survivors Jaclyn, Michael, and Andrew

Guests on hand at the NBTS Summit discussed participating in NBTS Walks, Races, and Rides in the Fall, as well as attending our upcoming Gray Gala and Scientific Summit, as their commitments to getting more involved in our organization’s efforts to find better treatments, and – ultimately – a cure for brain tumors.

So that is how NBTS #CanServe. How can you #CanServe?

You don’t need to work for a nonprofit or charity organization; be a researcher or doctor; work for a biopharmaceutical company; or work in government to make a commitment and a difference. Brain tumor patients, survivors, caregivers, advocates, volunteers, and donors can all make a pledge to do what they can in their communities to help the Cancer Moonshot reach its goal. Your support matters!

“The Moonshot cannot be achieved by one person, one organization, one disciple, or even one collective approach,” Vice President Biden said. “Solving the complexities of cancer will require the formation of new alliances to defy the bounds of innovation and accelerate the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and – ultimately – a cure. It’s going to require millions of Americans speaking up and contributing what they’re able. That’s what the Cancer Moonshot Summit is all about.”

Here are just a few examples of#CanServe commitments anyone in the brain tumor community can make:

  • Share my experiences and support for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative on social media
  • Help explain to, and educate, others outside the community what the Cancer Moonshot Initiative is, and what it is trying to accomplish
  • Raise awareness about brain cancer and the need for research
  • Provide new funding to advance cancer research and care for patients

Are you ready to make a #CanServe commitment? If so please share with us in the comments here, or on social media using the #CanServe hastag:

Finally, as the Vice President said in his wrap-up remarks, “We are not done after today. This is just the start…I, like all of you, am in it for the long haul.”

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