Erica Wiley’s Comments National Cancer Prevention Day, US Capitol, Washington DC
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Erica Wiley and I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today and to share my thoughts for Less Cancer.
We live in a great nation where the best medical care is available in the world. Unfortunately none of our medical advances could save my beautiful son, Hugh. My family and I used every method at our disposal – the right specialists, the best treatments, state-of-the art research and technology in the United States and in Europe -and it was just not enough.
And, yes, while this is sad, the sad thing is that Hugh is not the only child who our nation has lost to Cancer. Upon returning for round after round of chemotherapy to the always-too-full pediatric oncology units, we would often learn that other children, some of whom were infants, were no longer with us.
You see… if two-thirds of Cancers result from the environment and children are more susceptible to environmental contaminants than adults, then what is going to occur? As exposures increase, incidences of Cancer in children will increase. This unfortunate trend over the past 20 years is reflected in our nation’s childhood Cancer statistics. And these childhood statistics understate incidences of Cancer as they omit incidences of cancers after the age of 15, omit tumors classified as ‘non-cancerous’ and omit adult cancers resulting from childhood exposure.
In addition, once a child’s genetic, immune and endocrine systems have been damaged or disrupted by exposure to environmental contaminants, it is often impossible to repair those systems, and there will be a percentage of children who will not survive Cancer despite medical treatment.
We make choices everyday: individually, as a society, as a nation and a world. We make choices about what we want in life, from daily choices -what we will eat for breakfast and what stores we will frequent – to policy-making choices – who we will vote for and how we will give back to our communities.
When we see an increasing number of row-after-row of beds with little bald children in them, isn’t it time to make a critical choice?
Do we choose to accept that a growing percentage of our children will have Cancer or tumors …that this will be our new ‘normal’?
Or, are we going to listen to the alarms going off in our heads that tell us that something is “very, very wrong” and, instead, ask our policy makers for something different:
“Wouldn’t it be better to prevent children from getting Cancer in the first place? Isn’t the solution to Cancer to eliminate the cause? Isn’t the solution ‘Prevention’?”
Children do not have a choice. We make choices for them. We make policy choices about what we allow in our children’s food, in their drinking water, in the air that our children breathe.
Cancer just doesn’t ‘happen’ …Cancer happens as a result of the choices we make. Let’s make healthy choices for Less Cancer in children.
I choose to believe that life for children does not have to include Cancer and I ask you to join me in that choice.
This picture can be different. Instead of bald children in hospital beds, let’s choose a picture of children laughing and playing on a playground, running on the beach, graduating from college…never having to visit a hospital.
I am here today to ask each of you to “Please, let us choose that different picture of children, the one with Less Cancer…let us make the choices to reduce risk in our food, our water, our air, our environment.
I am very encouraged to see that we are making choices today to take a critical step toward awareness about reducing risk, supporting healthy choices and encouraging Cancer Prevention.
My heartfelt thanks and congratulations to the honorable Congressman Israel for having the vision and courage to sponsor this resolution for Cancer Prevention Day and to the honorable Congressmen and women who also supported it.
I am also grateful to Less Cancer and to Bill Couzens for all the work that occurs to raise awareness that Cancer does not have to the new norm; and that, by making choices to reduce risk and not accept the status quo, there can be Less Cancer. Bill, I know that this work is hard and, often, hard on your family; but I believe that the work you do will, indeed, result in Less Cancer…so, please, don’t ever stop.
In closing, I would like for all members of our legislature and each of you here today to join me in making the choices for Less Cancer in children…whether related to GMO foods, or the use of chemicals or additives that have no place in children’s food, or how we regulate the use of hazardous substances around water or children, or by creating programs that foster nutrition, health and awareness…can I ask each of you in your daily ritual to ask yourselves…”If I pass this Bill or Amendment…”, “If I write this regulation…”, “If we fund this program…,” “Will it result in more (or less) environmental risk, more (or less) health, more … or Less Cancer?“ We have the power to choose, and our choices will dictate the future for our children.
As we ask ourselves what choices we will make in in our daily lives for Less Cancer, please allow me to introduce Suzie Tobias and Martha Fruehauf who are here to let us know how they are choosing to raise awareness for Less Cancer.