Each and every one of the lectures at the Annual Congress of Inspire2Live 2020 felt revelatory in some way, some because of the science, others because of the passion, or relevance of insight. However there was one that stood out as a summary of the magnificent achievements of science in the past century and also as a prophecy of the decades to come.
Bob Weinberg, with his characteristic humility and profound understanding prepared us for the future, with realism and urgency. There is not going to be a simple solution! Sure, cancer is on a permanent retreat before the advances of science. But the biology is turning out to be much more complex at every significant step, and the treatments are becoming more complex, diverse and expensive at every step as well.
What this means is that we will have to learn to live with cancer present among us in society on a large scale, patients who have cancer, patients who are cured but may be experiencing late effects, and patients who are not cured but who are living long with cancer. All these people, ultimately about 10% of the population, are affected in their quality of life, in their capability to work and to be parents, and in medical support or treatments they require.
Society is going to have to find a new balance, where prevention gets much stronger attention and sustained effort. Not just to maintain quality of personal life and of social coherence but more banally just keep the financial costs manageable. The short term step in this direction will be reducing unnecessary treatment.
He sees the Inspire2Live congresses as unique congregations of many stakeholders who all bring different viewpoints and experiences. He values them as an occasion for mingling.
These words were spoken before the onslaught of the Corona virus brought home to the world what it means to live with a major disease. We can all feel the weight of Bob’s prediction now, not as an intellectual talking point, but as an urgent call to action.
Bob Weinberg is one of the most advanced scientists in the biology of the cancer cell; he has taught most of the other scientists who are active in the field. He is one of the Hero of Cancer laureates 2020 of Inspire2Live.
His summary of his talk is:
Patient Advocate Inspire2Live