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Monday, July 04, 2016

Cancer, a Moonshot and Vice President Joe Biden

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Catching my breath after a crazy week and busy weekend. I had the opportunity to participate in the Cleveland Cancer Moonshot Summit on Wednesday. Here's a link to the discussion.
As a follow-up to the Summit, Vice President Biden came to Cleveland on Thursday to offer his support for our efforts and to learn more about cancer screenings in under-served communities. I was invited both by his office and by the summit organizers at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center

So I arrived at the Langston Hughes Family Health Center without really knowing what to expect. I was given a wristband and told I would be getting a photo with the Vice President. I was also told there was a seat with my name on it. Inside, I found my seat and checked with Secret Service to make sure it was OK to Tweet. (It was.) And then we waited. About an hour later, a young staffer got those of us getting our photos taken organized and lined up.

As they began organizing the line and double-checking names, pronunciations and titles, I started to wonder if maybe I wasn't on the list after all. Finally, after Dr. Stan Gerson (who was introducing the Veep) and Dr. Brian Bolwell, they told me I was last. And I was being introduced by someone from Biden's office.

So we waited some more and then I caught a glimpse of him coming into the room where photos were being taken. The line moved quickly and after Dr. Bolwell walked away, I looked at the Vice President and he knew who I was right away. I got a big hug (several, actually) and he asked how I was feeling.

I've interviewed a former President and done my share of high-profile interviews, but I'll be the first to admit that I completely geeked out meeting Joe Biden. Can't wait to see what the official photo looks like, hopefully my mouth isn't open too big. :)
After his remarks, he came along the rope line, where I was located and I got one more hug before he left for interviews. I talked to a lot of people afterward who asked if I knew the Vice President. I wouldn't say I know him, but I certainly felt that he knows well the struggle of all cancer patients.

The conversations that resulted from the Summit are encouraging. There's a lot of talk about technology, streamlining the underbrush of regulations and improving access to care for all. From what I saw here in Cleveland, we have the right people in the room.

I know there are naysayers, but what this effort means to me is hope. And for cancer patients, hope is everything.

On that note, my surgery is finally scheduled for July 27th.