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I Live to Conquer Cancer: Campaign Shines Spotlight on Federally Funded Cancer Researchers

Nov 07, 2018

Progress against cancer requires strong, continued support for NIH and NCI

Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI) has enabled medical advances that have delivered longer, healthier lives for millions of people in the United States and around the world. Thanks in large part to federal investments in biomedical research, cancer death rates are down by 25% since the early 1990s, and there have been dramatic improvements in quality of life for patients. Federal research funding has also brought about a revolution in our understanding of cancer, generating precise and effective treatments increasingly targeted to each person’s tumor type, genetics, and treatment tolerance.

As the 2018 fiscal year came to a close, Congress passed a 5.4% increase for NIH in its 2019 budget, following significant funding increases in 2017 and 2018. ASCO commends lawmakers for making a down payment on the future of cancer care by boosting funding for NIH and NCI. However, despite this progress, NCI’s budget remains lower than it was before the 2008 recession when adjusted for inflation. A longstanding national commitment to support scientific discovery is needed to conduct clinical trials and attract and retain talented cancer researchers.

ASCO has been closely monitoring the NIH and NCI budgets for many years, and has observed grave indicators that progress against cancer is threatened by a chronically underfunded federal research enterprise: Only 12% of new research proposals were funded by NCI in 2015, compared to 27% in 2001,1 and the number of primarily funded NIH studies presented at the ASCO Annual Meeting dropped a staggering 75% between 2008 and 2017.

As the global population ages, new cancer cases are set to rise by more than 50% between now and 2030.2 This growing cancer burden demands an increased treatment response, and even greater investment in cancer research. ASCO has long advocated on Capitol Hill for robust federal funding for research, but this year it is undertaking a new communications and outreach campaign, “I Live to Conquer CancerTM,” to further strengthen support among Members of Congress for NIH and NCI.

Through a series of compelling videos, written stories, advertising, and social media, the “I Live to Conquer Cancer” campaign is giving a voice to individual researchers whose work is made possible by federal funding, and the patients who are living longer, better lives as a result of U.S. investment in cancer research.

“Our goal is to demonstrate to lawmakers how vital federal funding is for people awaiting cancer cures by shining a spotlight on the researchers who have devoted their lives to clinical cancer research, as well as the patients who inspire them to continue making progress against cancer,” said ASCO CEO Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO.

Get Involved in the Campaign

It is essential that Congress continue to hear widespread, vocal support for federally funded cancer research. ASCO invites the entire cancer community to get involved in the campaign by viewing and sharing the videos and stories published on asco.org/live-to-conquer-cancer, as well as by sharing your own story with ASCO, on social media, and with your Congressional representatives.

Tell the Story of Why You Live to Conquer Cancer

After you read or watch the stories of the first researchers highlighted in the “I Live to Conquer Cancer” campaign, ASCO invites you to share your own story of why you live to conquer cancer. You can tell us about the patients, moments, research, and experiences that inspire you:

  • Record a short video, upload it to YouTube, and send the link to ASCO. Videos may be shared on ASCO.org and on ASCO’s social media channels.

  • Write a short blog post and send the story to ASCO. Posts may be shared in ASCO Connection and on ASCO’s social media channels.

“The stories that we’ve posted represent just a fraction of our members’ experiences, and we want to give as many members as possible the opportunity to tell policymakers and the public why you live to conquer cancer, and why federal funding is so vital to future progress,” Dr. Hudis said. “Your stories are the most compelling ones that we can share. They’re the ones that make the biggest difference when we’re on Capitol Hill.”

Read the inspiring personal stories shared by researchers.

Amplify the Campaign on Social Media

Social media provides a powerful opportunity to amplify the reach of the “I Live to Conquer Cancer” campaign and raise public awareness of NCI’s important role in advancing cancer research.

ASCO has created a social media toolkit with relevant hashtags, sample Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn posts, shareable graphics, social media tips and guidance, and additional resources about federal funding and cancer research. Visit asco.org/live-to-conquer-cancer to download the toolkit.

These are just a few ways to get involved in the campaign on social media and encourage lawmakers to continue to invest in NIH and NCI:

  • Respond to the question “Why do you live to conquer cancer?” using the hashtag #LiveToConquerCancer.
  • After watching the researcher stories at youtube.com/ascocancer, share the videos with your social media followers.
  • Post your own video about why you live to conquer cancer on social media, using the hashtag #LivetoConquerCancer and tagging @ASCO (Twitter) or @ASCOCancer (Facebook and Instagram).
  • Share statistics and infographics about NCI-backed cancer advances. Sharable graphics are included in ASCO’s social media toolkit.
  • Thank Members of Congress for supporting NCI funding.
  • Follow others who are active in conversations about federal research funding. Find a list of suggested accounts to follow at twitter.com/ASCO/lists.
  • Ask your followers to use ASCO’s ACT Network to tell their representatives in Congress to support NCI funding.

Advocate for Federal Research Funding

You don’t have to be a policy wonk to participate in political advocacy: ASCO’s ACT Network website makes it easy to urge your elected officials to support NIH and NCI so that dedicated researchers can continue to make lifesaving discoveries.

“On Capitol Hill, our collective voices will send the strongest possible message that now is the time to invest more, not less, in cancer research,” Dr. Hudis said.

When you sign in to the ACT Network, you’ll find a personalized portal that provides detailed profiles of your state and federal lawmakers. You can learn about your legislators’ issue priorities, recent legislative activities, and voting record, and connect with them by sending a message, calling their office, or scheduling a visit, all from a single page. The ACT Network offers tools to participate in Twitter campaigns, comment on regulation, and send messages to the White House, among other opportunities.

The site features action alerts with background information on today’s key policy issues and pre-drafted messages that can be sent to elected officials with a single click. In addition to national issues, some alerts are targeted to specific states or districts, allowing advocates to move the needle on issues critical to their local area and lawmakers.


  1. National Institutes of Health: Research Project Success Rates by NIH Institute. https://report.nih.gov/success_rates/Success_ByIC.cfm. Accessed Sep 12, 2018.
  2. American Cancer Society: Global Cancer Facts & Figures 3rd Edition. https://www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/global-cancer-facts-andfigures/global-cancer-facts-and-figures-3rd-edition.pdf. Accessed Sep 12, 2018.
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