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First Response to my pathetic flurry of letters to congress


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A while ago I sent off letters to my senators and congressmen, asking for their support of increased appropriations for lc and giving them the vital statistics (don't think vital is the right word, somehow --maybe morbid would be more appropriate) about the depressing ratio between lc deaths and lc spending in comparison with other cancers.

There has been a deafening silence -- everyone on vacation, I suppose -- but today i received this from Joe Lieberman, something of a "canned" response, I think, but still one with that rather tepid paragraph that begins with "Please be assured that I will convey to my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee ". At least that's something, although it certainly doesn't sound as if he's going to be out there on the hustings raising consciousness of and support for lung cancer victims, detection and treatment, but...what did I expect?


September 9, 2004

Thank you for contacting me in support of increased federal funding for

lung cancer research, early detection, improved treatments, and prevention


According to the American Lung Association (ALA), lung cancer is the

leading cancer killer in both men and women. An estimated 169,400 new

cases of lung cancer and an estimated 154,900 deaths from lung cancer

occurred in the United States during 2002. It is also the most

preventable form of cancer. Smoking tobacco products accounts for about

87 percent of lung cancers.

There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and

small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common.

It usually spreads to different parts of the body more slowly than small

cell lung cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell

carcinoma are three types of non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung

cancer, also called oat cell cancer, accounts for about 20 percent of all

lung cancer. Because each of these types of cancer grows and spreads in

different ways, each is treated differently.

According to ALA, symptoms of lung cancer may include: cough that does

not go away and gets worse over time; chest pain; shortness of breath,

wheezing, or hoarseness; weight loss and loss of appetite; coughing up

blood; fever without a known reason; and repeated problems with pneumonia

or bronchitis. Although these symptoms may be signs of another, less

serious, illness, people exhibiting these symptoms should be seen by a

physician if they persist.

Quitting smoking, or not starting at all, is by far the best way to help

prevent the occurrence of lung cancer since smoking is the number one

cause of this disease. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 different

chemicals, many of which are proven cancer-causing substances, or

carcinogens. Smoking cigars or pipes also increases the risk of lung


According to ALA, ahe greater the length of time and quantity someone

smokes, the greater their risk for contracting lung cancer. However, if

they stop smoking, their risk of lung cancer decreases each year as normal

cells replace abnormal cells. After ten years, the risk drops to a level

that is one-third to one-half of the risk for people who continue to

smoke. In addition, quitting smoking greatly reduces the risk of

developing other smoking-related diseases, such as heart disease, stroke,

emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.

Many of the chemicals in tobacco smoke also affect nonsmokers inhaling

the smoke, making "secondhand smoking" another important cause of lung

cancer. It is responsible for approximately 3,000 lung cancer deaths and

as many as 50,000 deaths from heart disease annually.

Individuals should also investigate any cancer-causing chemicals they may

be exposed to at work and take appropriate measures to protect themselves.

Asbestos is a well-known, work-related substance that can cause lung

cancer; but there are many others, including uranium, arsenic, and certain

petroleum products. Other jobs that may involve exposure relate to those

that work with certain types of insulation, work in coke ovens, and

repairing brakes. When exposure to job-related carcinogens is combine

with smoking, the risk of getting lung cancer is sharply increased.

Because radon is considered to be the second leading cause of lung cancer

in the U.S. today, monitoring indoor radon levels, especially in the home,

may also protect against lung cancer. Radon gas can come up through the

soil under a home or building and enter through gaps and cracks in the

foundation or insulation, as well as through pipes, drains, walls, or

other openings. Radon is estimated to cause between 15,000 and 22,000

lung cancer deaths each year in the U.S. – 12 percent of all lung cancer

deaths are linked to radon. Because you cannot see or smell radon, the

only way to detect exposure to the gas is by measuring radon levels.

Exposure to radon in combination with cigarette smoking greatly increases

the risk of lung cancer.

Furthermore, many other recent studies suggest that particulate matter

pollution can cause lung cancer. Particulate matter is composed of small

solid and liquid particles suspended in ambient air, including dust, dirt,

soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Some particles are directly emitted

into the air. They come from a variety of sources such as cars, trucks,

buses, factories, construction sites, tilled fields, unpaved roads, stone

crushing, and burning of wood, among others. Other particles may be

formed in the air from the chemical change of gases. The chemical change

of gases is indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with

sunlight and water vapor. These can result from fuel combustion in motor

vehicles, at power plants, and in other industrial processes. Research

studies have associated exposure to elevated levels of these particles in

the air with damaging health effects, including increased hospital

admissions and emergency room visits for people with heart and lung


Because symptoms often do not appear until the disease has spread, early

detection remains difficult. Many early lung cancers are diagnosed

incidentally, meaning that they are found as a result of tests performed

for an unrelated medical condition. If a doctor suspects lung cancer, he

or she will do a physical exam and a health-related interview to check for

risk factors and symptoms. Tests such as a chest x-ray, analysis of cells

in the phlegm, and biopsy may also be ordered.

Treatment to remove cancerous tumors and chemotherapy and radiation

therapy, either in combination or alone, are the common treatments,

depending on the type of cancer and the stage.

The number of Americans who get lung cancer is decreasing, primarily due

to the decrease in adult smoking over the past 30 years. However, smoking

among teens and pre-teens has increased in recent years, raising the

potential for increased lung cancer rates in the future. Clearly, we need

to do a much better job of educating young Americans about the link

between smoking and lung cancer.

Medical research is vital in the study of diseases and essential to the

ultimate discovery of cures for these illnesses. Since research efforts

are painstaking and costly endeavors, it is imperative that the federal

government provide funding at levels that enable these critical efforts to


The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is a component of the National

Institutes of Health (NIH), one of eight agencies that compose the Public

Health Service in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NCI,

established under the National Cancer Act of 1937, is the federal

government's principal agency for cancer research and training. The

National Cancer Act of 1971 broadened the scope and responsibilities of

NCI and created the National Cancer Program. Over the years, legislative

amendments have added new information dissemination mandates, as well as a

requirement to assess the incorporation of state-of-the-art cancer

treatments into clinical practice.

NCI coordinates the National Cancer Program, which conducts and supports

research, training, health information dissemination, and other programs

with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of cancer,

rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing care of cancer patients and

the families of cancer patients.

I have been a consistent advocate of critical biomedical research efforts

carried out by NIH. By expanding our knowledge of human diseases, we can

help reduce health care costs by discovering more effective treatments and

learning how to prevent the onset of serious illnesses. I consider

biomedical research to be a fundamental component of a preventive care

approach to health care reform.

Researchers are continuing studies with the goal of helping people quit

smoking through counseling, nicotine replacement, and other medications.

They are also studying ways to convince young people not to start smoking.

Studies continue to test ways of preventing lung cancer in people at high

risk by improving their diet and using vitamins or medications.

Everyone – whether they smoke or not – can reduce their risk of lung

cancer by eating a healthy, balanced diet with at least five servings of

fruits and vegetables every day.

Other researchers are testing ways to make early lung cancer detection

possible. These include using new technology, such as computed tomography

(CT) scans and evaluating new tests that identify DNA changes in lung

cancer cells.

In addition, many clinical trials are in progress to test new

chemotherapy drugs and drug combinations. Also, according to the American

Cancer Society, a growing number of researchers are investigating gene

therapy's potential for preventing or treating lung cancer.

Please be assured that I will convey to my colleagues on the Senate

Appropriations Committee your support for an adequate level of funding for

vital research efforts related to the prevention and treatment of lung

cancer during this year's appropriations process. The health and

well-being of America's citizens depend upon these efforts.

My official Senate web site is designed to be an on-line office that

provides access to constituent services, Connecticut-specific information,

and an abundance of information about what I am working on in the Senate

on behalf of Connecticut and the nation. I am pleased to let you know

that I have launched an email news alert service through my web site. You

can sign up for any number of topic-specific email news alerts by visiting

http://lieberman.senate.gov and clicking on the "Subscribe Email News

Alerts" button at the bottom of the home page. I hope this service is

informative and useful.

Thank you again for letting me know your views and concerns. Please

contact me if you have any additional questions or comments about our work

in Congress.


Joe Lieberman


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Canned , yes. AT first when I was reading your post I thought it was the letter that you sent him, but then I realized it was "his " response to you. It looks like he got ( or someone in his office) this off a web site then added a little, and signed it. Did you see that show last night. Looks like Senator McCain was real interested in 97' when he wrote that bill that President Clinton killed on how to use the tobacco money and put tobacco under federal regulations. Donna G

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That's great! I do find it kind of funny that the letter tells you about lung cancer as if you don't sorrily know by now. Oh welll, as long as the words "lung cancer" get brought to the forefront of enough reps' minds, it's good and maybe HE learned some things about LC.

Way to go, Joe and Ellen


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It doesn't sound to me like your letter was actually read, just key points ("lung cancer") picked out and then the form letter sent to you. Were your letter read, the person replying to you wouldn't have sent you all that crap you already know so well...

Just an opinion, obviously your letter WAS received and opened...as opposed to mine that was never sent. (I know, bad, gotta get on that)

Take care,


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Ellen, I have to agree with Donna. It looks as though someone pulled all this stuff you already know (Hello!!) and pasted it into a form letter.. I bet Lieberman didnt even set eyes on your letter. Maybe you should write another and demand a responsive letter and not a form letter. I realize these people are busy, however if they arent there for the common people, then what are they there for? Just my thoughts.....


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I know how you feel. About a year ago, I sent a letter to NJ Governer, Jim McGreevey (hold the jokes please....) asking him to push through the smoking ban in restaurants in NJ. I received the same type of "canned" response that talked about smoking stats and things that really had nothing to do with my letter. It also ended up putting me on a mailing list and from time to time I get letters from the Governer's office, reminding me to donate blood. Uh... :roll:

We just have to keep trying!

Ever hear that expression "The squeaky wheel gets the grease"?????

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There are ways to get a personal response that almost always work. I think I posted on this before. I have never gotten a canned response but so far with LC I haven't known yet exactly what I want to ask someone to do. So I have only written on the behalf of others. And since I was not a consiturent in those matters I got no response, yet.

However, not getting a canned response does not mean you will get what you want but it does mean you might get their attention.

I mostly think that unless there is someting specific to your own personal needs that a rep can actually address, writing a congressperson is not as useful as writing the media. It does help however is there is a specific bill coming up that he or she has to vote on. In the case of no bill, writing to ANY Senator, who you think may be incline to introduce legislation is good--no matter if you live in his or her state or not. But if there is no bill pending that will increase funding, then .....

Congresspeople read and respond to what is in the the media, local media too and especially at election time.

I feel like I am rambling, but please people, don't give up.


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I agree with everything everyone has said here. Quite obviously copied from a blurb -- in fact, a lot of it is identical to some of the stuff that I sent HIM! I wonder about the IQ of the average senate staffer -- seems that they could do a little better job of pretending to be responding directly.

I will keep trying. I'm going to write to him again, and I have a neighbour who actually knows him, so I'm going to see what that brings. Won't give up but I think in the midst of this year's campaign, a lot of things are going to get overlooked.


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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest bean_si (Not Active)

Submitted to Lieberman through his web site. There was no mention of any names or lchelp.

"I have just read your response to one of your constituents. This was posted on a lung cancer support site. Your CONSTITUENT had written you asking that you help (as in take action) to gain funding for lung cancer research. She stated the abysmal and accurate ratio between low funding for lc research and the high deaths.

Your response? You probably don't know so I will tell you. It was a bevy of facts concerning research, deaths, causes of lc. My oh my, I would surely guess she already knew this. You could have just have easily filled the page with "yada yada yada". Maybe you could try that the next time. It might saved a second or two of your precious time.

Sorry to be so critical of you but I'm dying from the disease as will thousands of others; many, like me, who have never smoked or quit years ago. My time is also precious. I'm angry and am disturbed by your canned response (read no response). What are you doing? DOING as in ACTION. Is that canned response the best you CAN do?

Don't ignore me. I won't go away until I die and as far as I'm concerned my death will partially at your hands.

CAN you understand that, hmmmm?

You have my address so might I ask that you address me and my concerns which (and you know this, don't you) reflect that of many of your constituents.

We're waiting with bated breath but not a great deal of hope."

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WOW, Cat! I'm impressed. I can't wait to see what sort of a response you get. I've been thinking about my next move -- was planning to work through someone I know who was very active in state wide politics and who knows Lieberman AND Dodd very well; in the meantime, I'm going to continue to bombard everyone with variations on the same theme with an opening pointing out that I already KNOW the facts about lung cancer; now I want to know what they are going to do about it.

And by the way, I'm glad you've survived the hurricanes so far -- hope that's it for this year!


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