Cancer survivors including gulf war hero Norman Schwarzkopf and former junk bond king Michael Milken led a massive march on Washington on Saturday, urging billions more dollars be spent on fighting the disease.
"This is not just a noon rally for efforts to fight cancer," Vice President Al Gore, whose sister died of cancer, told the massive crowd assembled at the base of the U.S. Capitol. "This marks high noon for cancer. We are determined."Thousands turned out on the national Mall to press Congress and the White House to increase funding for efforts to cure the disease, expected to kill nearly 570,000 Americans this year.
Gore said the United States formally declared war on cancer over a century ago. "Well, we are here today 'cause we want to be the generation that wins that war," Gore told the rally, which also featured singers Aretha Franklin and Michael Bolton and supermodel Cindy Crawford.
Television newscaster Sam Donaldson said, "We spend on one B-2 bomber as much as we, as a government, spend on cancer research a year."
"We can do better," said Donaldson, who said he has been cancer free for over three years since being diagnosed with a melanoma tumor in the lymph node of his right groin in 1995.
In his weekly radio address Saturday, President Clinton urged Congress to pass a number of health and research measures he has proposed, including a five-year 65 percent increase in cancer research funding.
"We must never stop searching for the best means of prevention, the most accurate diagnostic tools, the most effective and humane treatments - and someday soon, a cure," Clinton said.
Cancer's annual death toll in the United States is second only to heart disease. The American Cancer Society estimates 564,800 Americans will die of cancer this year, and 1.2 million new cases will be diagnosed.