Curing cancer can be our ‘moon shot’

Felice Gorordo with his mother, Martha ‘Mumu’ Serra Mohr.
Felice Gorordo with his mother, Martha ‘Mumu’ Serra Mohr.

For almost two years, our family struggled to manage my mom's pancreatic cancer and combat it with chemotherapy, radiation, several surgeries — and lots of hope.

On Sunday, Nov. 29, my mom, Martha “Mumu” Serra Mohr, lost her battle to this terrible disease.

Although we are not experts on cancer, throughout this process we have been blessed to count on the support of many friends in the healthcare industry who have opened doors at leading hospitals including MD Anderson in Houston, Dana Farber in Boston and Miami’s UM Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. Through visiting these centers and meeting with an endless number of doctors and medical researchers, our minds have been blown by how close — and yet how far — we are to finding a cure.

Beyond that, we have witnessed the unintentional and brutal pain patients like my mom incur as a result of archaic — and even new forms of — chemotherapies.

Our generation’s time has come to commit ourselves to accomplish the unthinkable — our “moon shot” — and cure cancer. While there have been valiant efforts to promote greater cancer research, there still remains a need to foster a movement, a real movement like one for civil rights, marriage equality and immigration reform — that moves people to push past the rhetoric and make a real change.

There are numerous cancer organizations dedicated to spreading awareness and raising funds for research. Many of these groups also have credible advocacy efforts to influence public policy. Yet these efforts seem to be splintered and fragmented, lacking the political organizing power to hold policy makers and business interests accountable.

According to the National Institutes of Health, two out of every five men and women will be diagnosed with cancer — and more than 8 million people die every year from the disease. Moreover, cancer affects every family in one way or another — we all know of a loved one diagnosed or deceased from this terrible disease.

Imagine if we could enlist a fraction of the individuals affected by cancer, survivors and caretakers alike. Imagine if we could employ the mobilizing power behind a fraction of the endless cancer charity fundraisers, walks, races, etc. to influence policy, Big Pharma/Big Business and medical research to find a real cure.

We might just be able to do it.

It will take a hardcore organizing movement to align the sometimes-conflicting interests of all relevant stakeholders. One that draws on the best organizing practices of the most effective movements of our time. Think Emily’s List meets NRA Report Card meets Million Man March for curing cancer in the next three to five years.

Crazier things have happened.

We looked up into the heavens and said we would touch the face of God and put a man on the moon — and we did it.

Curing cancer can be our moon shot.

Felice Gorordo is a social entrepreneur. OurMoonShot.org is a movement whose goal is to cure cancer in the next three to five years.