National Cancer Moonshot Regional Summit

Directors at Moonshot Summit
Dr. Ned Sharpless, Dr. Boris Pasche and Dr. Mike Kastan.

Last Wednesday June 29th, more than 70 people gathered at the William and Ida Friday Center in Chapel Hill, 300 miles from Washington, DC, for the North Carolina Cancer Summit. Hosted by UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duke Cancer Institute and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, the event attracted physicians, researchers and nurses from the three institutions, representatives from area patient advocacy groups and funding organizations, healthcare providers, and cancer survivors.


I felt so fortunate to be included.  As the video started, a hush fell over the audience. Carol Burnett opened by illuminating the need to share any and all information. And she reminded us that if we fight together, we can have a world without cancer. The hush continued throughout Vice President Joe Biden's presentation, his moving personal story, and his call for action. And while the room was silent, there also were moments of laughter and moments of tears. Both Burnett and Vice President Biden know cancer all too well having each lost a child to the disease. Every person in the room also could identify with the importance of this as we all have holes in our hearts from having lived or been touched by cancer. Vice President Biden demonstrated incredible bravery by challenging us to imagine the world, not as it is but as it should be.  A world without cancer. Moonshot represents that world. It also represents working together and finding the courage to stand up and do what’s right. We can’t continue to operate in silos. People are dying and it’s up to all of us to help lead this journey. And we don’t have time to waste.   He is calling for action and accomplishments over the next five years by working together with the tools we have now, not just planning for breakthroughs and new scientific discoveries 20 years in the future.  Those will come, but he feels passionately that better communication and collaboration now can make an enormous impact very quickly.  That is his goal.


I am grateful for UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center leading this initiative in our region and am especially grateful for our own UNC faculty, researchers, physicians and nurses who were in attendance for they are the true leaders in cancer care. Thank you to Ned Sharpless, Lisa Carey, Barbara Rimer, the panel’s patient survivor, Carl Fox, and all who played a role in hosting this regional summit. I have lived with cancer both as an oncology nurse who has worked in cancer since 1994, as a caregiver, and now as a cancer survivor. This is an exciting time to be alive.  Thank you for giving us this opportunity because it means everything to our cancer patients and their families who are affected by this disease.  We have every reason to hope together!

Written by Jean Sellers, RN, MSN