Carney, special guest answer call for cancer awareness

Samantha Gustafson found writing therapeutic in the months after losing her husband. For the first six months she paced the house while Brett’s dog, Rascal, slept under his clothes in the closet. (Delaware State News/K.I. White)

Harrington’s Samantha Gustafson will accompany U.S. Sen. John C. Carney, D-Del., to this week’s State of the Union Address in Washington. (Delaware State News/K.I. White)

DOVER — A familiar name to our readers will be on the guest list for President Obama’s State of the Union address this week.

Just last Sunday in the Delaware State News, we had an update on Samantha Gustafson who has been a champion of cancer prevention and detection since her husband’s death.

She will attend the president’s address Tuesday with Rep. John Carney, D-Del.

From the Editor logo copy copy“I am so humbled seeing how our story can help others and thankful that God is able to take pain and loss and use it for good,” said Ms. Gustafson in a statement released by the congressman’s office. “We don’t have many choices about what life can hand us, especially where cancer is concerned. And although many times our choices are made for us in life, there are some we can make; such as choosing to make a difference and help others by spreading awareness about early detection and prevention, but most importantly spreading kindness and compassion.”

Last week’s story on Ms. Gustafson centered on her new book, “The Prayer of a Single Mom.”

If you missed the story, you can now find it at delawarestatenews.net.

Ms. Gustafson’s husband, Brett, died of melanoma just before Christmas 2013. He was 28.

He was a farmer in the Harrington area. He and Samantha, a teacher at W. Reily Brown Elementary in Dover, have two sons.

Rep. Carney said he was heeding the call of Vice President Joe Biden, asking the country to make a stand against cancer.

“Each and every day, Americans face the fear, anger, and grief that encompass the fight against cancer,” said Rep. Carney. “Samantha’s story is an example of what we can do. It takes a very special person to go through such an unspeakable tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to serve others.”

Vice President Biden’s son Beau died of cancer in late May.

After months of speculation and consideration, Vice President Biden announced in late October that he would not run for president. Cancer, as a priority for his final months in office, was on his mind.

“I believe we need a moonshot in this country to cure cancer,” Vice President Biden said that day. “It’s personal. But I know we can do this. The president and I have already been working hard on increasing funding for research and development — because there are so many breakthroughs just on the horizon in science and medicine.

“The things that are just about to happen, we can make them real with an absolute national commitment to end cancer as we know it today. And I’m going to spend the next 15 months in this office pushing as hard as I can to accomplish this. Because I know there are Democrats and Republicans on the Hill who share our passion — our passion to silence this deadly disease. If I could be anything, I would want it to be the president that ended cancer, because it’s possible.”

On his list of major goals last year, President Obama called for funding for the Precision Medicine Initiative that would initially focus on cancer.

Congress approved $215 million in the budget to fund it.

It will be interesting to see if President Obama, in his final State of the Union address, outlines additional initiatives in this year’s address. The speech starts at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

***

It was interesting to hear the NBC affiliate WVIT (Connecticut) interview with Vice President Biden a few days ago.

He mentioned he was enjoying the “real robust” debate that Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders “as there would have been if I had gotten involved in the race.”

The news anchor asked him about his decision not to run.

“I regret it every day,” he replied, “but it was the right decision for my family and for me.”

She offered condolences at the end.

“A lot of people have been through what I’ve been through with a lot less help,” he said.

***

As you’ll see in another article in today’s edition, we’re gearing up for coverage of the General Assembly.

Lawmakers return to work Tuesday. A hot item from the start will be legislators hoping to override Gov. Jack Markell’s veto of testing opt-out legislation.

Gov. Markell will deliver his final State of the State address on Jan. 21.

He will unveil his proposed state operating budget on Jan. 28.

Reach Executive Editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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