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2001 Larson Lecture
Roger G. Larson Memorial Lecture
American Hospital Association
April 30, 2001
"No Such Thing as a Bad Day"
I'm honored to be here today to speak at the Roger Larson Lecture. I have read the materials on Roger, and I heard some wonderful stories about him at our table and met his son-in-law. I'm privileged to be here to deliver this talk.
John, I want to thank you for that nice, short introduction. I'm going to tell you about something-it may have even been at this hotel-that happened to me in my earlier life in politics. I was invited to speak to the young lawyers section of the American Bar Association. Are there any lawyers here? Don't be embarrassed. We'll just throw food at you if you have the courage to raise your hands. Okay. I don't have to tell this group what Washington is about. All these organizations come to Washington, and they all want to get the President to welcome them and that rarely happens. Then they try to get the Vice President and he's hard to get. Then they try to get the Secretary of State and, if they're fortunate, they end up with someone in the cabinet. I understand Secretary Thompson is here with you today. What usually happens is, they end up with some hack like myself. So you know the drill, everybody comes to you, they spend time in the executive branch and up on the Hill making whatever their points are with the Congress. My job was to go over and welcome these young lawyers in the young lawyers section of the American Bar Association. Of course, the goal is to go over and tell them how great they are and how important they are to the future of the country. So I knew my remarks would not last long. I jotted down about a minute, minute and a half of things that I could say about the lawyers (and only get there by talking very slowly).
I walk in and this young fellow whom I have never seen before in my life stood up to introduce me. The first five or six minutes were kind of funny--he had talked to my mother and he had cute stories about my childhood, and he talked to my high school teacher and to my football coach. After about 10 minutes it was embarrassing, but after about 20 or 25 minutes people in the room were talking and squirming and getting up and leaving. Finally, after 25 minutes were gone--25 minutes--he sat down. I stood up and I told them in 60 seconds what great guys they were and it was over. That was it. I felt some need to acknowledge the hard work this young fellow had invested in this introduction, so I went over to him and stuck out my hand and I said, "I don't know how to thank you for that nice introduction." He looked me right in the eye and he said, "I do. I want to be a federal judge." True story.
So Judge King, thank you for that nice introduction. Short and sweet, I like that. I've seen already four or five hospital administrators here; one from my hometown where I grew up in South Georgia, another gentlemen who was there who later moved to Tallahassee. I feel very welcome here, and I don't feel like I need a translator because it seems like a lot of these people are from the Sunbelt.
One more story, I'll let you decide whether or not this is true or not. This one involves the Holy Father. The Pope was resting in his quarters one Sunday morning, and he was exhausted. The great man is 80 years old and has been shot and his health is not great. So he was taking it easy and reading a little book of poetry, which is one of his favorite habits, when he heard a loud knock on the door and a very agitated Monsieur stuck his head in. The Pope said, "Well, what do you want?" The Monsieur said, "I have a phone call for you." The Pope said, "Well, so what?" The Monsieur said "The person on the phone claims to be the Lord." The Pope had been trying to talk to the Lord all of his life and hardly expected to get a phone call. So he lifted the phone very skeptically, but the instant he heard the booming voice on the end of the phone, he knew that it was the Lord calling him. The Pope was beside himself; he didn't know what to say. He stuttered and hemmed and hawed and finally he said, "Lord, why are you calling me?" The Lord said, "I have some good news for you and some bad news for you, which do you want first?" The Pope by nature is an optimistic fellow and said, "I'll take the good news first." The Lord said, "I've looked down at this earth that I've created and I'm very unhappy with what I see. I look in the Middle East, and I see the Jews and Muslims are still killing one another. I look at Northern Ireland, and Catholics and Protestants are fighting. I look at the United States, and all the religions seem to be fighting and quarreling amongst themselves." So the Lord tells the Pope, "What I have decided to do is start over and have just one religion for the entire world." Well, the Pope is a smart fellow, and he's fast-forwarded and is thinking, "the Lord is calling me to tell me there's going to be one church in the world, it's going to be the Roman Catholic Church and I'm going to be in charge." Then the Pope says to the Lord, "By the way, Lord, what's the bad news?" The Lord replies, "I'm calling you from Salt Lake City."
So my bad news is as I've had three different cancers by age 50. The good news is that I'm able to stand here today and tell you about them. I'm very conscious of the role that you and your institutions play in your communities, and it was suggested that my job here is to maybe put a human face on the people whom you so ably serve. The only way I know to do that is basically to tell you my own story and my own experience with our health system.
When I left Washington in 1980, a more active way to describe it might be to say when the American people asked me to leave by a pretty solid majority, my wife Dorothy and I went back to Atlanta and got married. She much more than myself (she did 95 percent of the work) created one of the first nonprofit camps for children with cancer called Camp Sunshine. We started out in 1982, I think, with 38 kids, and we knew every kid, every diagnosis, every prognosis. It was a one-week summer camp, and now it's a year round camp that touches the lives of thousands of families, largely in Georgia, but in a few other southern states, that have this tragedy afflict their child. Today, we have all the amputees go snow skiing, we bring all the teenagers to Washington, and we have sibling weekends and counseling. Through the lives and through the eyes of these children, we've learned a lot about life.
As well you know in the business that you're in, a cancer is a terrible disease and it's so terrible with children. They not only lose their arms and hair and sometimes their lives, but the problems don't stop there. They go into the classroom and, because of their treatment, they fall behind because they're absent from school or are often ostracized socially because they don't have their hair. In the home settings, often times, all the love and attention and the resources of the family are focused on just that sick child, and it creates problems with the siblings. You ought to see the divorce rate among parents who've lost children to cancer. This disease has so many terrible manifestations, but when these kids go to Camp Sunshine, arms and legs come off and wigs come off. They are all nurtured there together by the example of the other kids. They have someone that's a counselor who had what they have five or six years ago and is doing well. Or they have a counselor who only has one leg who teaches them how to ride horses. And these kids, through this experience, change their attitude, fight harder to live, and sometimes we think do live because of this experience.
I'm going to tell one story; it's always hard for me to tell. I'll see if I can tell it. It's about a young kid named Corey Greer. Corey Greer came to Camp Sunshine the first time when he was 13 years old and it was about 1983 or 1984, I think. Corey had everything; he was a big, good looking black kid. He had an infectious personality, and he was a strong leader with a great sense of humor and was a great athlete. I mean, he just had it all. He also had a very tough tumor in his colon, which he fought valiantly for a couple of years. A few weeks after Camp Sunshine, the year that Corey was 15, he went into Engleston for one of his regular checkups. After the exam was over, the doctors pulled his parents aside and told them that the tumor had started to grow again; the chemo was no longer working. The cancer had spread, and they were going to have to take Corey off the treatment. His parents pushed the doctors for an answer of "how long?" The doctors always say, of course, "we don't know. But we'd be surprised if he could live another couple of months." They tried to keep the sad news from Corey, but Corey was too smart. He knew something was going on, and he pushed his parents and his doctors, and they finally told him. They told him that he wouldn't be alive by Thanksgiving.
Corey looked them in the eye and told them the he didn't care what they said, that he was going to live one more year to go back to Camp Sunshine to tell his friends goodbye and to celebrate his 16th birthday, which happened coincidently to be the same week as Camp Sunshine the following summer. All of us who knew Corey humored him, but we knew that he was not going to last that long. I ask you to imagine this on an athletic field maybe twice as big as this room, 300 or 400 people a year later, standing in the hot Georgia sun holding up homemade Corey Greer signs. Just as Corey had promised, he had lived that extra year to come back to Camp Sunshine to tell us all goodbye. The helicopter flew out from Engleston and landed in the middle of the field. This kid who had weighed maybe 200 to 210 pounds, probably weighed 100 pounds. When the helicopter door was opened, the only way you would have recognized him was the big smile on his face.
The kids lifted Corey out, gave him high fives, hugged him, put him gingerly in the golf cart, surrounded him, and followed him like a Pied Piper down to the mess hall where we had birthday cake and sang songs and told funny stories about Corey. After about an hour or so, you could tell that he was tiring, and it was time for him to go. They carried Corey back up to the field and put him on the helicopter. The instant the helicopter was out of sight, 300 or 400 people in the middle of the field started hugging and crying. Corey went back to Engleston Hospital that night, had birthday cake with his mother and father, his doctors and nurses, and died peacefully in his sleep.
We have seen through the lives and through the example of people like Corey Greer the powers of human spirit to impact on something as terrible as cancer. Now, my mother used to say the Lord moves in mysterious ways, and I consider it damn mysterious that about a year after Corey died, I find out that I have cancer. I'd gone into my family practitioner's office for an annual physical that I'd had every year since I was 30. He also is a dear personal friend, and he sent me over to the hospital for a chest film that he had always done in his office. I knew something was up. I found myself a couple hours later sitting back at his office, and he had these x-rays that he was putting up on a viewer behind his desk and talking to someone on the phone and very obviously did not want me to hear what was being said. He finally turned around and started talking to me in kind of medical gobbledygook, and I finally put my hand on his leg and I said, "Richard, what is it?" He pointed to an x-ray and circled an area of the x-ray and said, "Well, you've got some kind of mass in your chest." I said, "What is it?" and pushed him, but he wouldn't tell me. Finally I said, "Richard, could it be cancer?" He said, "We won't know until they do a biopsy, but I'm afraid it probably is cancer."
I was devastated. When I rode home that day to see my wife and my little boy who at that point was about eight months old, I wondered if I would live to see him grow up or even to reach his first birthday. I went into the hospital, had the biopsy, and found out that I had something called diffuse histiocytic lymphoma, which is something that I'll always believe I probably developed as a result of being in Viet Nam and exposed to Agent Orange. There's a high correlation between returning veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and this disease, as I'm sure you know. They told me initially that my chances were about 20 to 25 percent of being cured--both of having a remission and then holding it for five years. Well, that didn't seem too good to me, but what was I to do about it. So I laid around the hospital for a couple days kind of feeling sorry for myself. It wasn't made easier due to the fact that my mother and sister were there, and they took turns crying while I was lying there. So I was feeling pretty down.
A friend of mine who is a doctor flew in from Savannah, Georgia. He came in and hugged me and asked me the situation, which I described it as best a layperson can tell a doctor a medical situation. He said, "Well you know what you've got to do, don't you?" I said no. He said, "You have got to take charge." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "You've got to be an active partner with your doctors in the medical decisions that are going to be made." And I said "Gee, I mean I'm lying here, I'm not sure I'm going to live, and the statistics aren't very good. I'm worried about Dorothy, I'm worried about my son. What do you mean take charge?" He said, "Well, answer one question for me, Hamilton. Who has the greater stake in the decisions that are going to be made about your treatment than yourself?" The minute he said that I knew that he was right. I got up out of bed that day and I quit feeling sorry for myself and I started to do everything I could do to learn about this disease I had. With the full cooperation of my doctors, I started calling around. I paid an orderly $20 and snuck down to the medical library and started reading about diffuse histiocytic lymphoma. There was much about it I didn't understand, but I understood the seriousness of my disease. I also learned that there were clinical trials going on in other places that had a better prospect of cure than 20 or 25 percent.
One of the places I called was the National Cancer Institute. They had a clinical trial that was about halfway through and, although there were no published results, the word was they were having some good success with it. I flew up to see them and later moved my wife and son up there. They told me that they were getting about 40 or 50 percent of their patients with this disease into remission. From 20 to 30 percent to 40 to 50 percent. That's a lot of difference when you're talking about your life. So we moved up, and for five months I went through experimental industrial strength chemotherapy. Again, I don't need to tell this audience what that's about. I was bald-headed, bloated, and I didn't have a hair on my body. Sometimes in the morning I'd be so tired, my wife would roll me out of bed on the floor to get me going. She still does that sometimes. No matter how badly I felt and how weak I was, though, every day I would get up and I would walk. If I had enough energy, I would jog a little bit and I would try to stay active because I was absolutely determined that I was not going to have this disease define or limit my life any more than necessary. We were very fortunate. I knew a lot of people at NCI that were not very fortunate. I went into a quick remission, and five or six months later, it was finished. The doctors told me that it wasn't all good news; that I was going to be sterile because of the chemo that I had. Dorothy and I would not be able to have additional children. I felt that we always wanted to have four or five, but I felt so lucky just to have a chance to be alive and to see my one son grow up.
Ten years from the day of my initial diagnosis, almost to the day, certainly to the month, I found myself sitting on the back porch of a house that we rent every summer with my wife and her five brothers and sisters from New York and Pennsylvania. By the way, they never pay their fair share. I don't know if you have relatives like that or not. One of them is even a damn doctor. So we have this house, and we literally put about 40 people in the house--you're supposed to have like 25 or 30. This is an eight-bedroom house right on the water, but we pay for 80 percent of it, and I like about 5 percent of the relatives, so it works out okay, not too bad a deal.
I was sitting on the back porch of this house watching all of the cousins, 15 or 20 cousins, play on the beach including my own 3 children. In spite of the dire prognosis of the doctors, Dorothy and I had a second child, a daughter and a third child, a son. In the old days you'd probably say they look like the mailman. Today, we probably say the FedEx man or maybe even the FedEx woman, but we've been blessed with two more children.
I was sitting there watching my kids and all the cousins play and waiting for a phone call from another doctor. I'd been in 4 or 5 days before we went on vacation to have another one of those annual physicals, and the nurse called me a couple of days later. I've learned, over time, when the nurse calls you it's good news, when the doctor calls it's bad news. So she started going over the stress test and the blood profile and this and that. I was particularly interested in knowing what my PSA was because I realized that I was at high risk for having prostate cancer. My father died of prostate cancer. My mother's father died of prostate cancer. I had four uncles who, by this time, three of the four had prostate cancer. So I had been watching my prostate closely for 10 or 12 years. Not literally, I might add. I'm not sure how you do that. I'm not sure if you could do that and that you'd want to see the damn thing. I've been monitoring my prostate closely. I had the PSA test--a very pleasant test. At least the men, I hope, are familiar with the DRE, the Digital Rectal Exam, which will wake you up if you're asleep when you have it.
So, I asked the nurse, I said, "Well, what's my PSA?"
She said, "It's below normal."
I said, "Well, what is it?"
She said, "It's 3.9, normal is 4."
I said, "What was it last year?"
She said, "It was 2.5."
"What was it the year before?"
"It was 2.4."
"What was the year before?"
I said, "You mean it's jumped up over a point in a year?"
She said, "Oh, you're just a worrier 'cause you've had cancer before. Come back in a year and we'll check it again."
I went home and now I've got the Internet, which allows you to be a real pain in the ass for your doctors. I started looking, and I saw a report from Mayo that said that a rise of more than .75 in your PSA within a year is abnormal, and that velocity is as important sometimes with PSA tests as volume. So I didn't need any more encouragement in that. I went to see a urologist the next day, and he did an ultrasound of my prostate and it looked normal. I said, "Well as long as you're up there, why don't we take some samples." So he biopsied my prostate and called me on the beach a few days later and told me I had prostate cancer. I swing into action then. As I mentioned, I have the Internet now. I walk into my doctor's office with a big stack of reports, all this stuff of doctors embracing technology--they don't always embrace the patients having access to that technology. I walked into my doctor's office and started examining the options for somebody with prostate cancer. Because my PSA was low, the chances were that I had caught it very early. I looked at all of the options and there are a number of good options for men today who have prostate cancer. But for me, I wanted the damn thing out and I decided I would have surgery.
I was very disappointed when I went to my surgeon and he told me that it would be 5 or 6 weeks before he could remove my prostate because once you have a biopsy it swells up, and they want it to return to normal size before they remove it, which is, as many people in this audience know, both major and delicate surgery. So I had five weeks to sit around and wait for my surgery. The idea that one of these cells was going to escape my prostate and move outside my prostate and into my body terrified me. About the second or third day that I was home, word had kind of spread that I had this second battle with cancer. A friend of mine at Dana Farber who is a molecular biologist and also Taiwanese sent me an abstract about green tea. In this abstract, the conclusion was drawn that one of the reasons that there are low levels of prostate cancer in all areas of Asia is because of the tea that people drink there. Well, I get this article and I get kind of excited. I tell three or four friends about it, start calling around town for green tea, and two days later the Federal Express man comes to my door and delivers 75 pounds of green tea from a friend of mine. Well, I'm in business now. I've got this abstract. I've got 75 pounds of green tea. Maybe I won't have to have the surgery. I'll just drink the tumor to death. Then I started getting serious about it, and there were a couple of disturbing facts. First of all, the study had been done on rats. I'm not a rat, although my wife sometimes thinks that I am. Even more disturbing was when I extrapolated from the abstract the amount of green tea the rats had been given, I figured I had to drink about 10 gallons of the damn stuff a day to have as much as the rats. So, I decided I would go and have my surgery. But for about five weeks I drank 10 or 12 cups of green tea. It is awful tasting stuff, but I felt good in that period of time that I was doing something to contain my cancer.
I went in to see my surgeon for the obligatory briefing before the surgery for him to make my wife and me aware of the risk. This surgeon requires the spouse to be there. He said, "There's some chance you'll be incontinent when this is over. I don't think so, but there's some chance." He then looked right at my wife and said, "There's a chance your husband will be impotent after this surgery." My wife looked right back at him and she said, "That would not be a change in his current condition."
So with the love and support of my dear wife, I went under the knife the next morning, and on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being terrible, the surgery was a 2 or a 3. It wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. The news was good, because I had pursued aggressively that jump in my PSA. The cancer was confined, as best they could tell, to my prostate. So I went home.
I had to wear a catheter for about four weeks, and I was worried about what my son, Alexander, who was four at the time, would think about his father with this bag that I had to drag around for about a month. But, he went to his kindergarten and during sharing period told everybody that daddy's been on a trip and has gotten a pee pee bag. It's a pretty good description of a catheter.
About a week after I got home, I got a letter from my friend at Dana Farber who had sent me the original abstract on green tea, telling me that I'd been drinking the wrong kind of green tea. By this point, I didn't give a damn because it was out and the prostate cancer was over. Now, I don't want to talk too long and I want to leave a little time maybe for some questions or discussion.
My third cancer was skin cancer. I was a lifeguard for about 10 years--10 summers growing up--and we used to put on iodine and baby oil and soak in it. A dermatologist told me many years later that was about the worst thing in the world you could do to your skin. I had a serious skin cancer, but again I caught it very early at an annual physical.
So, what have I learned from these experiences about cancer? Well, I've learned a lot and I've learned a lot about myself. On a serious note that particularly the professionals in this room will appreciate, we're having an epidemic of cancer in this country. Today, 40 percent of the people who are alive in the United States will have cancer in their lifetime. The American Association of Cancer Research predicts by the year 2010 that number will go up to 50 percent. Half of the people alive in the year 2010 will have had cancer in their lifetime. Why? Well, a big reason is the decline in mortality from other diseases. Death from cardiovascular disease has gone down 25 percent in the last decade. So, we're learning better how to deal with and treat and manage other diseases, so more and more of us are going to live longer and longer, and cancer, myself being an exception obviously, is usually a disease of age.
What are we doing about the cancer epidemic? Not enough. The good news is that about half of all cancers are now cured, which is enormous progress over the last 15 or 20 years. John Mendleson, the head of MD Anderson, will tell you that if everybody had their regular check up like I had, then probably 75 percent of all cancers would be cured. So enormous progress had been made on the treatment side, but there's much yet to learn. As you certainly understand, basic research in cancer has been the responsibility historically of the federal government because the pay out to invest in basic research and then to have something commercialized, the chance of any one drug or any one treatment being successful is tiny and it takes 10 or 12 or 15 years. So, President Nixon declared war on cancer in 1972, and that modest investment in cancer research has made a tremendous difference. But we need to do so much more because we know so much more today and we are on the verge of breakthroughs in cancer that relate to the understanding of people that are at high risk; the intersection of genomics and bio-informatics. So, it's an exciting time. But as a nation, we spend one-tenth of a penny out of every ten tax dollars on a disease that's going to strike almost half of us. Is that enough? You won't think so when cancer strikes you or someone that you love. Not to pick on any particular federal program, but I think the Pentagon's research budget every year is $65 billion, and I think the space program is $15 billion, and the FAA is $12 or 15 billion. It keeps us from being blown up by some mad bomber on an airplane. Norman Schwartzkoff will tell you that we spend about three and half billion dollars on one super carrier, that's the example he likes to use. And we spend a little over $3 billion on cancer research. So, everybody's in Washington and there are so many legitimate demands for so many things and I know the challenge that you face continuously in terms of what happens to Medicaid and Medicare. But, I would suggest to you that the economic benefits to this country of people avoiding cancer or being cured of cancer are overwhelming.
What else have I learned at a personal level? I've learned that people in the health profession are the worst about getting check ups, and doctors are the very worst. If nothing else, I hope you'll take at least the example of what's happened to me. I've had three different cancers, and I would be dead today from two of them, for sure, if I had not had an annual physical and had good doctors that found my cancer early.
What have I learned as a human being? I've learned that sooner or later in life we will all get bad reports. You'll eventually get a bad report about yourself, possibly about your spouse, your mother, your father, your siblings, or, God forbid, your children. When you get that bad report, you will come for the first time face-to-face with your own mortality, and you will probably think seriously for the first time about your life and the purpose of your life. My wife was never more important to me than those times over the past 15 years when I felt like I was fighting for it. I never want to forget the raw fear and the unsettling reality of having cancer, because if I'm ever able to simply brush those experiences and memories and feelings aside, I will lose the ironic blessing that cancer has given to my own life.
I have talked to people and I've written books and I go around talking about cancer. I have people call me, and the people that seek me out and call me are almost by definition pretty aggressive, not passive. I never try to tell a cancer patient what to do. I try to tell him or her the questions to ask, to be sure that they understand their options, to do the best thing, to be a well-informed partner with their medical team in the decisions that are going to be made. People usually kind of get it or they don't. Five or ten minutes, we talk on the phone and sometimes they'll write me six to eight months later. Sometimes you never hear from these folks, which is fine. There's one young guy that I never met who lived in California, and he called me about a brain tumor. We just struck it up on the phone, and we started talking to each other every month or so. He had a bad brain tumor, and I hadn't heard from him in a month or six weeks and I started worrying about him, so I called him and asked him what he was doing. He said, "Well, I'm sitting in my backyard in Southern California, it's a sunny day, my three kids are here, my wife's here, we're going to cook something on the grill in a few minutes, we're having a lot of fun." I said, "Are you having a good day?" He said, "The doctor told me a few weeks ago he thought I had about six to eight weeks to live. This tumor in my head is everywhere now, so there's no such thing as a bad day for me." That young man's attitude is an attitude that I try every day to adopt in my own life, not easily and not successfully. But I think about what any of us would do if we knew we had only three or four weeks to live. My guess is you would gather around you those people that you care about and tell them you love them. My guess is you would probably make up with family members or business associates that you've fallen out with over some silly thing. My guess is you would want to live that last month very differently because there's nowhere in history that it has been recorded that someone said on their death bed I wish I had spent more time at the office.
So, I'm here today to thank you for the role that you and your institutions play in the health of our people. To thank you personally for what you contribute through your hospitals or to your communities and to say on behalf of hundreds of thousands and millions of people that you had served and will serve, thank you for great health care in this country. Thanks.
Thank you very much. I'll take questions on just about any subject except maybe my prostate. Although, I think I've opened that up for discussion here too, so I'll even talk about that some more.
MR. JORDAN: The gentlemen asked me, "What's the impact of diet on these diseases?" There are a lot of things in life we don't understand, which does not mean that they're not significant. You can look up at the solar system and it works. We can't explain why. I believe that there are a whole range of non-medical things that a patient can employ in support of their medical treatment. Have I ever seen miracles? I believe in miracles. Yeah, I have seen miracles. But, I think they're by definition rare, and I never expected God to waste one on me. So if you have a brain tumor, I don't believe you can sit in the corner and pray it away. But I think if you have good medical treatment and a desire to live and spiritual beliefs, I believe all those things are very helpful. I'm sure some of you know that there have been studies done, for example, among women who have lost their spouses. Within the two years after women have lost their spouses, they're at a significantly increased risk for breast cancer. So I believe in the relationship between our mind, our body, our attitude, and our will to live. I'm sure you've seen that in your hospitals anecdotally time and time again. Simply because we can't explain it does not mean that it's not real, and it should be, in my opinion, respected. On the other extreme though, this whole process of patients being well informed, the Internet is wonderful in many ways. But I've seen people do half of what they needed to do and pick out the easiest treatment or therapy and combine it with some medicine they bought off the Internet and in doing that significantly reduce their chances for cure. So, I think all these things are important. I don't think we understand them very well.
MR. JORDAN: The gentlemen asked me, "In my years at the White House is there any one thing that sticks out?" Well, I remember being elected, and I remember being defeated. That's two things. It's pretty much a blur in between there. People talk about how exciting it must be and how much fun it is. I remember it as terribly difficult work. I remember being there 12 or 14 hours a day, six days a week and at least half days on Sunday. I remember the feeling of never being able to catch up. There were always more people that were calling you, more people that wanted to see you, and guess what? All these people that were after you, they weren't calling you to tell you that you're doing a great job, they all wanted something. Usually they wanted their child to be the ambassador to France or something. So, I have many wonderful memories of being in Washington and being at the White House, but it wasn't exciting and fun. It was a good experience. But when it was over for President Carter, it was over for me. So I went back to Georgia. Yes, sir, one more question.
MR. JORDAN: How do we raise funds to support Camp Sunshine? We have so much money now that we're struggling to know what to do with it. We have tremendous community support, and we're building a house in Atlanta for families that have kids undergoing treatment who are not able to afford hotels. The Braves do something for us every year that raises $100,000. Arthur Blank, who is the chairman of Home Depot, is chairman of our foundation. We just have wonderful community support.
My daughter Kathleen has juvenile diabetes, and you know what that disease is like. So about two years ago, we started a camp for children with diabetes, and that's what Dorothy and myself are focused on now. I'm also involved in a couple of biotech companies, including one that has a very promising therapy for juvenile diabetes and for adults with diabetes. That's where we spend some of our time. I have found people are very generous, particularly as it relates to children. That's enough questions.
I hope you have a successful conference here with your peers and being with people in the Congress. I understand that Secretary Thompson is here. We were talking at our table. I'm going to get time on this cancer research funding question, based on initial discussions that we had with both the Bush and the Gore campaigns during the summer and more recently with the Bush administration. I think my impression is that the environment in the new administration is very receptive to these issues that have concern to you and myself. I think you're fortunate that you have a governor at HHS who understands hospitals because governors have to understand hospitals to be able to run their states. So, on this whole range of health issues that face our country, I think there's a lot of reason for optimism with the new administration. Thank you for your time.