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We all are painfully aware of the difficult decisions facing the governor and the legislators and the gravity of the state deficit as they prepare the budget for the coming year. However, I feel an obligation to express my concern regarding Roswell Park Cancer Institute's funding.

Roswell Park cannot handle any further personnel and budget cuts without sacrificing the quality of its care. Roswell Park cannot tell its patients to come back in a couple of years when the state budget deficit is under control.

Cancer waits for no one. Timely and excellent care is vital in treating cancer.

The quality of care would be compromised by further cuts in budget or personnel. A diminished quality of care may actually mean the difference between life and death.

The timing for a cutback could not be worse. Roswell Park is currently experiencing a revitalization in its program after years of stagnation. For instance:

Some of the best physician-researchers in the world have recently been recruited.

Exciting treatment and research programs are just getting under way.

The community has never been more supportive or involved in the revitalization of Roswell Park.

To cut state funding at this fragile point would create a disastrous domino effect. Employees would be laid off. As a result, services would have to be eliminated. Doctors we spent years recruiting would leave, unable to stay in an environment with inadequate staffing, equipment and diagnostic tools. The quality of care would suffer.

The downhill spiral would diminish Roswell Park to the point that it may no longer be viable as a comprehensive cancer center that provides hope patients can find nowhere else. An opportunity to achieve greatness, once lost, cannot be rebuilt. Lives lost cannot be returned.

I am also deeply saddened to think that if the doors were to close, 2,400 hardworking, dedicated people would be unemployed. The economic impact alone on the community would be devastating.

Roswell Park Alliance

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