Opening remarks at “Give Life a Chance through Cancer Immunotherapy” Cancer Prevention and Awareness-Raising Program

Opening Remarks by Ambassador Colleen Bell

at “Give Life a Chance through Cancer Immunotherapy” Cancer Prevention and Awareness-Raising Program

National Institute of Oncology

September 9, 2016

– as prepared for delivery –

Conference Chairs Dr. Kotlán and Professor Liszkay, Professor Butterfield, Professor Gödény, Representatives of the Hungarian Fulbright Commission and members of the U.S. alumni community, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning!  First of all, I would like to say thank you to Dr. Kotlán for the kind invitation to this important event.  It is an honor to be here today to open the scientific portion of this three-day program on cancer prevention, which, with its focus on discussing and raising  awareness of emerging immunotherapy techniques and options, is the first of its kind in Hungary.  I am awed by the collective knowledge and experience in this room, and I am inspired by your curiosity, innovation, and dedication to saving and improving lives.

In today’s world, cancer has a major impact on so many people and families in the United States and across the world.  Too many of us personally know someone affected by cancer – whether we witness the fight of a loved one directly or we see the worry of their family and friends.

According to the National Cancer Institute, “In 2016, an estimated 1,685,210 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 595,690 people will die from the disease.”  And that’s just in the United States.  As you know all too well, cancer knows no borders.  Based on the World Health Organization’s statistics, cancer is among the leading causes of death worldwide.  In 2012, there were 14 million new cases and 8.2 million cancer-related deaths globally.

As United States Ambassador to Hungary, as well as in my private capacity, I consider promoting international cooperation in healthcare and medical research to be an absolute priority.  Assuring the physical and mental health of each individual is the first building block of a prosperous society and a peaceful planet.   A sound mind in a sound body, unburdened by illness, is free to dream, to discover, to accomplish so much good for our world.

On behalf of the global community, I commend you for your collaborative efforts and I thank you for being here today.  Initiatives such as this conference not only provide cancer care professionals from all corners of the world with a unique platform to exchange experiences and research findings, they also provide patients, their relatives and the general public with counsel and information on cancer prevention and cancer immunotherapy.  They facilitate international collaboration and they build bridges between scientists and their communities.

In this regard, I am pleased to see so many U.S. alumni representatives including Fulbrighters here today.  I thank Dr. Beatrix Kotlán – herself a two-time Fulbright alumna from Hungary — for organizing this opportunity.  Building bridges between nations to enhance mutual understanding and further scientific development and cooperation is one of the cornerstones of U.S. diplomacy.  We are proud to see the U.S. alumni community continue working toward these goals long after their exchange experiences.

Please excuse me for not being able to stay longer, but as you may know, we are commemorating the 15th anniversary of 9/11 this weekend.  We remember the victims of the terrorist attacks and the many heroes who worked to save and protect them: the police officers, the fire fighters and first responders, the doctors and nurses, and many others.  I thank the organizers for publicizing the Embassy’s blood drive today being held in their honor.  And I thank all of you for your efforts each and every day to save and improve lives.  I wish you all fruitful discussions and a wonderful stay in Budapest.  Thank you very much.  Köszönöm szépen.