Days may be numbered for Texas institute that helps cancer patients

AUSTIN, Texas – The three words “you have cancer” are some of the most life-altering three words many people ever hear.

CPRIT, the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas, is an organization doing their best to help people who hear the devastating news fight the disease, and hopefully one day find a cure for it.

The problem is, CPRIT’s time may be running out.

Q: What is CPRIT?

A: The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas is a program formed by the taxpayers in 2007. Voters allocated $3 billion to go to helping Texans around the state with preventative measures, treatment and research to develop a cure.

“We are leading the nation in terms of being innovative in this approach and we are also ensuring that if we do find a cure one day, we can say it all started here in Texas,” said Philip Cortez, Texas State Rep. District 117.

And over the past 11 years, Cortez said these programs have been on the forefront of the medical field when it comes to cancer.

“They have a little over 100 possible drugs in the clinical testing phase right now,” Cortez said.

But, again, it’s not just finding a cure; CPRIT helps cancer patients and possible patients.

Q: How has CPRIT helped you?

A: “You already have this health situation that’s a big burden and there's nothing like having an angel lift you up. It really helps,” said Donna Dennis, who was diagnosed last year with breast cancer. She said that during her treatment, and even now in remission, CPRIT is a blessing.

“We need support and we need help financially; it’s very important, even now,” Dennis said. “I have insurance but oh my goodness, I have bill and I'm, like, OK, but what can I say?”

Q: If this program is so helpful, how could funding be at risk?

A: “The last grant could possibly be given out next year or at the latest 2020 and then we would be out of the $3 billion,” Cortez said.

Another bond, for at least $3 billion, is set to be introduced in the next legislative cycle that begins in January. If reps including Cortez decide to put it on the ballot, it then gets voted on by taxpayers. 

Cortez said that if the bond is denied at the legislative level or voters decide against it, grants, research and these possible cures could see a hard stop.

About the Author:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.