Leaders take notice of local man’s shutdown plight

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SCHAGHTICOKE, N.Y. — A local man fighting cancer is determined to show lawmakers in Washington how the shutdown is threatening people's lives.

On Wednesday, NEWS10 ABC spoke with Robert Duncan who recently lost his wife to cancer, and is battling a rare form of bone marrow cancer. The shutdown has stopped a program he's apart of at the National Institute of Health — and now he's doing everything he can to get it reopened to save lives.

[STORY: Local man fights on after gov't shutdown puts clinical trial on hold]

“You take it one step at a time, we go forward,” he says.

But the shutdown has stopped a clinical research process that could better his live and result in advances in cancer treatment.

“These people without this, they have nothing, this is their last step,” he says.

So we reached out to his congressman and senators in the nation's capital, and just before five Thursday evening he missed a call from his congressman's office.

Congressman Chris Gibson's office was following up on Duncan's concerns, and told NEWS10 ABC that they will speak to him.

Senator Charles Schumer's office said they plan to reach out to Duncan on Friday, telling NEWS10 ABC, “We are reaching out to Mr. Duncan and will help him in any way possible.”

“I'm getting some response, and that's what we're looking for. We want people to take an initiative, and take action, a positive action to resolve this problem,” Duncan says.

A problem Duncan says means the difference between life and death.

“These are people who have no cure, who have no meds; they are doing clinical trials at risk to their own life,” he says. “I don't know if I will be successful, I hope so, if I'm not at least I've contributed positively to the future and knowledge of these diseases.”

Late Wednesday, the U.S. House passed a bill that would fund NIH, and Congressman Gibson's office pointed out that it's now the Senate's job to act on the bill.

NEWS10 ABC will continue to follow Duncan's story and the response he gets from leaders.

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