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(News-Press.com) - Gov. Rick Scott is pushing Florida to become a national leader in cancer research.

During a visit to 21st Century Oncology in Fort Myers on Thursday, Scott heralded his budget proposal of an $80 million investment in cancer research.

"This is an overall increase of $30 million from last year, and what's great is all of this is an effort to make sure we're the best state to be treated in if you have cancer," Scott said. "This will help Florida have more nationally recognized cancer treatment and research institutions. The funding will go toward helping existing Florida Cancer Centers become National Cancer Institute-designated and help Florida become, if not the best state, then one of the best states for research."

The governor's budget proposal would use $60 million to help Florida Cancer Centers receive NCI designation and $20 million for peer-reviewed research grants.

The grants would benefit the work happening at 21st Century Oncology, Scott said, as he stood alongside Gail Johns — a Fort Myers residents who has had multiple cancers.

"They make you sick to make you feel better," Johns, 54, said. "A lot of people focus on the bad parts, but it's like child birth, you forget the pain and remember the good. You always have to look forward to the good."

Florida is the third largest populated state and we have the largest proportion of older citizens affected by these diseases, said Dr. Daniel Dosoretz, chief executive officer and co-founder of 21st Century Oncology.

"We do understand that to continue to improve results the medical community needs to engage in research and advance the field," he said. "Every one of us have been indirectly or directly touch touched by cancer. The road to eradicate cancer is a long one, but we are all committed to the undertaking."

Scott said he believes his funding proposal will make it past the Legislature.

The House and Senate haven't begun negotiations on the details of their $75 billion state spending plan, but Sen. Garret Richter, R-Naples, called the governor's support for cancer centers a positive.

"We need to get involved with research... it's impacting our day-to-day lives, it impacts our families and it's something we have to address," said Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples.

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