Mariah Forster Olson, an ACS CAN Ambassador Constituent Team Lead (ACT Lead), traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to share her story as a childhood cancer survivor and to advocate on behalf of other patients and survivors during the 2019 Childhood Cancer Action Days.
Cancer Communities Across the Country Rally for Research
Today, advancements in cancer research are saving more lives than ever. That’s why increasing federal funding for cancer research is one of our top priorities. Without consistent increases in federal research funding, new treatments and tests may not reach cancer patients who need them the most, like Erin Burns from Minnesota.
Burns, who underwent cancer treatment at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), was one of hundreds of volunteers who participated in Rally for Research events in communities across the country during the August Congressional recess. At these events, our dedicated volunteers and staff called on Congress to reject cancer research funding cuts proposed by the administration for Fiscal Year 2018, including $7.2 billion for NIH and $1.2 billion for the National Cancer Institute, and instead increase NIH funding by $2 billion.
Burns joined people from more than 20 other organizations on the steps of the Minnesota capitol to urge Congress to boost funding.
“Getting a clean bill of health after a cancer diagnosis is such a gift,” she said. “I owe my life and my vitality to the investment our country has made by funding the critical research of the NIH.”
There were approximately 200 people in attendance at the Minnesota Rally for Research event. The attendees heard from lawmakers, patients, researchers and medical institutions on what the proposed cuts to the NIH could mean for Minnesota, and what they could do to prevent these cuts from happening. In addition to Burns, other speakers included local celebrities, numerous researchers and the director of the Masonic Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota.
Burns said, “I am acutely aware that I was one of the lucky ones. I met so many patients for whom a clinical trial was not only their best hope for survival, it was their only hope. We need to keep the NIH strong for these men and women. Speaking at the rally was my opportunity to thank the NIH for that gift and to raise my voice for their continued support.”
ACS CAN Connecticut held their event at the New Haven Town Green where they were joined by the New Haven mayor, Toni Harp, and Connecticut State Representative Josh Elliot. Several speakers shared their personal cancer stories including cancer survivor Melissa Thompson who was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after the birth of her daughter, and credited research to helping her beat the disease. Additionally, Dr. David Stern, a cancer researcher from Yale, addressed the crowd.
At least a dozen Rally for Research events have taken place since the beginning of the month. These events brought together hundreds of passionate cancer advocates, standing in support of cancer research with friends, family, researchers and lawmakers. Their participation is proof of cancer advocates’ commitment to making sure cancer and cancer research funding is a top national priority.