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.
Childhood Cancer Advocates Join Together for a Powerful Day on Capitol Hill
ACS CAN staff, volunteers, childhood cancer patients, survivors and their parents joined forces with the Alliance for Childhood Cancer (Alliance) advocates last month for the Alliance’s seventh annual Legislative Action Day on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Every year, our advocates converge on Washington to share their powerful stories with lawmakers as we work with them to elevate pediatric cancer research and funding as a priority issue for Congress. I’m confident this year’s remarkable showing by the coalition will lead to tangible results as we pursue that goal. In total, more than 230 participants from 35 states had 175 meetings with members of Congress or their staff as a result of the Alliance’s coordinated efforts.
In addition to the powerful meetings the coalition had with lawmakers, my confidence is rooted in the fact that comprehensive legislation that focuses specifically on pediatric cancer research funding and treatment has already advanced unanimously out of the U.S. Senate earlier this year. The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access and Research (STAR) Act is the most comprehensive childhood cancer bill to ever be introduced in Congress and it’s time for the House of Representatives to approve the bill and send it to the president for his signature. Enactment of this legislation will unleash efforts to provide researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with critical funding to advance efforts to fight pediatric cancer and help children not only during cancer treatment, but for the rest of their lives. I believe the meetings our advocates had with members of the House will help move this bill one critical step closer to enactment.
It’s no small task to leave your home and your family to come to Washington D.C. for a legislative action day. Our volunteers and everyone from the Alliance who participated in last month’s action day deserve tremendous credit for lobbying lawmakers on such an important issue. Their actions will aid us in our efforts to advance pediatric cancer as a priority issue for Congress moving forward.