We’re proud to join the cancer community this September in recognition of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and will continue to focus our advocacy efforts year-round to improve the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for childhood cancer patients and survivors.
Florida Advocates Call for Quality of Life Taskforce
Nearly 100 cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from across the state of Florida traveled to Tallahassee last week to ask Florida lawmakers to support the creation of a Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Taskforce. The visit was part of ACS CAN's annual advocacy day in Florida. The taskforce is one crucial way to increase access to palliative care in the state. As I've written about before, palliative care is patient-centered care provided at the point of diagnosis through survival that addresses a patients' pain, stress and other symptoms of a serious illness such as cancer. Palliative care is currently available at most major U.S. hospitals, but isn't as prevalent in other care settings. Established through legislation, the Palliative Care and Quality of Life Interdisciplinary Taskforce would bring together 11 of Florida's palliative care experts throughout the year to gather findings and develop recommendations to submit to the Florida governor and legislature on improving the quality of life for both cancer patients and their families in Florida through palliative care programs. It's clear that advancing palliative care is very important for the residents of Florida. Antoinette Deen, a cancer survivor from Tallahassee, came across a flyer for the Quality of Life rally held on the ACS CAN advocacy day and knew she had to participate. She braved the unusually cold weather and joined other American Cancer Society and ACS CAN volunteers on the old Capitol steps to rally behind the palliative care taskforce legislation.
Carmen, Bibiana, Joy, Deloise, Penelope, Donna, Mary and her 16-year-old daughter Sydney, ACS CAN volunteers from Miami and Key West, met with Florida Senator Dwight Bullard to discuss ACS CAN's legislative priorities including the Palliative Care and Quality of Life legislation. Senator Bullard agreed on the spot to co-sponsor the bill.
This bill is getting the same kind of unwavering, bipartisan support from many other lawmakers in Florida. As more than 114,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer in Florida this year, coordinated, quality cancer care is clearly a priority for lawmakers and families with cancer alike. ACS CAN advocates in Florida aren't the only ones working to pass this important legislation four states have active taskforces this year, and 12 other states are actively working on establishing similar taskforces. Join us in letting lawmakers in your state know how crucial palliative care is to quality cancer care for patients and families.