A Fond Farewell
For the past nine years, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of serving as president of ACS CAN. It’s been incredibly exciting to witness ACS CAN grow into the leading cancer advocacy organization it is today. When I joined in 2010, ACS CAN was already making incredible progress in elevating cancer as a national priority. Today, we’re looked to as the expert voice for cancer advocacy. Our grassroots network has expanded dramatically, with a presence in every congressional district across the country. We’ve influenced significant policy changes at every level of government, each a step toward our mission of eliminating death and suffering from this disease. Experiencing this progress alongside colleagues and volunteers has been rewarding, both professionally and personally.
As with many of our volunteers and staff – and millions of Americans – I’ve experienced firsthand the devastating impact that cancer has on patients and their loved ones. I watched my father die of cancer in 1996 and vowed that if I ever had the opportunity, I would do something about it. In 2013 my wife survived kidney cancer. That personal connection to cancer allows me to fully appreciate the lifesaving work done every day by my colleagues, and made each day as ACS CAN president fulfilling and motivating.
These past nine years have seen no shortage of successes in our fight against cancer; each day in the office I was impressed by the work accomplished by the ACS CAN team. As I reflect on my time with ACS CAN, a few moments in particular stand out to me:
- Achieving our goal of increasing federal cancer research funding by $1 billion. The launch of our One Degree campaign in 2015 was ambitious, but our volunteers and celebrity advocates kept the importance of research funding at the forefront of lawmakers’ minds. After three years of consistently advocating for sustained investments in cancer research, we celebrated the completion of our One Degree goal, a monumental achievement for the cancer community.
- Making progress in tobacco control efforts. While there’s still work to be done, the extension of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authority to regulate all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars and hookah, was a significant milestone in the public health community. A few months before I joined ACS CAN, the average state cigarette tax was $1.34 per pack. Today, it’s up to $1.79 per pack – a nearly 34 percent increase. These significant tax increases encourage adults to quit smoking and prevent kids – like my grandchildren – from starting. On a personal level, I’m not shy about my love of baseball, and celebrated each time a Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium implemented tobacco-free policies.
- Protecting patients’ access to lifesaving care. Some of the most compelling stories I’ve heard through our work came from patients who had to fight to access the health care they needed to treat their cancer. I’m proud of the countless times ACS CAN has advocated to maintain patient protections in the health care law and for the continued work staff and volunteers are doing to ensure patients across the country to have access to affordable, adequate health coverage.
As I settle into retirement, I’m both proud of the progress ACS CAN has made and confident that it will continue. Under Lisa Lacasse’s leadership, I’m convinced ACS CAN’s most impactful days are yet to come. I can’t fully step away from this important mission and have committed to transition into the role of volunteer to continue the fight against cancer and celebrate certain victories ahead.
I want to extend a final thank you to every ACS CAN volunteer and staff member who has dedicated time, energy and expertise to our cause. I’ve said it often during my time here, because it’s true – you are what drives this organization, and your commitment to our mission is what I’ll remember most from my time with ACS CAN.