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.
Guest Post: My Call to Action from the Vice President
Last week, President Obama announced plans to launch the National Cancer Moonshot with a call for $1 billion in funding for specific cancer prevention and research initiatives intended to accelerate progress in FY16 and FY17. Families affected by cancer applauded the president for working quickly to jumpstart the Moonshot initiative spearheaded by Vice President Biden by calling for a substantial increase in funding that has the potential to change the course of this disease.
CS CAN volunteers across the country have been inspired by the Moonshot proposal and have already sent more than 5,000 emails to the vice president lending their support and sharing their #OneDegree to cancer. We invited Raha Assadi-Lamouki to share her story the same story she shared with the vice president - and tell us what the Moonshot initiative means to her and her family.
Raha, 24, is a longtime ACS CAN volunteer from Minnetonka, MN. Not only has she served as the National Advocacy Chair for Colleges Against Cancer, but she also spent a summer interning at the ACS CAN offices in Washington, D.C. Her #OneDegree is her younger brother, Roozie, her real-life superhero. Roozie, who was first diagnosed with cancer at age 9, passed away in October 2015 at age 21 after his fourth cancer diagnosis. We thank Raha for her tireless passion and for sharing her story here with us.
Raha's One Degree is her younger brother, Roozie her real-life superhero. Roozie, who was first diagnosed with cancer at age 9, passed away in October 2015 at age 21 after his fourth cancer diagnosis.
When Beau Biden passed away in September 2015, Vice President Biden said, Think of all the people you know who are going through horrible things, and they get up every morning and they put one foot in front of the other . . . I marvel, I marvel at the ability of people to absorb hurt and just get back up, and most of them do it with an incredible sense of empathy to other people. I mean, it's interesting, the people I find who I'm most drawn to are people who have been hurt. His words spoke to me, because in September, my younger brother, Roozie, was in the midst of his fourth bout with cancer and this time it was terminal. I saw my brother, day after day in the hospital, put a smile on his face, and take care of us -- his family. On October 20, 2015, my brother passed away after taking on cancer for 12 years. My family wasn't just hurt, we were broken. The center of our family was taken away from us. So, what the vice president said resonated with me. I was drawn to his strength and courage to speak about his pain. I was able to see someone else grieve.
I was also able to see the vice president take his tremendous pain, and put it towards the Moonshot initiative. When President Obama put the vice president in charge of the Moonshot initiative to defeat cancer at the State of the Union, I knew I needed my voice to be heard. Ever since I became an ACS CAN volunteer eight years ago, I've been determined to make my voice heard by lawmakers. So, I wrote a letter to the vice president. I told him about my superhero-my brother- who faced a brain tumor, lymphoma, and leukemia twice, starting at age 9. I thanked him for the effort he is making to ensure our loved ones didn't die in vain. And I described to him the selfless and incredible nature that is my brother.
Little did I know that the vice president would later call me on my cell phone and we would talk for 16 minutes and 41 seconds! The vice president and I shared our love for Beau and Roozie. He discussed the Moonshot initiative with me, and I was able to hear his passion for the cause through the phone. He made clear that one of his goals was to provide researchers with the resources needed to capitalize on the scientific opportunities of today, through both medical records and increased research funding. And he made sure I would express his condolences to my parents, because he knew how tough it was to lose a son.
None of us are more than One Degree from cancer. My One Degree is my brother, Roozie. I have been an advocate in his honor for years now, and my mom promised Roozie that we would do anything we could to ensure that cancer and the pain that comes along with it wouldn't happen to other children and their families. Raha shared her family's story with the vice president to show her support of the National Cancer Moonshot and the proposed $1 billion boost in funding for cancer prevention and research initiatives.