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.
Hundreds of ACS CAN Volunteers in DC Urging Congress to Fight Cancer
Today is the start of ACS CAN's signature annual event: our Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. We'll be welcoming more than 750 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones from all 50 states and nearly every congressional district to Washington, D.C. for three days of training, presentations, media opportunities and, of course, meetings with lawmakers. It is my favorite event of the year. Each advocate has a personal story about his or her connection to cancer, but each advocate also represents hundreds if not thousands of people battling the disease in their communities. On behalf of everyone nationwide who has heard the terrifying words, You have cancer, ACS CAN's volunteers will emphasize the need to make the fight against cancer a national priority. This year, advocates will ask lawmakers to do three things to help fight cancer:
- Support legislation that would increase the NIH budget by $6 billion over the next two years, with $1 billion dedicated to NCI
- Support legislation to improve the quality of life of cancer patients by providing better access to palliative care services
- Pass a bill to ensure that lifesaving colon cancer screenings are affordable for seniors
Leading cancer center directors, including Anthony Alberg, PhD, MPH, from the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center, and Timothy Ratliff, PhD, from Purdue University Center for Cancer Research, will share the impact of diminishing and often unpredictable federal funding for researchÎ¾ on cancer labs across the country and the importance of increasedÎ¾ funding for cancer research. Armed with that knowledge, ACS CAN volunteers and staff will head off Tuesday morning in their signature blue ACS CAN shirts for meetings in each of the 100 Senate offices and nearly 400 House offices. Division I college basketball coaches will send the volunteers off with a rally. The coaches Mike Brey (University of Notre Dame), Fran McCaffery (University of Iowa), Mitch Henderson (Princeton University) and Lon Kruger (University of Oklahoma) are members of Coaches vs. CancerÎÂ, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches that is celebrating its 20th anniversary. They will speak about their personal cancer connections and why cancer research funding is so critical.
Lobby Day will culminate with a moving display of more than 20,000 Lights of Hope surrounding the U.S Capitol Reflecting Pool and spelling Hope and Cure on adjacent steps. Each light will honor a cancer survivor or memorialize a loved one who lost his or her fight with the disease. Actress Marcia Cross and former NFL Player Chris Draft will speak about their roles as caregivers to loved ones who had cancer. We are pleased to have Celgene as a sponsor of this event for the second year in a row because they are also engaged in the fight against cancer through their development of new therapies that cancer patients need. This will be my 6th Leadership Summit and Lobby Day since I've been with ACS CAN, and each event gets better and better. Our volunteers come to Washington, D.C., with determination to continue to make progress against this disease and always leave having made a serious impact on Capitol Hill. I can't wait to spend time with them over the next few days and see their enormous impact on the fight against cancer.