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 Cancer Advocates Make Their Voices Heard in DC
Throughout the year, ACS CAN and its volunteers work to impact the cancer burden by making sure lawmakers are aware of the issues that matter to them at all levels of government.
September marks one of the most powerful and exciting times of the year as we gather hundreds of our advocates in the nation’s capital as part of our annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. This year, nearly 700 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones from all 50 states and nearly every congressional district will be on Capitol Hill next week to ask members of Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority.
The event is almost three full days, starting on Monday, where advocates will hear from the directors of three leading cancer research centers - Laurie Glimcher, MD, from the Harvard University Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Kevin Cullen, MD, from the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center and Ethan Dmitrovsky, MD, from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center - about the impact of inadequate federal funding on promising research projects.
Tuesday, ACS CAN advocates will start off the day with a rally led by NCAA Division I basketball coaches who are members of Coaches vs. Cancer, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
John Gallagher, from the University of Hartford, Jeff Jones of Old Dominion University, Jack Murphy of Northern Arizona University, and Josh Pastner of Georgia Tech will lead the crowd before they head to Capitol Hill for more than 350 meetings in the Senate and House offices.
As our advocates head to their legislative meetings wearing their signature blue ACS CAN shirts, they’ll be armed with three specific asks:
- Increase funding for cancer research at the National Institutes of Health to $36 billion through the appropriations process
- Advance legislation to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and survivors by expanding access to palliative care services and coordinated care
- Support legislation that will close a loophole in Medicare that often results in surprise costs for seniors when a polyp is found during a routine colonoscopy
The day will culminate with our “Lights of HOPE” ceremony, where nearly 25,000 lights will circle the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial to represent a loved one impacted by cancer.
Our summit will conclude with a keynote speaker by cancer survivor and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Drummer Max Weinberg, who will share his personal cancer story and why advocacy is important to him.
Spending time with those at the heart of our organization is something I look forward to ever year. It’s one of our busiest times of the year, but it’s rewarding to see all of our advocates mobilizing at the same time to make their voices heard.