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.
Lawmakers Share Their One Degree Stories & Calls to Action
At our One Degree launch event on March 17, we had an impressive lineup cancer survivors, passionate volunteers, celebrity star power and supportive lawmakers to make the case for more federal funding for cancer research. The One Degree Project is an unprecedented joint effort between ACS CAN and Stand Up To Cancer to save more lives from cancer by increasing medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health by $6 billion over two years, including $1 billion for cancer research at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This actually represents a restoration that would reverse the 24 percent decrease in funding for medical research since 2003, which has halted promising clinical trials and dried up the grant pool relied upon by researchers. Recently, I shared some quotes from the three celebrities and volunteer stories that were voiced at our launch event on Capitol Hill. We also had more than 10 lawmakers who took to the podium at the event to voice their commitment to the cause, and several others who attended. Each of them had a compelling One Degree story to share, and a case to make for increased federal funding for cancer research. Here are some of their thoughts that have stuck with me:
Representative Matt Salmon (R-AZ) I'm kind of an unlikely candidate to be here today, probably for a lot of reasons. I've been recognized by numerous groups as one of the most tight-fisted people in the entire Congress. It's kind of a dubious distinction, but I believe that our nation is on a trajectory financially that needs to be fixed quickly. However, that having been said, I believe with all of my heart and soul that if the federal government doesn't lead the way on conquering cancer that it won't get done.
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) Do you know when I passed that bill banning smoking on airplanes back then, at that point 18 percent of medical health care researchers were under the age of 36. Now it's 3 percent. Why? They're giving up. They don't think there is a future in medical research. We have to inspire them to continue their efforts. And to do that we have to fund these agencies.
Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) About 12 years ago I had the good fortune during my annual physical, and as we were walking away from the physical_ [my doctor said] let's take a picture of your heart while you're here_ Well, two weeks later we took out a softball size tumor still encapsulated and my left kidney with it, and otherwise I wouldn't be here today because we just happened to have the opportunity of early detection of something that would have clearly ended my life about a dozen years ago. One of the challenges in moving forward with the kind of research we need to be doing here is frankly that the Congress has not been doing the business of the Congress in a while. It's been seven years since we debated the appropriations bills on the floor of the Senate. And when you don't debate your priorities, you forget why your priorities are your priorities.
Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) No one should have to survive by luck. Battling this disease with medical science should be a priority for every government, for every human being. And $6 billion for NIH over the next two years and $1 billion for NCI over the next two years is not a lot of money to ask for to save people's lives.
Representative Kevin Yoder (R-KS) Your voices are being heard. A lot of folks come up to Washington, D.C. and they don't know whether it's worth their time, whether people care to listen. And I want you to know that your personal stories, the time you take to share with members of Congress today- it really, really matters.