A Meaningful Year in the Fight Against Cancer
It’s barely a week into the new year, yet 2020 is already shaping up to be a noteworthy year for public health, public policy and especially for our fight against cancer. ACS CAN advocates are already working determinedly to reduce the cancer burden in their communities by engaging with policymakers as state legislative sessions begin, developing 2020 campaign strategies and asking candidates their positions on cancer-related policies through our Cancer Votes electoral program. Our volunteers and staff are wasting no time in their relentless pursuit of reducing death and suffering from cancer!
Even as we jump full-steam into 2020, I think it’s important to also reflect on all that we accomplished last year and will continue to build upon in the months ahead. What a year 2019 turned out to be. My first day in the role of ACS CAN President fell on World Cancer Day, both a fitting and somewhat daunting coincidence. I took the theme of “I Am and I Will” as a personal call-to-action to lead this incredible organization in a way that brings us ever closer to our mission of ending death and suffering caused by cancer. After 11 years at ACS CAN, 2019 for me was a year of personal and professional growth centered on embracing my new leadership role, and thinking strategically about how we can best protect and support the millions of people who have been, and will be, diagnosed with cancer. I am so honored to lead ACS CAN, and feel energized when thinking about the incredible work I know we’ll accomplish in 2020.
We made important progress in 2019 in multiple areas of cancer-related public policy and in communities across the country. I wrote in March about the reintroduction of the Removing Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screenings Act that would address surprise bills for seniors on Medicare undergoing a colonoscopy; that bill passed the U.S. House at the end of the year, after consistent engagement by ACS CAN advocates. Congress included a huge boost in funding for medical research, cancer control programs and cancer registries in its year-end funding bill, a success that ACS CAN volunteers and staff advocated for throughout the year. ACS CAN worked to reshape the dialogue around the essential role Medicaid plays in maintaining healthy communities and economies. Tobacco control was a particularly prominent issue throughout 2019, and ACS CAN was on the record at the federal, state and local levels of government advocating for comprehensive policies that protect our children from the dangers of tobacco products.
It’s not to say we didn’t have setbacks in 2019. Our work to advance cancer-fighting policies at every level of government is often delayed or derailed; it takes years to see tangible results in some cases. The most rewarding thing about working with patient advocates, however, is knowing that your colleagues are determined to have as significant an impact as possible on your mission. ACS CAN staff and volunteers refuse to be deterred when a vote doesn’t go their way, or a piece of legislation doesn’t go far enough to help prevent or treat cancer. They’re ready to work on it all over again during the next state session, the next Congress, the next legislative or regulatory opportunity. It’s incredible to witness the sheer perseverance our advocates bring to the table every day, and it’s why I truly love the work that we do.
A sincere thank you to everyone who supported our fight against cancer last year. Every phone call, legislative meeting, Facebook post and donation moved our mission forward. I look forward to partnering with you in 2020 as we fight to reduce the cancer burden across the nation.