Nearly 100 cancer survivors, caregivers and their families from across the state gathered in Jefferson City today to urge lawmakers to protect young people from skin cancer and increase funding for cancer prevention programs.
The visit was part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s annual Day at the Capitol. Throughout the day, advocates met with their lawmakers and urged them to 1) keep young people under age 18 from using indoor tanning devices, 2) maintain tobacco prevention funding to help Missourians quit smoking and 3) uphold funding for the state’s Show-Me Healthy Women program to support breast and cervical cancer screenings for uninsured and under-insured women.
Currently, Missouri allows minors aged 17 or younger to use an indoor tanning device with parental consent. A bill currently making its way through the General Assembly would prohibit any young person under age 18 from tanning. Indoor tanning is the most avoidable cause of skin cancer, and in the U.S., more than 6,000 cases of melanoma can be attributed to indoor tanning annually.
Ally Healey, of St. Louis, is a melanoma survivor who tanned throughout her teenage years. A mother of three, Healey was diagnosed at age 29 and later found that her cancer had spread. Now in remission, Healey advocates for indoor tanning restrictions so that no young person has to face a cancer diagnosis.
“No one deserves to pay for the mistakes of their youth with their life,” Healey said. “I may be alive now and have beaten melanoma, but I am always looking over my shoulder to see if it’s back. I’m here in Jefferson City today to share my story and tell lawmakers that our kids deserve protection from skin cancer.”
ACS CAN volunteers also asked their legislators to protect funding for two statewide programs: Show-Me Healthy Women and the Comprehensive Tobacco Control Program. In 2019, more than 35,000 Missourians will be diagnosed with cancer. Funding for these programs is essential to preventing cancer diagnoses and saving lives that would have been lost to the disease.
“Many cancer deaths could be avoided if we continue to invest in these programs,” said Emily Kalmer, Missouri government relations director for ACS CAN. “Show-Me Healthy Women offers Pap tests and mammograms to medically underserved women, who are less likely to access these lifesaving screenings, and Missouri’s Tobacco Quitline connects people who smoke with free resources to help them break their addiction. But if we don’t prioritize funding for these programs, we’ll never fully experience these benefits.”
About ACS CAN
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit www.fightcancer.org.