Cancer Patients, Survivors to Congress: Make Cancer a National Priority

Olympian Shannon Miller, NCAA Basketball Coaches, Cancer Center Directors and Corporate Leaders Join Advocates in Nation 's Capital

September 15, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. September 15, 2014 More than 600 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones from all 50 states and nearly every congressional district are on Capitol Hill this week to ask their members of Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is hosting its annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day to urge lawmakers to protect funding for cancer research and prevention programs, endorse legislation that supports patients ' quality of life and ensure lifesaving colon cancer screenings are affordable for seniors. Science has made major advances in the way cancer is prevented, detected and treated, but defeating the disease requires that lawmakers support legislation that enables additional scientific discovery and makes lifesaving approaches widely available, said John R. Seffrin, chief executive officer of ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. People with cancer and their families nationwide are calling on Congress to help make this century cancer 's last by prioritizing the fight against a disease that kills 1,600 people in America daily. In Capitol Hill meetings Tuesday, ACS CAN 's volunteer advocates will urge lawmakers to increase federal research funding at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They will also encourage lawmakers to co-sponsor legislation that supports patients ' quality of life by increasing access to palliative care, an extra layer of support that can be provided at any age or any stage of illness. Additionally, they will call on lawmakers to close a loophole in Medicare that often results in surprise costs for seniors when a polyp is found during a routine colonoscopy. Congress can help fight cancer, which will impact half of all men and a third of all women in their lifetimes, said Christopher W. Hansen, president of ACS CAN. The cancer patients and survivors who have traveled to Washington this week deserve a commitment from their lawmakers to take action to defeat this disease. Today at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill, advocates will hear from the directors of leading cancer research centers about the importance of federal funding. Stanton L. Gerson, MD, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center in Cleveland, OH, and Timothy Eberlein, MD, director of the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington University of St. Louis, will discuss the impact of inadequate federal funding on promising research projects. Tuesday morning, Division I basketball coaches Phil Martelli from Saint Joseph 's University, Frank Martin from the University of South Carolina and Mark Turgeon from the University of Maryland will rally advocates as they head to Capitol Hill for meetings. The coaches are members of Coaches vs. CancerŒ¬, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches䋢. Tuesday evening will feature a moving luminary display at the U.S Capitol Reflecting Pool with nearly 15,000 lights spelling the words HOPE and CURE. Each light will honor a cancer survivor or memorialize a loved one who lost his or her fight with the disease. The ACS CAN Lights of Hope ceremony is presented by Celgene. ACS CAN will honor lawmakers and others who have made exemplary contributions to the cancer fight. The National Distinguished Advocacy Award, ACS CAN 's most prestigious honor, is being presented to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Arizona State Rep. Heather Carter (R), and Michigan State Rep. Matt Lori (R). ACS CAN 's Judicial Advocacy Initiative award, which recognizes attorneys from multi-national law firms who generously donate their services to the cancer fight, is being given to Awista Ayazi from McKenna, Long & Aldridge, and Brian Eberle from Sherman & Howard. Wednesday morning, ACS CAN will present its corporate recognition award to CVS Chief Health Strategy Officer Thomas Moriarty, for CVS Health 's leadership in promoting public health and wellness, which is exemplified by the company 's bold decision to discontinue tobacco sales. Advocates will also hear Wednesday from seven-time Olympic medalist and ovarian cancer survivor Shannon Miller, who cites her personal journey as an inspiration for women to make their health a priority. Miller is cancer free and is a strong advocate for research and early detection. As people with cancer well know, the disease does not discriminate by political party, said Christy Russell, M.D., volunteer chairperson of ACS CAN 's Board of Directors. If families nationwide can join together to battle cancer, lawmakers can put politics aside and prioritize the disease Americans fear most. ACS CAN is the non-profit, non-partisan advocacy affiliate organization of the American Cancer Society, which is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Alissa Crispino or Steven Weiss American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Phone: 202-661-5772 or 202-661-5711 Email: [email protected] or [email protected] #cancer #acscan #research #prevention