Courage in Action: Cancer Survivors Unite at State Capitol to Advocate for Change

Illinois Must Do Better to Reduce the Burden of Cancer

May 7, 2024

SPRINGFIELD, IL—Today, cancer patients, survivors and caregivers from across the state traveled to the Statehouse to meet with their elected officials during Cancer Action Day. They wore their “suits and sneakers” to ask lawmakers to make cancer a policy priority.

“As a breast cancer survivor, I know the importance of preventing cancer and improving access to care all too well,” said Maggie Powell, cancer survivor and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteer. “In Springfield today, I let our lawmakers know that they must do all they can to reduce the toll of cancer on Illinoisans. Illinois can and must do better.”

Advocates asked lawmakers to support legislation improving access to guideline recommended genetic testing for inherited gene mutations by capping burdensome patient cost-sharing requirements at no more than $50. While the legislation provides coverage for guideline recommended cancer screening based on a patient’s risk, ACS CAN is disappointed that the legislation allows for cost-sharing for these cancer screenings, as the cost is a known barrier to the uptake of preventive services. However, the legislation would help ensure individuals have access to critical information regarding their cancer risk and the recommended cancer screenings based on that risk to catch possible cancer early.

Additionally, advocates asked lawmakers to support legislation that will improve diversity and reduce barriers to clinical trials, essential in the fight against cancer. At present, clinical trials often suffer from a lack of diversity, with underrepresentation of certain demographic groups such as people of color, women and older adults. This disparity hampers the relevance of study findings and perpetuates health care inequities, as treatments may be less effective across diverse populations.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States among men and women combined. Here in Illinois, an estimated 6,140 residents were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 2,090 will pass away this year. Right now, the state’s colorectal cancer screening program is funded at 1 million annually, and advocates have asked that the funding be increased to 1.5 million annually to help more Illinoisans access care to detect and treat colorectal cancer.   

An estimated 78,200 Illinoisans will be diagnosed with cancer, and 23,280 are expected to die from the devastating disease. Those gathered at the Statehouse today are calling on Illinois lawmakers to change this by taking steps to prioritize the fight against cancer. 


More Press Releases AboutColorectal Cancer, Access to Health Care, Illinois

Media Contacts

Michelle Zimmerman
Associate Director, Regional Media Advocacy