Survivors, Caregivers Urge Lawmakers to Prioritize Cancer

February 1, 2018

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Feb. 1, 2018 – Cancer survivors, caregivers and their families from across the state traveled to the West Virginia State Capitol today and called on the Legislature to prioritize the 12,110 West Virginians who will be diagnosed with cancer in 2018.

The visit was part of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s annual Day at the Capitol, which brought cancer advocates together to 1) urge lawmakers to improve patients’ quality of life through expanded access to palliative care and 2) fully fund statewide tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

“Cancer death rates continue to decrease nationwide, but we still haven’t fully implemented proven ways to prevent the disease in the first place,” said Rosemary Thomas, a lead ACS CAN volunteer from Elkins. “Nearly 5,000 West Virginians will still lose their lives to cancer in 2018 alone. We’re here today to ask lawmakers to improve palliative care access and commit to proven methods to stop tobacco addiction.”

Specifically, ACS CAN volunteers asked lawmakers to:

  • Expand access to palliative care and help improve patients’ quality of life. Palliative care is specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses like cancer. It’s carried out by a team of doctors, nurses and other providers to manage patients’ symptoms, understand their goals and help them select treatment options. It’s appropriate for patients at any age and any stage of an illness and can be administered alongside curative treatment. Because it has been proven to reduce health-care costs, boost patient satisfaction and improve overall outcomes, palliative care is one of the fastest-growing trends in health-care. But many states, including West Virginia, fall short in offering adequate access to it.
  • Restore $5 million in funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. West Virginia’s nearly 25 percent adult smoking rate ranks far above the national average of 15.5 percent, and 4,300 people in the state lose their lives to tobacco-related illnesses every year. It’s estimated that tobacco use costs the state $1 billion in health care expenditures. Fully funding West Virginia’s tobacco prevention and cessation programs would ensure fewer young people ever begin a tobacco addiction and help adults quit for good.

ACS CAN is the nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate organization of the American Cancer Society, 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

Media Contacts

Tracy Lytwyn
Sr. Specialist, Media Advocacy