Last week, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with more than 700 of my fellow American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) volunteers from across the country to participate in ACS CAN annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day. It was my honor to represent Pennsylvania’s 1st congressional district and to have the chance to urge my congressional representatives and their staffs to support legislation to increase cancer research funding, improve patient quality of life and increase access to colorectal cancer screenings for seniors. Congressional support for these policies can help make cancer a national priority and help end a disease that still kills more than 1,600 people each day in this country.
As an eighteen-year cancer survivor, I know the importance of the legislation we’re asking our Congressional members to support: not only to cancer patients, survivors and their families but to those who may be diagnosed in the future. The support of Congressman Robert Brady and Sens. I Robert Casey and Patrick Toomey could improve the health of our entire nation and save thousands of lives.
Past investments in cancer research are already saving lives. But if Congress doesn’t increase funding for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), future breakthroughs will be left to languish in labs along with research on medical issues associated with current cancer treatments and the long-term effects of the disease.
Another topic that argued for was to increase access to to palliative care that focuses on addressing the pain, stress and other symptoms that can accompany a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Palliative care is important for patients of any age and at any stage of a chronic illness to help improve the patient’s quality of life.
Our group also expressed concerns about access to colorectal cancer screenings for seniors on Medicare. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States, but half of these deaths can be prevented if people over the age of 50 receive recommended screenings. By supporting legislation to remove unfair cost barriers for seniors on Medicare, Congress can save lives.
As a former cancer patient, I know all too well the devastating impact of cancer. When I visited Washington, D.C., I asked all of the officials and their staffs to put aside partisan politics to to bring an end to cancer.
I consider myself fortunate to have survived my cancer diagnosis and to have had the opportunity to try and prevent others from hearing the words “you have cancer”.
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