Last week I attended the awesome American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Leadership Summit & Lobby Day in Washington, DC. It’s one of my favorite cancer advocacy in action events. Our goal: fight cancer. We achieved that – 588 cancer advocates from all 50 states and Puerto Rico attended more 400 meetings with our federal legislators and their staff. Amazing!
I shared in a previous blog post about our issues/asks for this lobby day – cancer research funding, closing a loophole for Medicare colorectal cancer screenings, palliative care and hospice care education and training, tobacco control. We, thankfully, had some great meetings with legislators who support our issues, making this day a great example of cancer advocacy in action! The one thing I’ve learned about fighting cancer is that no one likes or supports cancer. We ALL want to stop this disease, no matter the political party. We sometimes go about it in differing ways, that admittedly can cause disagreements, but when we keep the focus on fighting this disease, we accomplish great things.
We ended the day of meetings with the Lights of Hope ceremony and display. This year, more than 40,000 luminary bags surrounded the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. Each bag represents someone touched by cancer, in memory or honor. It a moving, emotional reminder that our fight continues. More than 16 million Americans are cancer survivors, including my sister and me. An estimated 1.7 million will hear ‘you have cancer’ this year, as I did. Thousands more will die from the disease, as my dad did years ago. Yes, our fight continues. The Lights of Hope ceremony gives us….well, hope. We hear of advances in treatment and see the thousands of people that we fight for at these events and beyond.