Being a cancer advocate to help others is one of my greatest passions. As a bone cancer and melanoma survivor, and daughter who lost her dad to cancer, the fight against this disease is very personal. However, this fight goes far beyond my family’s story to also include dear friends and family, and their family and friends, and theirs, and soon it doesn’t matter the relationship. It simply matters that cancer affects too many people, and we need to stand up to it.
This week, I’m in Washington, DC attending a leadership summit and lobby day with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. I’m honored to be part of the volunteer leadership team in Michigan, working with legislators, staff and other advocates to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
Cancer research has always been personal for me. I am a bone cancer survivor, recognizing 20 years since I finished chemo, thanks to research. New medical techniques also helped catch my melanoma very early, thanks to research. My dad survived six years post-cancer diagnosis (after being told he might live three months), thanks to new treatment options created by research (I shared some of his story and research’s impact in this blog post).
Want a real time example of the benefits of medical research? Last month, I underwent surgery to replace some of the plastic and titanium parts of my knee hardware. It was both unexpected, and not. When I had surgery to remove and replace my femur, knee and upper tibia during bone cancer treatment, I always knew some parts would eventually wear out, especially with how physically active I am (you all know I’m slightly addicted to biking and hiking!). It just happened so unexpectedly quickly, and boom, I was in surgery. Thankfully all went great and every day I’m stronger. My point in sharing this…..I am 20-year bone cancer survivor with both of her legs, thanks to research. Advancements in research helped surgeons, like mine, focus on limb salvage instead of amputation when possible. It helped technology develop prothstetics to mimic bones, knees and other joints. It helped me keep my leg. Walking into the Senate and House office buildings is always personal, but this year, it will be that much more. I am grateful for medical research funding.
Most of you know I’ve traveled to DC many times as a cancer advocate. I love it, the energy and passion that surrounds me when working with others to fight this terrible disease. I wrote a blog about my advocacy trip last September, sharing some of why I am so passionate about this fight. Here are a few words that touch on that story:
“While I may feel a little obligated to speak out as I breathe since so many others can not, I mostly feel great passion and motivation to work for a positive change that can help others affected by cancer. There is a deep genuine belief in me that if we wrap our arms around the good, the strong, the dedicated, if we all as individuals stand together, this disease will not win. This disease has changed my life in many ways. It has broken me, motivated me, led me down many new paths, taken people, and brought people to my life. It is the one thing I think of every day for more than 20 years. It has taught me to stand up to fear and anger, embrace love, hope and kindness, grow courage, strength and motivation, seek love and laughter, enjoy the simple things. It has shown me that one person can make a difference to someone, and many people can impact millions.”
This week we are asking Congress to support increased funding for medical research, so more people can share their stories. Or simply not share a story because someday no one will be diagnosed with cancer (whew, that idea makes you want to cry tears of joy, right?). The Senate recently approved a $2 billion increase to the National Institutes of Health. We need the House to do the same. You can help – please contact your Representative today to ask them for their support in saving lives. You can also get involved with ACS CAN in your state.