Most of you know my personal connection to cancer. A few months ago, I finished treatment for my third cancer. My younger sister is a melanoma survivor. Our dad died 15 years ago from multiple myeloma. Too many of my family and friends are affected by cancer. With more than 16 million cancer survivors and an estimated 1.76 million people diagnosed this year, the fight again cancer is personal for everyone.
This week I’m honored to be in Washington, DC with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network to fight cancer. More than 500 advocates from our states will meet with our legislators to ensure fighting cancer remains a priority. Because it has to be a priority. This disease touches too many.
So we fight this disease. Together. For the millions of cancer survivors, like my sister and me. For the people who will hear ‘you have cancer’ this year, like I did. For the more than 606,000 people who will die from cancer this year. For the families and friends touched by the disease.
Cancer fighting issues
These are some issues we’ll ask our senators and representatives to support:
Cancer research: Research helped see a 27% decrease in cancer deaths from 1991 to 2016. But there are 1,660 deaths per day to cancer. Unacceptable and tragic. Cancer research saved my life through three cancers (read my blog highlighting how research affected my outcomes). Our request: Increased funding levels for cancer research that ensure continued progress: $41.6 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $6.5 billion for the National Cancer Institute
Palliative Care & Hospice Education and Training Act: Palliative care is a fairly new medical specialty and it works to improve quality, control costs and enhances patient and family care and satisfaction of individuals with serious or life-threatening illnesses. The bill includes implementation of palliative care and hospice centers to improve training, workforce development, awareness and research. Our request: Support the bill through co-sponsor and pushing for vote this year.
Removing barriers to colorectal cancer screening (for Medicare patients): An estimated 145,600 people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year, with the majority being Medicare beneficiaries. Colorectal cancer is one of the few cancers that can be completely prevented through screening. While most private insurance companies provide screening without cost-sharing, Medicare requires a 20 percent cost sharing for screening colonoscopies if polyps are removed. This is ridiculous considering most Medicare patients are on fixed incomes and fall into our vulnerable populations. So this bill closes the loophole by removing the cost sharing for Medicare beneficiaries. Our request: Ask Senate and House leadership to push this bill to a vote this year.
Protecting kids from tobacco products: More than 480,000 deaths each year are caused by cigarette smoking, including 28 percent of all cancer deaths. Did you know the most commonly used tobacco products by youth are e-cigarettes and 97 percent of teens who use e-cigarettes use a flavored product? Our request: We’ll be asking Congress to help reverse the youth tobacco epidemic by restricting flavored tobacco products, restrict e-cigarette advertising, raise the federal minimum age to 21 and more.
Join the fight
I’m really excited and honored to be returning to Washington, DC to work with fellow cancer advocates, our legislators and their staff to push back against this disease that impacts millions. We’d love for you to get involved too! You can do it from your home – sign up for email alerts to take action on certain bills related to the above topics and more. Visit www.fightcancer.org to sign up for your state. Thank YOU for helping stop cancer.
*Sources: American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention