As a volunteer cancer advocate, I know that public policy can be a vital tool in the fight against cancer. I have been working with other Washington state residents touched by cancer to educate elected officials about how their decisions can help prevent and fight the disease.
Earlier this month, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to represent the voice of cancer survivors and patients in the 8th Congressional District.
When I met with U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert’s legislative assistant, I thanked her for the congressman’s support of research funding through the National Institute of Health, and we discussed how critical research is to finding cures and stopping cancer before it starts.
I asked Reichert to protect funding for cancer research by ending sequestration cuts. I also discussed the merits of the proposal to raise the tobacco tax by 94 cents (the single most effective way to reduce youth smoking), and I asked the congressman to co-sponsor two bills that would improve treatment and quality of life for cancer patients and others with chronic disease.
I’m waiting to hear back from Reichert about how he will continue to make the fight against cancer a national priority.
Our elected officials need to hear from the nearly 14 million cancer survivors in this country and from those who love them. I encourage you to get involved. Visit www.acscan.org to get connected with others in the community working to finish the fight against cancer.
(Hedegaard is a volunteer with the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network.)