WASHINGTON, D.C. – September 10, 2013 – More than 600 cancer patients, survivors, caregivers, their families, and staff from all 50 states and nearly every congressional district will unite on Capitol Hill today to ask their members of Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is hosting its annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day to urge lawmakers to restore and sustain funding for cancer research and proven prevention and early detection programs, improve access to palliative care as an extra layer of support for those with chronic disease, and increase federal tobacco taxes.
“The federal government has a critical role to play in the fight to defeat a disease that kills 1,500 Americans each day,” said John R. Seffrin, PhD, chief executive officer of ACS CAN, the advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society. “Lawmakers can strengthen the fight against cancer by committing necessary federal funding to promote medical research and guarantee access to proven prevention measures, raising cigarette taxes to prevent kids from smoking and improving patients’ quality of life by ensuring access to care that treats the person as well as their disease.”
Cancer advocates will be urging lawmakers to ensure that the fight against cancer remains a top national priority by restoring funding for critical research at the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute and proven prevention and early detection programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that was cut through the sequester. Advocates will also be encouraging lawmakers to support legislation that would improve the quality of life of cancer patients by increasing access to an extra layer of care alongside treatment. Additionally, volunteers will call on their elected officials to support a 94 cent federal tobacco tax increase that will deter price-sensitive teens from picking up a deadly habit
“A disease that impacts 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women in their lifetimes requires the full and unwavering commitment of Congress to take action to help prevent, treat and survive it,” said Christopher W. Hansen, president of ACS CAN. “We are calling on lawmakers to take a stand and not let another year pass – a year when nearly 580,000 people in America will die from cancer – by supporting what works and funding research to find answers that still elude us.”
Dr. Edward E. Partridge, director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Dr. Donald L. Trump, president and chief executive of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY, cancer center directors who have been forced to discontinue promising research projects because of reduced funding levels, will be joining the volunteers as they visit their lawmakers, and a group of Division I college basketball coaches, including Mitch Henderson from Princeton University, Chris Mooney from the University of Richmond and Roy Williams from the University of North Carolina, this morning will cheer the ACS CAN volunteers on as they head to Capitol Hill. The coaches, who are members of Coaches vs. Cancer®, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches™, are putting aside their on-court rivalries and teaming up to ask Congress to make the fight to defeat cancer a national priority.
“We need lawmakers, regardless of their party affiliation, to put aside their differences and work together to defeat a disease that touches constituents in every congressional district across the country,” said Robert R. Kugler, volunteer chairman of ACS CAN’s Board of Directors.
Advocates will be on hand for the presentation of ACS CAN’s National Distinguished Advocacy Awards. This year’s award recipients are U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe and Rep. Marti Coley, speaker pro tempore of the Florida House of Representatives. The National Distinguished Advocacy Award is ACS CAN’s most prestigious advocacy honor and is awarded for leadership in the fight against cancer.
The ACS CAN annual leadership summit and lobby day coincides this year with the fifth anniversary of the Judicial Advocacy Initiative (JAI), a program where lawyers from four multi-national law firms – K&L Gates, Kilpatrick Townsend, McKenna, Long & Aldridge and Sherman & Howard – have generously donated more than $1 million in services to date to ACS CAN to help in the fight against cancer. Volunteer attorneys have contributed their expertise on a wide variety of issues, including monitoring court cases, writing amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs, and navigating regulations that can have an impact on cancer patients and survivors.
The event also falls during the year marking the 100th birthday of the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society was established in 1913 as American Society for the Control of Cancer, and after 100 years, has achieved many milestones in the fight against cancer. As the American Cancer Society continues to invest in cancer research and provide support and information for people with the disease, ACS CAN is working with elected officials and grassroots advocates to make this cancer’s last century.
The day will culminate tonight with an evening Lights of Hope ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol steps, with nearly 15,000 lights spelling “HOPE.” Each light will honor a cancer survivor or memorialize a loved one who lost his or her fight with the disease.
ACS CAN is the non-profit, non-partisan advocacy affiliate organization of the American Cancer Society, which is dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem. ACS CAN works to encourage lawmakers, candidates and government officials to support laws and policies that will make cancer a top national priority. ACS CAN gives ordinary people extraordinary power to fight cancer. For more information, visit www.acscan.org.
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