Nearly 700 cancer patients, survivors and their loved ones from all 50 states will dial into calls and log onto virtual meetings this week to ask members of Congress to make the fight against cancer a national priority. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is hosting its annual Leadership Summit and Lobby Day virtually for the first time. While the event will look different, the advocates’ dedication to critical issues, including increased cancer research and prevention funding and improved and more equitable access to clinical trials remains the same.
“Cancer hasn’t stopped, so neither have we. Congress must take action to address the needs of cancer patients during and beyond the pandemic,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of ACS CAN. “Emergency funding alone is not enough. We need consistent and significant increases in cancer research and prevention funding to ensure we maximize past investments and continue to make significant progress preventing and treating a disease that is projected to kill more than 600,000 Americans this year.”
In addition to urging lawmakers to boost research and prevention funding, ACS CAN volunteer advocates will also encourage lawmakers to advance legislation that addresses disparities in cancer care and supports more equitable access to cancer clinical trials through the Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act (the Act). Communities of color and other medically underserved groups continue to have higher cancer rates and are less likely to be diagnosed early or receive optimal treatment compared to other groups.
The virtual meetings follow a Lights of Hope Across America event held Saturday where 45,000 lit bags decorated with the names of those who’ve fought cancer were displayed in homes nationwide as a powerful message of hope. The event replaced the annual Lights of Hope ceremony which usually takes place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.