Day one of Call-On Congress has ended, but the work of Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates has just begun.

150 advocates from all over the country are meeting in Washington, D.C. to train for their meetings with offices of elected officials. Advocates will be pushing Fight CRC’s legislative goals to increase funding for colorectal cancer research, to protect cancer patients’ rights under the Affordable Care Act in this new administration, and to remove barriers in CRC screening.

Introduction to Advocacy

Advocates started the morning with an introduction to what Call-on Congress is all about: Sharing their stories to affect policy making. Fight CRC staff and the Grassroots Action Committee (GAC) spoke to advocates about what to expect over the next two days, how to continue their advocacy at home, and how to effectively share their story.

Keynote Address

Dr. LaTese L. Briggs spoke about her report for Faster Cures, “Colorectal Cancer: A Giving Smarter Guide,” for which she was the lead author. Dr. Briggs explained it is vital for research efforts to focus on patients’ need for simple, direct information.

She also spoke about how patients can affect research via advocacy; by making the choice to get informed and meaningfully engaged in research, they can empower themselves and the entire CRC community.

Advocacy and Research Panels 

Continuing with Dr. Briggs’ call for advocacy in cancer research, the first day of training included several panel sessions focused on why scientists and researchers need colorectal cancer patients to use their voice in the fight for a cure.

Speakers included:

  • Dustin Deming, MD, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center

  • Bao Lam, MD, Senior Clinical Director, Merck

  • Angela Nicholas, MD and caregiver

  • Dennis Ahren, MD, University of Colorado Hereditary Cancer Clinic

  • Al Benson, MD, Northwestern University

  • Jo Beth Petty, Stage IIIc Survivor and Kristy Petty, Caregiver

Main points discussed during the panels included:

  • Vocal patients are important because thanks to them, there has been improvement in colorectal cancer research

  • Discussion of family history is a vital tool for CRC prevention

  • Advocacy for the increase of research funding can directly benefit clinical trials and their expansion

  • Survivorship talk with oncologists and primary care providers is essential for patients and their mental/physical health

  • Removal of screening barriers should be a priority between young adults and minorities

  • Immunotherapy might be the future of CRC treatment, which makes advocacy for funding increase more important than ever

  • Caregiver burnout is real and needs to be addressed

Sharing Your Story 

To end the first day of training, advocates shared their powerful stories and why they’re attending Call-on Congress. Survivors, caregivers, and loved ones spoke openly about how colorectal cancer has affected their lives. Although many stories included loss, anger, and fear, advocates bonded over one simple word: Hope.

“I’m here to tell you that your world doesn’t end,” said survivor Jennifer Bracey.

Stay tuned for more Call-On Congress updates and don’t forget to to watch our live stream on Facebook

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One comment on “Call-On Congress: Day One Recap”

  1. 1
    Marlene on March 14, 2017

    Thanks for all you are doing for all of the survivors and us, the caregivers and families. We are with you all in spirit!

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