Five years ago this March a spirited group of colorectal cancer advocates met in Washington to launch C3:Colorectal Cancer Coalition. Their goal: build a strong voice for change to wipe out suffering and death from colorectal cancer.
Led by Nancy Roach, C3′s founder and chair of the board of directors, the group set out to create an organization to help people concerned about colon and rectal cancer to advocate for change in policy, research, and awareness.
Most of all, C3 wanted to give those living with colorectal cancer the tools to advocate for themselves.
They said that C3 was Changing the Future of Colorectal Cancer Today!
From its launch on March 13, 2005 C3 has:
- Pushed for RESEARCH for better screening, diagnosis, and treatment of colorectal cancer.
- Pushed for POLICY for decisions that support its mission.
- Pushed for AWARENESS so people would know that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable.
Realizing the importance of being in Washington, DC to have an impact on Congress and the federal agencies concerned with cancer, C3 found its first home in a small room in the Genetic Alliance offices on Connecticut Avenue. Through the generosity of Genetic Alliance and its CEO Sharon Terry, there was room for a desk and telephone for one staff member.
Dusty Weaver, the first C3 Grassroots Coordinator, recalls that early start and what came after,
It was a small group which gathered five years ago for the start of C3. The office was a very small room in the offices of another organization and there was a staff of one. Now the space is much larger along with the paid staff. One thing stayed the same…the focus on people living with colorectal cancer; combining voices to make themselves heard in order to make a difference.
Advocate Pam Seijo remembers,
When I walked in that room at the Tabard Inn five years ago with the few people, I wondered what could a handful of people could accomplish. After being there for about five minutes and seeing the motivation, enthusiasm, and passion, I knew great things would happen. Some of the best things are the growth of the C3 staff and the number of advocates. Having Call on Congress and training CRC survivors and caregivers each year to advocate on Capitol Hill shows that change is happening in the CRC world. Just seeing H.R 1189 introduced and how close of a reality it is as being passed gives me the feeling of our voices do make a difference.
Judi Sohn, a talented graphic designer and web specialist, joined the staff as operations director, helping to create a corporate face for C3 and building its presence on the Internet. Her skills enabled C3 get off the ground with staff and volunteers connecting remotely from across the country, save money by not investing in lots of computer hardware, and keep our data in the clouds and our feet on the ground. Recently she wrote about Cloud Computing for Small Nonprofits: Lessons Learned from 5 Years in the Cloud for the Nonprofit Technology Network. She said,
A staff member or volunteer with access to a browser connected to the web has everything he/she needs to fight colorectal cancer with us. The services and tools we use to run and build C3 have allowed us to expand and add programs while keeping our operating expenses low, maximizing every dollar we raise.
C3 was Nancy Roach’s dream, and her passion and energy have been key to having it accepted by researchers and policy planner alike. If there’s a tough question on the table, Nancy has been there to ask it and to insist on answers.
Looking back on five years, Nancy says that the best thing that has happened is getting advocates involved. H.R.1189 — The Colorectal Cancer Prevention, Early Detection, and Treatment Act– wouldn’t have been introduced and funding wouldn’t be available for colorectal cancer research through the Department of Defense, with C3 advocates, according to Nancy.
Today C3 has a staff of seven, five in an office in Alexandria, Virginia, and two who use Sohn’s technology connections to work remotely.
Patients and their families have access to research-based information about colorectal cancer both in print and on the web and can call the Answer Line to talk to a trained staff person with their questions.
Each year more grassroots advocates join the effort to change the future for colorectal cancer,
- Coming to Call on Congress each March.
- Responding to action alerts to get critical legislation passed.
- Serving as research advocates in cancer cooperative groups and throughout the NCI.
- Spreading the message that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable, and beatable.
Happy Anniversary C3!
Kate forgot to mention one other very important step C3 took in 2005: We hired her to write for our website. In 2005, Kate already had an outstanding reputation as a survivor and advocate in the colorectal cancer advocate community. We were lucky to have her join us. Kate has an incredible ability to take the most complex science and break it down, in writing, to just what a patient needs to know to be their own best advocate. Since then, Kate has written nearly 1000 posts for the site, many of which are referenced on other websites for their clear language and credible insight. Thank you, Kate! – ED