On Tuesday, March 6, Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates attending the 6th annual Call-on Congress heard from staff and experts about the challenges to spreading awareness of and increasing research into colorectal cancer amid national budget challenges.
Training sessions with Fight Colorectal Cancer staff gave advocates a real world view of the policy and legislative landscape for colorectal cancer. They were given information about key legislation, statistics and talking points for their meetings with lawmakers that will occur on Wednesday.
“It’s so exciting to be here in Washington and on Capitol Hill to see how it all works,” said Erica Lee, an advocate from California who is attending the conference. “It’s easy to complain about ‘politicians in Washington, DC,’ but here I’m part of the solution.” Erica recently lost her mother, Diane, to colorectal cancer.
Advocates can also access a virtual toolbox of outreach strategies, via the Fight Colorectal Cancer website under the Policy and Advocacy tab. Anyone interested in proposed legislation that Fight Colorectal Cancer supports can also find information in the Action Center.
Speakers included Dr. Jon Chung, a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Department of Radiation Oncology & Molecular Radiation Sciences. He is also Fight Colorectal Cancer’s 2011 Lisa Fund Research Grant recipient. Dr. Chung addressed the challenges young researchers have in getting their work funded as research budgets shrink, and the threat it poses to emerging research and drug development.
His remarks were followed by Dr. John Marshall, the clinical director of oncology at Georgetown University Hospital and a global leader in the research and development of drugs for colon cancer and other gastrointestinal cancers. In a difficult budget climate, Dr. Marshall addressed the challenges to sustain adequate levels of funding for cancer research programs.
At the end of their training, advocates received their Capitol Hill meeting schedules, and the groups that were assigned to attend meetings together rehearsed their talking points.
“I’m nervous, I’m excited. I can’t wait for tomorrow to get here. On the other hand, I’m glad I have some time to let all this information sink in,” said Erica. “It’s been a long day, but invigorating.”