How 4 Young Survivors Changed the Call-on Congress

This year’s Call-on Congress introduced something new:  a scholarship fund.

One survivor honoring her mother opened the door for three fellow colorectal cancer survivors to join our advocacy efforts.

And what a great door they opened. Here are their stories and how they set a precedent for future Call-on Congress events.

Finding Family Strength



We had the opportunity of meeting Joyce Anne Ware Longfellow, mother of colorectal cancer survivor Liz Dennis, at the 2012 Call-on Congress. Liz attended many previous Call-on Congress events and brought her mother last year. Both walked away determined to bring more people in 2013.

Liz’s battle was not the first time her family had assembled to fight colorectal cancer. She was 14-years-old when her Dad, Dean Dennis, was diagnosed with Stage II colon cancer at age of 40. Liz watched him fight for 33 years. Multiple surgeries kept her fighting dad going, even when he ultimately had to get a colectomy.

When Liz was diagnosed at nearly the same age as her father, she had the perfect role model to learn from. With her father’s example of strength and her mother’s unending support (she stayed nearly EVERY night with her in the hospital and went to EVERY appointment), Liz fought colon cancer. And beat it.

She’s now a strong advocate on the Hill at Call-on Congress each year.

Giving Through Grief

Unfortunately, Joyce passed away in September 2012.

As Liz grieved the loss of her beloved mother (and caretaker), she decided to honor her through a special way since it was also her mother’s goal to have more people at the Call-on Congress.

She created a scholarship fund. Her fund enabled three grassroots advocates to join us on The Hill for the 2013 Call-on Congress.

Liz specifically wanted the scholarships to go to first-time attendees who’d never experienced the Call-on Congress.

And we have to say – this year’s scholarship opened the doors for three fantastic women to join us.

Scholarship Recipients for Call-on Congress


Sheila, Liz, Candace and Vanessa


Three colorectal cancer survivors came to the Call-on Congress with Liz’s scholarships. Three strong women carried their jaw-dropping stories into congressional offices to advocate for colorectal cancer awareness and medical research funding.


A stage IV survivor from Bronx, NY, Vanessa wanted to come to Call-on Congress to “abolish the outdated and incorrect idea that colon cancer is an older man’s disease.” She explained that her entire life is dedicated to giving back. She’s participated in many activities that involve supporting other survivors but wanted to get involved in advocacy. Fight Colorectal Cancer’s Call-on Congress was the perfect event for her to jump in and a scholarship made that possible.


Candace, from Chicago, IL, was diagnosed with stage IIB colon cancer in 2003. She told us, “I am attending on behalf of myself, other survivors and those to be diagnosed after me. I hope to accomplish raising an increased awareness about the need to make colon cancer awareness and screenings a priority.” Candace hopes to help make March all about BLUE, just like October is much about PINK. Having the 2013 Call-on Congress fall within Candace’s 10th year of survivorship made the event even more special.


A IIIC colon cancer survivor from Ohio, Sheila came to Call-on Congress to “tell my story that it is not only an old man’s disease as I was 38 at time of diagnosis.” Not knowing much about the event, she saw the opportunity for a scholarship on Facebook and signed up. She and her husband traveled to DC to advocate on The Hill and share their powerful story. Wheels started turning during the Call-on Congress and they’re looking into how more family members can come next year to continue the advocacy efforts.

Scholarships Open Doors – Will You Help?

The scholarships allowed 3 amazing survivors to participate in our Call-on Congress. Each used their opportunity to share about colorectal cancer and make a difference on The Hill.

They were a voice for those who could not join us. And their voices were heard.

The scholarship fund created by Liz changed the Call-on Congress this year. It introduced a program that allowed advocates to attend; advocates who needed a scholarship to come.

And we’re looking to do the same for next year.

Liz has offered to match dollar-for-dollar any funds donated toward 2014 Call-on Congress scholarships.

If you’d like to support the Call-on Congress scholarship fund, please follow this link to donate.

Let’s get behind a cure together.


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