Oregon Advocates Meet at White House

Yesterday two of our long-time colorectal cancer advocates, LaRisha and Michell Baker, along with president Carlea Bauman and policy expert Camille Bonta, met with Tricia Schmitt at the White House. Ms. Schmitt met with our advocates to discuss funding for colorectal cancer programs at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.)


Michell, Carlea and LaRisha


Our team, joined by two gastroenterologists, met at the White House to talk about the importance of maintaining the funding for lifesaving programs like the CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP)  currently in 26 states and four tribes. As co-chairs of the cancer control committee in Oregon, the Baker sisters gave first-hand stories and statistics about the importance funding of CDC in Oregon.

The meeting was an opportunity for them to share “wins” they’ve witnessed in Oregon.  Funded by the CDC, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) rolled out an educational campaign called “The Cancer You Can Prevent.” The goal was to increase colorectal cancer screening rates among Oregonians age 50 to 75 (45 for African Americans) to 80 percent in five years.

For states like Oregon, 82 percent of insured Oregonians have yet to be screened for colorectal cancer, much in part to a lack of education.  Of the 220 colonoscopies performed during the campaign, he found and removed polyps in 44.5 percent of the patients. Of the polyps, at least 70 percent were precancerous. Every polyp found makes this a successful use of funding!


Dr. Walter Park and Dr. Brian Jacobson with American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) along with Michell Baker, LaRisha Baker and president Carlea Bauman

Following the meeting, Ms. Schmitt requested follow-up information and articles for future meetings on the topic. Although the climate of our nation’s budgeting process is not gratuitous toward program expansion right now, the two sisters communicated the importance (and impact) of colorectal cancer education and the necessity to keep colorectal cancer programs separate from other cancer programs.

They were encouraged by the honest questions and intentionality of the White House to find solutions that meet needs (and fit budget.)


Michell and LaRisha at the White House


Michell and LaRisha’s experience goes to show the power of advocacy and using your voice to help others. The sisters run a colorectal cancer organization in honor of their dad Steve who died at age 56 from colorectal cancer. Because colorectal cancer hits close to home for the Baker family, they’ve made it their mission to speak out and prevent others from experiencing the same loss.

We’re thankful to LaRisha and Michell for speaking out with us!

If you’re interested in using your voice to make a difference, learn about colorectal cancer advocacy and request to join our Advocates of Fight Colorectal Cancer Facebook group!