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What the Government Shutdown Means for Colorectal Cancer

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After 15 days, most of us have seen at least one way the government shutdown is impacting our country. Some have friends and family members on furlough who’ve finally had time to paint their bathrooms. Others’ vacation plans are ruined since national monuments and parks are closed.

But the ripples of the shutdown go beyond closings, halted jobs and a growing annoyance with our country’s leaders. The shutdown is impacting cancer patients and researchers across the globe and hope for a cure.

The Government and Cancer Research

Last week the Washington Post ran a front-page story about a beautiful young mom whose treatment for sarcoma is halted because of the shutdown. She, along with many other cancer patients across the country, are facing critical situations where the treatments from clinical trials they were supposed to participate in are not available at this time. Even those in the midst of government-funded clinical trials are experiencing letdowns thanks to the shutdown.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and specifically the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are the single-largest hubs of cancer research in the United States. These organizations fund and run trials for all cancer types, including colorectal cancer.

With the government shutdown, cancer research is significantly impacted. The NCI has furloughed 80 percent of their staff and discouraged external researchers from submitting grant proposals at this time. Reviews of proposals are also delayed, if not on hold. While the NIH hopes to soon have the shutdown lifted, they’re preparing reviewers, colleagues, researchers and patients for a delayed funding process for existing grants and health research.

The review and funding of NCI-designated cancer centers that treat many colorectal patients is at risk. Everyone within the NIH and the external organizations dependent on its funding and oversight are feeling the impact.

That means universities and hospitals across the country are grappling with what the NIH shutdown might do to their work. “Any new trial that is awaiting funding, any new grant that is going to be reviewed that involves clinical research, clinical trials … those things are on hold,” says Anne Klibanski, chief academic officer with Partners HealthCare, which runs hospitals such as Massachusetts General, in Boston. Read the full story

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What Can We Do?

Each year, Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates hit the Hill and specifically ask for NCI funding. We understand that in order to fight cancer, we must fund research. And (like it or not), much of that research takes place under the umbrella of the federal government.

While Congress continues to debate and attempt to lift the shutdown, our voices need to continually be heard. Here are two ways you can join us:

eAdvocacy

Make sure that you are voicing your opinions to your member of Congress. Tell them how the shutdown impacts cancer research. After all, they are elected to represent YOU. Learn more about how to make your voice heard through social media on our eAdvocacy page. Join our Advocates of Fight Colorectal Cancer group on Facebook to get real-time updates from our team.

Make a Donation to the Call-on Congress Scholarship Fund

In light of the shutdown, it is critical that Fight Colorectal Cancer has a strong presence on the Hill in March 2014. Call-on Congress will take patients, caregivers and others passionate about colorectal cancer and cancer research and put them in the offices of those responsible for this shutdown.

Our voices will be heard.

A scholarship fund has been set up to get more participants to Washington, D.C. next year. An advocate who recognizes the importance of the event has offered to match the Call-on Congress Scholarship Fund dollar-for-dollar. 

Please consider making a donation today to help get colorectal cancer survivors and caregivers on the Hill next March. Help us make sure our members of Congress know how we feel and what needs to happen to get behind a cure.

Donate today.

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