For the 12th year in a row, advocates from all over the country are attending Call-on Congress in Washington, D.C.
Fight Colorectal Cancer organizes this event every year to bring together those affected by colorectal cancer and take them to Capitol Hill, where they will advocate for specific issues that impact CRC patients, research, and screening.
At the start of day one, Fight CRC president Anjee Davis welcomed the attendees by sharing the organization’s mission to empower advocates to push better policies, to support research and education, and to create awareness in their communities.
Davis was followed by Fight CRC’s Grassroots Advocacy Manager, Julienne Gede Edwards, who gave an introduction to what advocacy truly is, and the legislative goals for this year.
These goals are:
- Funding research for colorectal cancer
- Removing barriers to screening
- Increasing access to treatment
Gede Edwards also explained the role the Grassroots Action Committee (GAC) and the Congressional Committee play in the advocacy journey.
The first panel consisted of representatives of international CRC advocacy groups Bowel Cancer UK, Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, Europa Colon, and Bowel Cancer Australia.
These groups acknowledged the barriers for screening that currently exist in their countries, such as language, taboo, and lack of resources. These factors directly influence the rise of CRC cases and early onset CRC.
In spite of this, there is “more hope than ever”, according to Barry Stein, president of Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada.
“Patients have the power to make changes,” stated Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer, emphasizing how important it is for patients to be their own advocates and share their story.
After a short break, Dr. Richard Goldberg, director of the West Virginia University Cancer Institute and member of Fight CRC’s Medical Advisory Board, gave the keynote address.
A discussion of Fight CRC’s investments in clinical research programs followed Dr. Goldberg’s address, and was led by Andi Dwyer, Fight CRC’s director of health promotion.
Advocates then mingled with their GAC mentors and fellow advocates throughout lunch, where they shared their stories and got to know each other better.
Following lunch, advocates attended breakout sessions focused on different topics, such as:
- Suvivorship care plans
- Research advocacy
- Coping and guilt management strategies
- Cooking and nutrition
- Stress reduction
After the breakout sessions, Fight CRC staff and experienced advocates led a discussion about how one can continue advocating after Call-on Congress.
During dinner, advocates met scientist and rising star Keven Stonewall, who at the age of 23 has already conducted impactful research in colorectal cancer. Stonewall talked about how adamant he is in finding a cure for cancer.
Stonewall added he was inspired by every person in the room, and that they are the reason why he is dedicating his life to research and advocacy.
To wrap up the day, GAC and Fight CRC staff members treated attendees to a fun lip-sync battle, ending a busy, emotional, and impactful first day of Call-on Congress on a light and humorous note.