Meet Angel Gonzales, our new Grassroots Advocacy Manager, and see why and how she developed a passion for grassroots advocacy and fighting for those with colorectal cancer.
Where It Started
It’s never too early and it’s never too late to catch the advocacy bug. My professional and personal passions collided in 2011 when I was invited to attend the Missouri Association for Social Welfare lobby day in Jefferson City, Mo. At the time, I was joined by hundreds of social workers, social work students and teachers from across the state to talk to our state representatives about Medicaid expansion for Missouri.
That day, sitting across from my state legislator, I realized my passion for advocacy. After graduating with my degree in social work, I pursued a Master’s degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in public policy. I learned the methods and approaches in public policy, but hoped to do more than theoretical exercises.
I took a position at the Missouri Veterans Home and worked as an advocate for our veterans and their family members. I was able to work with an older population, a population that is often forgotten. I saw firsthand how difficult and complex our health care system can be for those going through chronic care issues.
My role was to be their voice when they were not heard. I educated others on who they were, encouraged them and fought alongside them.
Where My CRC Passion Comes From
Colorectal cancer hadn’t impacted my life until Alice, a close friend, mentor and fellow co-worker, was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in October 2016. At that moment, I felt the hardships she was facing, but also the strength and perseverance that would get her through it.
Once diagnosed, she needed surgery and time to heal. While she was out, others doubted her. They doubted she could pull through. They believed she would get to the point where she would no longer be able to work. I stood by her, encouraging her, letting her know I was there if she needed someone. I would send her a message almost daily to encourage her. Months later, she proved everyone wrong and returned to the Veterans Home. Her strength showed me what it’s like to never give up.
What You Can Do
My road to becoming a Grassroots Advocacy Manager has been a windy one, but it’s a reflection of both my personal and professional passions. Working alongside survivors like my friend Alice is my chance to encourage fighters and provide an opportunity to catch the advocacy bug!
Healthcare is not getting easier and it will be a long road ahead. I am passionate about the work and feel that now is a vital time for our advocacy. We can’t drop the ball when key legislation may impact our insurance coverage, due to pre-existing conditions, or when legislators could cut funding for colon cancer research. We have to share our stories to ensure lawmakers how we, patients, survivors and caregivers feel and what we care about!
I’m looking forward to my role where I will educate, raise awareness, and provide tools for you to take action. Together change can come.
“One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” – John F. Kennedy
I am ready to make a difference. I am honored to fight alongside you.