Attend ConC Like Your Life Depends On It!

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Advocacy Blog
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Theresa Maschke joined the Fight CRC team in May 2021 as a Content Writer, binding her love of writing and editing with her experience as her husband’s (a stage III survivor) caregiver. Theresa lives in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with her husband, Joe; three kids, Elizabeth, Joey, and Caroline; and newest addition, her puppy named Buddy!

My husband, Joe, was diagnosed with stage IIIb early-age onset colorectal cancer when he was 47. Joe is now 51, and he has been cancer free (big exhale!) since July 1, 2019, which is a tremendous relief. However, thoughts of cancer never end. We still have incredible stress whenever he undergoes scans ("scanxiety"), blood work, and check-ins with his doctors. Colorectal cancer is never a “thing of the past.” It is always lurking in your mind and in the minds of your family members.

I don’t think most people think about colorectal cancer until you or someone you love is diagnosed with it. Then it turns your world upside down. Even after you or your loved one is told they are cancer free, the trauma, and effects of treatment and surgery linger for a lifetime. 

There are a growing number of people like my husband being diagnosed at a young age. By 2030, colorectal cancer is projected to become the leading cause of cancer deaths for those ages 20-49. Yet, it’s the cancer no one wants to talk about. 

After Joe was diagnosed, my son, then age 13, confided in a friend that Joe had rectal cancer. The then-friend later said in a loud voice in a crowded hallway at school, “Your dad has butt cancer?!” My son was mortified and never spoke to anyone his age about Joe’s cancer again.

Well, let me tell you: I’m going to talk about it. 

When I first started working for Fight Colorectal Cancer, I didn’t consider myself an advocate. I’m not a political person, so I didn’t think I would know how to talk with members of Congress. But as we prepare for our 16th Call-on Congress (ConC) March 16-17, 2022, I’ve realized that my voice and my story are critical in the fight for more funding, more research, and more treatment options.

Call-on Congress is an opportunity for advocates from across the country to share your stories and educate members of Congress on issues impacting you and the colorectal cancer community.

This year Call-on Congress will be a hybrid event - meaning we will have opportunities to participate both in-person and virtually. If you join us in person, you’ll be able to attend events around United in Blue, the first-ever flag installation on the National Mall to spotlight colorectal cancer as a national priority and raise awareness that we need to fight for more

And whether you join us in person or from home, you’ll be able to attend meetings with your members of Congress virtually. 

Now, you may be thinking, “Why should I attend Call-on Congress this year? Is it still worth it if we can’t meet with members of Congress in person?“

The answer is “Yes!” Colorectal cancer is vastly underfunded by the federal government, and it is not prioritized by federal agencies as many other cancers are. This needs to change. We are seeing an increase in colorectal cancer in young people, but we aren’t seeing the game-changing advances in research that could help patients of all ages. 

If patients, caregivers, and everyone impacted by colorectal cancer don’t fight for more and tell Congress how colorectal cancer has changed our lives, no one else is going to do it for us.

Meeting with members of Congress virtually means it is even easier to share your story. You can do it from home, from work, even from the chemo chair! 

The Windup

The windup is this: We. Need. More. We need more urgency, more equity, more funding. Come, fight with me for more. I can’t do it alone. And thanks to Fight CRC, “No one fights alone!”

I am excited to head to Washington, D.C., for Call-on Congress 2022. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Register now. We need you, and I can’t wait to see you on March 16-17, 2022.

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