Day one of Call-On Congress has ended, but the work of Fight Colorectal Cancer advocates has just begun.
150 advocates from all over the country are meeting in Washington, D.C. to train for their meetings with offices of elected officials. Advocates will be pushing Fight CRC’s legislative goals to increase funding for colorectal cancer research, to protect cancer patients’ rights under the Affordable Care Act in this new administration, and to remove barriers in CRC screening.
Introduction to Advocacy
Advocates started the morning with an introduction to what Call-on Congress is all about: Sharing their stories to affect policy making. Fight CRC staff and the Grassroots Action Committee (GAC) spoke to advocates about what to expect over the next two days, how to continue their advocacy at home, and how to effectively share their story.
Dr. LaTese L. Briggs spoke about her report for Faster Cures, “Colorectal Cancer: A Giving Smarter Guide,” for which she was the lead author. Dr. Briggs explained it is vital for research efforts to focus on patients’ need for simple, direct information.
She also spoke about how patients can affect research via advocacy; by making the choice to get informed and meaningfully engaged in research, they can empower themselves and the entire CRC community.
Advocacy and Research Panels
Continuing with Dr. Briggs’ call for advocacy in cancer research, the first day of training included several panel sessions focused on why scientists and researchers need colorectal cancer patients to use their voice in the fight for a cure.
Dustin Deming, MD, University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center
Bao Lam, MD, Senior Clinical Director, Merck
Angela Nicholas, MD and caregiver
Dennis Ahren, MD, University of Colorado Hereditary Cancer Clinic
Al Benson, MD, Northwestern University
Jo Beth Petty, Stage IIIc Survivor and Kristy Petty, Caregiver
Main points discussed during the panels included:
Vocal patients are important because thanks to them, there has been improvement in colorectal cancer research
Discussion of family history is a vital tool for CRC prevention
Advocacy for the increase of research funding can directly benefit clinical trials and their expansion
Survivorship talk with oncologists and primary care providers is essential for patients and their mental/physical health
Removal of screening barriers should be a priority between young adults and minorities
Immunotherapy might be the future of CRC treatment, which makes advocacy for funding increase more important than ever
Caregiver burnout is real and needs to be addressed
Sharing Your Story
To end the first day of training, advocates shared their powerful stories and why they’re attending Call-on Congress. Survivors, caregivers, and loved ones spoke openly about how colorectal cancer has affected their lives. Although many stories included loss, anger, and fear, advocates bonded over one simple word: Hope.
“I’m here to tell you that your world doesn’t end,” said survivor Jennifer Bracey.
Stay tuned for more Call-On Congress updates and don’t forget to to watch our live stream on Facebook!