Rough weather? No problem! Despite the freezing temperatures and snow, advocates were as passionate as ever during the second day of Call-On Congress.
It was an emotionally-charged day in which advocates not only tackled difficult (yet necessary) topics in the fight against colorectal cancer, but they also learned everything they needed to know about their upcoming congressional meetings on the Hill.
Panels and Discussion Groups
Day two started with a look into the financial burden for CRC patients (often called financial toxicity), which resonated with many advocates. Panels for the Cancer Moonshot Initiative and the 80% by 2018 program taught advocates why it’s important to push for increase in research funding and removing barriers to screening.
The “Early-Onset CRC” panel approached the troubling increase of diagnosed young adults. The issue of screening guidelines for young people was one of the most talked-about topics during this panel. Attendee voices were heard and the pains and frustrations from the rise of CRC in the under 50 were shared. Experts explained the importance of getting a diagnosis when symptoms present, the data needed by those who make guidelines, how modeling studies work and the need to change the narrative from “get screened” to know your family history and talk about screening way before age 50. Fight CRC shared its position on Under 50 and what the organization is doing to face the disease regarding policy and research. Participation in advocacy groups was encouraged… the issue is bigger than one organization and will take many people working together to create change.
A breakout session to encourage discussion split the advocates into small groups to share their stories in a more intimate setting. Survivorship issues, life for the newly diagnosed, and caregiving were the main topics discussed.
- Sara Goldberger, LCSW-R, Senior Director, Programs, Cancer Support Community
Nancy Roach, Fight CRC Founder and Board Chair
Emily Butler Bell, MPH, Associate Director National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable (NCCRT)
- Dr. Dennis Ahnen, Professor Emeritus, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Director of Genetics Clinic, Gastroenterology of the Rockies
Amanda Houston, Stage II Survivor, Grassroots Action Committee (GAC) Member
While the adults were getting ready for their meetings, the Junior Advocates were getting ready too. Not only did they get creative for the names of poop, they practiced their speeches and learned how to meet with a member of Congress.
Ready for the Hill!
Informative panels prepared our advocates for a successful meeting with their representatives. The policy panels provided in-depth knowledge about the 2017 legislative goals of Fight CRC and their impact, such as:
Removing barriers to colorectal cancer screening
Investing in colorectal cancer research
Protecting the best interests of patients
Advocates learned about how to approach the aforementioned issues when talking to their representatives, how to read their meeting schedules, and how to navigate Capitol Hill. They were also offered advice by veteran advocates on what to expect during their meetings.
Kevin Schultze, VP, Congressional Relations, Soapbox Consulting
Michell Baker, Fight CRC Partnerships Manager, Caregiver
Marsha Baker, GAC Member, Caregiver
LaRisha Baker, Caregiver
Sparks of Strength
To close the last day of training, advocates gathered to remember those who have passed away and everyone who has been affected by CRC one way or another. Every advocate lit a “spark” while saying out loud who they’re fighting for; a reminder of their mission and advocacy journey.
In a touching and poignant performance, advocate and stage IV survivor Erica Hoffman sang to honor everyone involved in the fight against CRC.
Hill Day Tomorrow
In the morning advocates will take all they’ve learned and put it into practice. The passion is sure to be heard through the halls of Capitol Hill. Advocates at home can join in too. Send an email to members of Congress to support the 150 people in DC on Wednesday during Virtual Lobby Day.