I never thought when I attended my first Call-on Congress in 2017 as an advocate that I would one day be planning it. Even now, as I prepare to leave Fight CRC after three years, I can’t help but reflect on boarding a flight from New Orleans to Washington, DC.

I had already been working on cancer state policy for almost two years in Louisiana. While I didn’t have a direct connection to colorectal cancer, I had family members and friends who had survived and passed on due to other cancers. The advocates at my first Call-on Congress changed that with the community there that welcomed me in starting with my mentor, Walter Hickman.

Luckily, I got the chance in October 2018 to join the staff at Fight Colorectal Cancer (Fight CRC) and focus solely on colorectal cancer as the Grassroots Advocacy Manager. It was a great honor to work on CRC advocacy, amplifying the voices of the community and helping to make positive federal policy change happen.

Aubree

My first Call-on Congress as the Grassroots Advocacy Manager only solidified my love for the community and work in 2019. I got to work directly with Walter as one of the Grassroots Action Committee (GAC) members, as well as many others who would have a significant impact on my time at Fight CRC. Knowing that the fight never stopped from them, I was willing to put in the long hours and, as I got to know those that eventually lost their fight, the tears too. I know I will carry on the work of those who have passed and those who continue to fight into my new position at the American Cancer Society.

Call-on Congress wasn’t the only program I managed though. Working on the Catalyst State-by-State Advocacy Program was equally rewarding. We grew the program from an idea to real policy change in three states in less than three years. More states are on their way to updating their colorectal statutes as we speak because of the groundwork we laid. I know that the Advocacy Team and Molly McDonnell, Director of Advocacy, will continue and expand upon the great state and federal policy efforts we started in the coming years. 

Lastly, one of the joys I always had during the darker winter months was engaging with new advocates looking to get their governor to declare March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in their state. Seeing the smiling faces and #StrongArmSelfies roll into my inbox was a treat, especially as many people new to advocacy but passionate about colorectal cancer tried out the program. Every time someone speaks up with their story and engages with advocacy and policy, I truly think that the world changes a little.

Fight CRC and the colorectal cancer community has changed who I am as a public health professional and person. I’m grateful to all the advocates and staff who have welcomed me over the last three years, told me their own stories, and took up a little space in my heart. I won’t be far though; I’ll be working at the American Cancer Society, keeping you all in that same heart space every day. Thank you!

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